Saturday, November 7, 2020

A day in Madison - Anthology cards and signed copies from Kevin Henkes, Steven Wright, and Quan Barry

One of the things about a bookstore in the time of COVID is that with events virtual, it's much rarer to get signed copies. We have found that there are at least three tiers of desirability in terms of signatures, and several possible sub-tiers.

1. An actual signed book where the authors signs in the full title, or less to our taste, the half title. 

2. A signed tip-in. This is when authors sign sheets of paper that are cut and bound into the book. That's the problem with a tip-in - if you make it look like a half-title, most people won't know the difference. That said, most of the signed tip-ins are on blank sheets of paper, making them look like endpapers. Folks who do events who aren't writers love signing endpapers, because there's more room. And because publishers rarely used colored endpapers, let alone ones with something like a map on them, there's not really any reason not to sign there.

2a. That said, we've seen a few examples of publishers doing some nice tip-ins. Nobody beats the recent release of Glennon Doyle's Untamed with the special cheetah tip-in. What a great idea - we'd love to see more of this. Doyle's fans love this edition. I'd link but I suspect we're out. Check with Boswell.

3. Bookplates. At first things were going pretty well with bookplates, particularly during lockdown. But as time has gone on, there's less interest. A good bookplate can still make a difference, but we're noticing that by fall, publishers were less interested in chasing them for us. 

We do like the special bookplates that reference the book in background image, but nay to the ones with an actual jacket of the book. Too literal! We've also suspected instances of bookplates that are photocopied. We saw this a few years ago with a home repair duo at a theater event, but we never expected to see it with novelists. We also see a lot of generic bookplates where we can't quite figure out what the signature is. 

So that said, I realized that three books I was pushing for fall had authors in Madison, just a little too far away for us to ask them to visit Boswell to sign. So I organized a signing tour. I visited Steven Wright, author of The Coyotes of Carthage, Quan Barry, whose novel is We Ride Upon Sticks, and Kevin Henkes with fall releases Sun Flower Lion and Lilly & Friends: A Picture Book Treasury, a bound collection of the Lilly early readers. Everybody was masked. And for good measure, our friends at Books & Company also got their copies of Sun Flower Lion and Lilly & Friends signed too - these two links go to the Books & Company website.

While I was in Madison, I stopped by Anthology, the card store on State Street that produces custom Madison and Wisconsin-centered designs. If you're wondering whether we can sell Madison-themed product in the store, my experience is that we can't unless its Wisconsin athletics themed. But my guess is that you can't make that card because the lawyers are ready to pounce upon that. 

Because it's possible not every copy in the store is signed (we left a box of Henkes behind in error), please make sure you request a signed copy in the special instructions or when you order by phone. If you're browsing in the store, you can check for yourself. I'd also be remiss if I didn't remind you about our virtual event with Kevin Henkes for Sun Flower Lion on December 4 at 3 pm with Jane Hamilton. Register here. InkLink will also have signed copies - it's an Ink/Well event!

One last thing. Quan Barry signed books in her apartment lobby. During the signing, several folks asked what we were doing. I wound up selling a copy to one of the inquiring folks. I should note that both We Ride Upon Sticks, The Coyotes of Carthage, and Sun Flower Lion are three of my picks for the holidays. I wouldn't drive for hours for just any book.

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