A Rep Reading

Books, Authors, Publishers, Booksellers, Reps and the Industry

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Indie’s First Storytime Day is May 17


February 18, 2014

People, oh my people! (And by “my people,” I mean all of you authors and illustrators who believe in the power of stories, and in the beauty of communities formed by and around those stories).

Let me tell you a story. Last year, Sherman Alexie came up with Indies First, the super-excellent idea of authors supporting independent bookstores by going into their favorite store and being booksellers for a day. That is: spend a day on the floor selling books, answering questions (“Your grandmother gave it to you when you were five and it had a red cover with white words on it and you think that maybe it was about an octopus who ran away from home but you’re not sure, it might have been about a dog? Sure, I can help you find that book.”)* unpacking boxes, answering phones and generally being helpful bookstore bunnies. Sherman Alexie asked; and on Small Business Saturday in November 2013, over 1,000 authors answered by showing up at their local independent bookstores. Rumor has it that everybody involved had a fabulous time.

So, we are (with the express permission of Sherman Alexie, mind you) stealing this idea and running with it. In honor of Children’s Book Week I would like to ask all authors and illustrators to volunteer at your favorite independent bookstore on May 17th. Come in and read a story (a story that you didn’t write) out loud. You can read from that one where the pigeon (“Come on, I’ll give you five bucks”) wants to drive the bus. You can read the first (very funny) chapter of The Watsons Go to Birmingham out loud. Or you could read about the miracle of garbage trucks in I Stink! Who knows, you might even feel compelled to read aloud from Stinky Cheese Man. Some people do. The point is to show up and to read aloud, to celebrate stories and to celebrate the indies who work so hard to put our stories in the hands of readers.

Sign yourself up, or call your local independent and ask them if you can come to their store on May 17th and tell them a story. Come on, I’ll give you five bucks. I’ll be your best friend.



PS. Learn more about Indies First here.

*The book in question: Rimson, the Runaway Octopus, a Tale of Tentacles and Glory

UPDATE: Ambassador Kate DiCamillo’s Call to Action on Shelf Awareness, 4/21/14.


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Klassen’s ‘Hat’ Books Hit One-Million Mark

Jon Klassen and Candlewick have reason to celebrate. Just two and a half years after the author-illustrator made his solo children’s book debut in 2011 with I Want My Hat Back, that picture book and its companion, 2012’s This Is Not My Hat, have reached a combined worldwide in-print tally of one million copies. Edited by Candlewick editorial director and associate publisher Liz Bicknell and designed by art director Ann Stott, the two books have been translated into a combined total of 22 languages, including Japanese, Hebrew, Catalan, Finnish, Greek, and Tetum (spoken on the island of Timor).

In addition to registering brisk sales – I Want My Hat Back spent 48 weeks and This Is Not My Hat 43 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list – the books garnered an impressive roster of accolades. The first title was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, and a PW Best Children’s Book of the Year, and won an E.B. White Read-Aloud Award in the picture book category. This Is Not My Hat, which received six starred reviews, won the 2013 Caldecott Medal for Klassen. It was also designated a New York Times Notable Children’s Book, and made it onto several Best of the Year lists, including PW’s.

“We are thrilled that sales of these books continue at such a strong pace, and are gratified to celebrate this one million-copy landmark with him,” said John Mendelson, Candlewick’s senior v-p and sales director, in a statement. “The extraordinary support the books have received from booksellers and readers is a testament to Jon Klassen’s immeasurable talent, as he continues to win new fans every day.”

Klassen is quick to share the credit for his books’ success – and his gratitude. “A huge heartfelt, humbled, amazed, deeply-grateful, crazily-lucky, kind-of-suspicious-it’s-all-a-trick, but-hoping-never-to-find-out thank you to everybody who helped with the making of, the editing of, the distribution of, the promotion of, the displaying of, the talking-about of, the recommending of, the selling of, the buying of, and the sitting-down-and-reading of these books,” he told PW. “I wish we could all go bowling or something together.”
By Sally Lodge | Apr 10, 2014 | Publishers Weekly

Previous Klassen posts on A Rep Reading:

Awards Week! January 30. 2013
Hold on to Your Hat This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen September 14, 2012
I Want My Hat Back October 28, 2011

Author photo credit: Autumn Le’Brannon

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It’s Chocolate Day!

Wow! I scored today with two wonderful gifts from two of my publishers. First a fantastic box of chocolates from V Chocolates in Salt Lake City. They have the BEST caramels. THE BEST. Gibbs Smith sent this today and I couldn’t be happier. They have me hooked on these chocolates.

Candlewick sent these fun personalized M&Ms!

It’s chocolate day at my house! Thank you, Gibbs Smith and Candlewick!


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Week of Flowers!

One of the extraordinary byproducts of being named PW Rep of the Year is having a house filled with flowers. My husband and I celebrated our 21st anniversary on March 27th, and he kicked off the flower parade with a fantastic bouquet. Little did I know then, that was only the beginning.

Anniversary flowers (three views):

Abrams sent a truly beautiful congratulatory arrangement (two views):

Sourcebooks tulips (three views):

My colleagues at Southern Territory Associates sent these magnificent roses:

It’s been a glorious celebratory week! Thank you to everyone who has sent me the kindest notes of congratulations. I love you all.


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Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year

I’m completely thrilled to find out today that I’ve been selected as this year’s Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year. So many thoughts have been racing through my brain today about booksellers, sales reps and publishers through the many years I’ve been in publishing.

No one accomplishes anything in a vacuum, and I have had my share of mentors, supporters, advocates and colleagues that have accompanied me during my career. I will gather my thoughts in anticipation of Book Expo America. Until then, I am humbled to be honored by the industry. Congratulations to Green Apple Books as Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year.

Green Apple Named PW Bookstore of the Year

Green Apple Books in San Francisco is this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year. That it was nominated by Bay Area colleague Sheryl Cotleur, frontlist buyer at Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, Calif., should come as no surprise to those familiar with the 47-year-old labyrinthine bookstore, which has earned a name for itself for community involvement: for founding the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association, participating on the boards of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Clement Street Merchants Association, and advising Litquake and the San Francisco Library’s One City One Book program. In addition, Green Apple is the driving force behind this year’s 93-store strong inaugural California Bookstore Day, which is loosely based on Record Store Day and could serve as a prototype for a national bookstore celebration.

Over the years Green Apple, which carries both new and used books, has grown from 750 sq. ft. to more than ten times that size. When founder Peter Savoy put the store up for sale, three long-time employees—Kevin Hunsanger, Kevin Ryan, and Pete Mulvihill—began a gradual buyout. The three have created fun and quirky promotions like a midnight release party for IQ84 with free tacos and a can of Sapporo, and it has experimented with a set of YouTube videos/commercials, including one on hiring a new bookseller. (Hint: it’s not just about reading.) It also has fostered some unusual partnerships by placing bookcases of used books in six indie cafes around the Bay Area, Cafe Green Apple.

Green Apple’s whimsical approach to the book business has paid off with strong customer support. It has over 1,000 reviews on Yelp, most with four or five stars. Jaime L. asks, “Have you had a bite of Green Apple Books? No? Well, take one. Tastes like a local book store with some unparalleled uniqueness and variety. Seriously. As good as it gets. Green Apple books is yet another San Francisco landmark that deserves exceptional recognition.” While JL complains with tongue firmly in cheek, “It’s really not fair to lure innocent passers-by into a seemingly innocuous establishment to peruse the wares and then refuse to relinquish said passers-by for several hours.”

For 2014, Teresa Rolfe Kravtin of Southern Territory Associates has taken the PW Rep of the Year Award. In her nomination, children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba praised Kravtin for going above and beyond. “She really proved her chops on The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia. She actually took it upon herself to help the author [Susan Rosson Spain] and I (illustrator) set up book signings all over our fair state two years in a row. I’ve never heard of a rep doing that. I wish Teresa could rep me for all of my books.”

This is not the first time that Kravtin has been singled our as a sales representative. When she was a Southeastern sales rep for Penguin USA, she was named a Regional Rep of the Year for Penguin and a Sales Representative of the Year for the Southeast Booksellers Association. Kravtin speaks her mind on her blog, A Rep Reading. She covers American Wholesale Book Company and Books-A-Million for the group; her territory includes Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and Chattanooga.

Look for in-depth interviews with the 2014 award-winners in the April 28 pre-BEA issue of Publishers Weekly magazine. — Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly, March 28, 2014

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Firefly July

It’s World Poetry Day! Celebrate with Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, Selected by Paul B. Janeczko, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Never more than six or seven lines long—and some are just a few words—each poem in Janeczko’s (A Foot in the Mouth) spirited anthology celebrates an aspect of the seasons. Evocative and accessible, they make excellent prompts for classroom poetry exercises. “What is it the wind has lost,” ask poets Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, “that she keeps looking for/ under each leaf?” Sweet’s (Little Red Writing) artwork is marvelously varied. In some spreads, the animals and people are drafted in thoughtful detail, while in others her line is loopy and spontaneous. Dragonflies and crickets blink with flirtatious cartoon-character eyes in one scene, while fireflies and their haunting light are painted with meditative calm in another. Beach towels are striped in hot colors; fog in a city is rice paper glued over a collage of tall buildings. William Carlos Williams’s red wheelbarrow and Carl Sandburg’s little cat feet appear along with lesser-known works. Even Langston Hughes’s poem about a crowded subway sounds a note of hope: “Mingled/ breath and smell/ so close/ mingled/ black and white/ so near/ no room for fear.” Ages 6–9. — Publishers Weekly (starred)

" For young children, … each entry offers a happy encounter with words put beautifully together. Caldecott Honor artist Sweet’s pictures are, in a word, gorgeous. Executed in watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media, they capture and expand the spirit and sensibility of the verses they illustrate to wonderful effect. The harmonious cooperation of words and images provides a memorable reading experience for each season and for the whole year ‘round." — Michael Cart, Booklist (starred review)

“…this collection of 36 impeccably chosen short poems demonstrates that significant emotional power can reside in just a few lines. Any collection will be brighter with the inclusion of this treasure.” – Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA, School Library Journal (starred review)

My favorite:

"Very short people attracted by Sweet’s child-friendly illustrations (and by the large picture book format) are likely to linger to enjoy the thirty-six excellent poems (grouped by season) showcased on the book’s ample spreads, especially when shared with a discerning older reader. … Sweet’s expansive mixed-media illustrations—loosely rendered, collage-like assemblages in seasonal palettes—are just detailed enough to clarify meaning without intruding on young imaginations." – The Horn Book (starred review)

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
Paul B. Janeczko, Melissa Sweet
Candlewick Press

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For every hit, there has to be a sequel. The Great Tumblr Book Search is back and the search for the next big humor book is on!

Last year, Chronicle Books partnered with Tumblr on the first-annual Great Tumblr Book Search. The winning Tumblr was Sh*t Rough Drafts by Paul Laudiero. Chronicle offered Laudiero a publishing contract and now Sh*t Rough Drafts the book is coming to a bookstore near you on April 15th. And YOU could be next!

How to Enter:

Use Tumblr to explain your humor book idea. Then our editors will judge the entries and choose a grand-prize winner whose idea will be considered for publication. You may use an existing Tumblr or create a new Tumblr to illustrate your book idea. Just make us laugh!

To enter, tag a post “TumblrBookSearch” and include:

1)      The title of your humor book

2)      A written synopsis of  your idea (200 words or less)

3)      Examples of the book’s concept (can be photos, animated gifs, artwork, video, text, or any media supported by Tumblr)

Then, hop over here to give us your basic contact information and the link to your post.

Hurry, the contest ends 3/31/2014. Read the official rules and submit your Tumblr entry now! Winners will be announced by April 30th.

1 Grand Prize:

  • Book idea considered for publication
  • $300 of Chronicle books
  •  Feedback session with a Chronicle Books editor

3 Runners-Up:

  • $100 of Chronicle books
  • Written critique from Chronicle Books editors

Questions? Email contests@chroniclebooks.com


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Strengthen the Independents

Encouraging signs are emerging in the independent bookstore marketplace. Some stores had record selling days during 2013 holiday shopping. Author Sherman Alexie initiated a program, Indies First, that by all accounts was wildly successful connecting authors with their local bookstores as “booksellers for a day”. Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association are sponsoring Find Waldo Local for the third year this coming July, a program that connects independent bookstores with other local independent businesses in communities across the country. American Express has Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday in which customers are rewarded for shopping locally. There are buy local campaigns in many cities. The word is getting through to consumers that they have a choice in the ways they can spend their money, and that by supporting local businesses they are strengthening their communities.

Within the industry, what are ways that we further extend the connections that make independent bookselling strong? Author and University Press of Mississippi Assistant Director, Steve Yates, and one of my favorite booksellers, Laura Weeks of Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Mississippi, share insights and welcome discussion about building the connections within the publishing industry that will keep the market viable for authors, booksellers, and readers.

The rapid changes in the bookselling industry present an opportunity industry insiders to gain better insight into how our actions affect one another. When a bookseller tells the territory sales representative, ”I’ll order your publisher’s books through my distributor.”, does that differ from a customer telling a bookseller, “I’ll order the books I discovered in your bookstore on Amazon?” How about writers, who in an attempt to promote their work on their websites, link to Amazon as a “where to buy” source with nary a mention of other options, like Indiebound.org or “You can also find my books at your neighborhood bookstore!” My posit is that these actions do not reflect malice, just a lack of awareness of impact on friends in the industry. How can publishers, writers, and booksellers best work together to ensure a thriving brick-and-mortar bookselling industry?

Please join in the discussion in the comments section below.

Steve Yates is the author of the Juniper-Prize winning collection Some Kinds of Love: Stories (University of Massachusetts Press) and Morkan’s Quarry: A Novel (Moon City Press). His novella “Sandy & Wayne” won the inaugral Knickerbocker Prize and was published in Big Fiction. In the daylight, as in fifty hours each week, he is assistant director / marketing director at University Press of Mississippi, where he manages the marketing department and the international and domestic sales forces and makes sales calls to all Mississippi bookstores. Fiction and History is his blog.

Laura Weeks owns Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She also writes as L.A. Weeks. Her recent work can be found in American Tanka, and the forthcoming issue of Alabama Literary Review.

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Silly Moms and their Silly Opinions are Silly



U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

Source: WaPo

There’s this funny thing that happens when you become a mom. Every kid is suddenly your kid. You wince when a baby cries, when another kid falls on the playground. Your heart breaks when you read the newspaper, every day. You can’t read certain books, watch certain movies or shows. And you start having a lot of pesky opinions about things—like, say, education policy. And not just for your own kid.

And then someone stands up to defend policy and he wants the criticism against it to sound ridiculous, so he ascribes it to moms. Specially white suburban moms—and we know how THEY all are—who want their little Timmy to look brilliant. (Apparently moms who live in the city or are of color don’t have the same concerns.)

Yeah, we moms—I would posit that this includes moms regardless of place of residence or color— want our kids to be brilliant, though perhaps in not the sense of the word he means. At least we want our child to be given every chance to have the brilliance—emotional, creative, empathetic, intellectual, or whatever other form this brilliance takes— inside him nurtured. And we want it for other kids too. We have this weird idea that an educational system should value our kids as individuals rather than bits of data. And we have this funny opinion that standards and testing and everything else that privileges surface learning over critical thinking and creativity and empathy and the skill of and hunger for learning itself isn’t the best way to foster brilliance in our children. We are skeptical of guys like this ignoring the concerns of the educators who have devoted themselves to taking care of our kids, and deeply skeptical of policies that turn our kids into numbers, try to quantify achievement, and impose one size fits all systems on our schools crafted by the boneheads who think this sort of thing is a good idea in the first place.

Why exactly do we talk about moms this way? There’s soccer moms, mommy porn, mom jeans, and Mommy bloggers (the 21st Century equivalent of a damned mob of scribbling women.) And in this case the word “mom” is being used, essentially, as a cheap slur—a signifier for someone who we all agree is petty and silly, someone who can and should be ignored. 

To have the Secretary of Education reduce and deride the concerns of parents who happen to be female is appalling. To have him imply that only white moms are so invested in their children’s education is deeply problematic. To have him take the voices of all of the educators and parents and scholars  who have raised concerns about Common Core and silence them by using “moms” as a straw man, to have him take the word “mom” and use it as something to devalue and sneer at for political gain and to is disturbing at every level. 

I would say that a person who would use women in this way does not belong in the job. 


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