The holiday season is upon us. We had a very Black Friday. It's my guess that the flow is not unusual for independent bookstores and perhaps indie retail in general. We're not busy in the morning, because of all the door buster style deals elsewhere and not that busy in the evening, because there's no sense of urgency and the store vibe is more of a Saturday than a Friday. We're busier on Friday because people come after work, but less people work on Saturday. Does that make sense? So if you're paying attention, the busiest hours are 1 to 5 pm.
The vibe is different today, perhaps because of Small Business Saturday and perhaps because while the sales continue from Friday (and often Thursday), there aren't as many "look at me" deals. And Sunday? A surprising number of sales are Friday-Saturday only, and the industry assumes there's mostly goodbyes and travel.
We don't have extra sales on the weekend, but we do have more titles on sale this time of year. Jason and Amie close to double the amount of titles on Boswell's Best, our 20% off program. And of course for these titles, you are still allowed to use your $5 Boswell Benefits coupons. Here are a few of our kids buyer Amie's picks for the season.
First up is Atlas of Animal Adventures: A Collection of Nature's Most Unmissable Events, Epic Migrations and Extraordinary Behaviors ($30.00), written by Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins, and illustrated by Lucy Letherland, the folks who did the popular Atlas of Adventures.. Emily Hawkins has written Oceanology and other titles in the Ology series.These Wide Eyed titles are very cool. Publishers Weekly writess: "The text, including small sidebars and caption-style statements, emphasizes scientific details and trivia for readers to file away ("The narwhal can dive almost 6,000 feet deep to feed on halibut"), but Letherland isn't afraid to have fun in her artwork, showing a puffin fishing with a rod and reel, an orangutan wielding a magnifying glass, and a bowerbird tidying up the forest floor with a rake."
One thing that's amusing is that while the book jacket itself was Americanized (behaviour became behaviour), the bibliographic and marketing copy was not, the difference being most noticeable on our website, and by the way, we don't write the annotations for the hundreds of thousands of books you can search for. It's always a little odd when an author writes to us and asks us to correct the bibliographic information. I usually tell them they can write to the 350 or so stores that use our system or have their publisher contact the supplier that is feeding us the information, but only one option is really going to fix the problem.
Up next is Jungle ($25.95), the new Photicular book created by Dan Kainen, with this volume written by Kathy Woolard. The publisher notes: "Using unique Photicular technology, Jungle parts the mysterious veil of this sun-dappled land and reveals—in fluid 3-D motion—the living exuberance within. Watch a tarantula scuttle across the forest floor. A dancing whipsnake flick its tongue. A Bengal tiger on the prowl, and a brilliant green and red macaw soar above the canopy."
Kathy Woolard writes the "How Come?" column for Newsday. I'm not sure who did the photography (Kainen I guess, though details might be on the copyright page) and I'm particularly amused by the marketing materials, which included photos from the book, but not Photicular photos. These are fun and the technology doesn't seem to get old (I still play with each one as it is published). We've had huge successes (and not so huge successes) with these in the past. You know what they say - kids like animals.
The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day ($22.99), is a project of Jessica Courtney-Tickle. Of the project, the publishers write: "Discover what it would be like to travel through the four seasons in one day, following a little girl called Isabelle and her dog, Pickle, as they take on the adventure of a lifetime. As a sign of the changing seasons, Isabelle carries a little apple tree with her, and we see it bud, blossom and lose its leaves. Each spread features a musical note to press and a 10 second sound clip from the original score of Vivaldi's Four Seasons."
There's a lot to like in the book, from the package to the illustrations (I could cards from this illustrator doing very well - that always seems to be my perspective nowadays) to the introduction to classical music. A friend in college had The Four Seasons in regular rotation in college. Apparently it is just the thing to listen to while reading The Lord of the Rings series over and over.
ThinkTouchLearn ABC ($24.99) is the title from this list featured in our handout gift guide. It's created by Xavier Deneux, a Paris-based designer who has created over 100 books. We have had huge success with French packages in the past, most notably Before After, which I had a fun time championing. Every designer eventually has to do an ABC book when they are designing for early childhood, right?
Here's the publisher's explanation: "Raised die-cut pieces nestled in mirroring indented cut-outs engage readers on both visual and tactile levels." You really have to see this to get it, much like the Photicular books. So the vines make the J in jungle, for example and they are indented. There's an indented E in the elephant. Kids this age like to do a lot of touching and indentations and raised images are just the thing for them.
From France, we go to Poland, where Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts grads Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski have created Under Water, Under Earth ($35.00), from the creators of Maps. Hundreds of fascinating await! As School Library Journal writes: "labels, cross sections, cutaways, and sequenced processes." The title in Polish is "Pod ziemina, pod wodna," but no, we don't have the Polish edition.
Under Water, Under Earth is two books in one. The first is everything you wanted to know about the deep sea and when you flip it over, it's everything you wanted to know about below ground.
I love the Maps book, and was pleased to see that the Mizielisnskis were nominated for the BolognaRagazzi Award. But what is that? It's given out at the Bologna Children's Book Fair and the first thing I learned is that there is not space between Bologna and Ragazzi, contrary to the publisher's and wholesaler's copy. It "acknowledges and celebrates publishing excellence in terms of graphic layout, format innovation and general ability to capture a young reader's attention." Under Water, Under Earth was not a 2016 winner, but I assume the book won in a previous year and took some time to come Stateside.
So here's what you need to know. All five books are discounted on Boswell's Best through December 31. All five are discounted on our website, so you can actually order the titles for pickup in store or delivery and you will get the discount if you pay by credit card. We do have a delivery charge, but if you bought all five, you would go above our threshold for us paying the freight for you (what we call in the business "free freight" but don't forget, somebody's paying for it.)
Secondly, I have selected these titles because in each case, online descriptions and images (like mine) do not do justice to the books. You have to come in and see them to really appreciate them.
But most of all, remember that all these books are probably printed overseas and may have limiited distribution, meaning we will surely run out of stock of at least one of them, if not all, before Christmas. So for books like this, don't wait till the lat minute. I warned you.
Enjoy Small Business Saturday and the rest of your holiday shopping.
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