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text 2014-03-11 19:40
A Simple Guide to Bookstore Etiquette


(image via the awesome Blue Willow Books)


Shopping in a bookstore is a bit like shopping at a hardware store: if you’re there for something specific, you need to know a thing or two about the item you’re looking for before attempting to find it in the aisles. If you’re there to browse, the world is your oyster.


As a bookseller, I’ve often heard people ask for a book they saw several weeks ago, on that table near the café (you know the one!), that had a blue cover. But lots books go on display every week, on many tables, and some of those books were published two, five, ten years ago! Feeling helpless and apologetic, all I can do is point out general sections of the store where they might find blue book. So to correct future sadness, arm yourself with bookstore etiquette and prepare to fill your arms with all the books you could ever want!


Unknown Object

Before you leave your home . . . you must decide: 1) are you just planning to browse, or 2) are you going to look for something specific? If you’re planning to browse, you’re usually in the clear. Ask a bookseller for the genre you’d like to explore, and they’ll happily point you in the right direction—and even offer some of their favorite books for you to peruse! (This is one of the many reasons it's better to buy books from human beings). If you’re looking for something specific, write down everything you know about the book that’s searchable: author, title, ISBN (those fun numbers on the barcode that start 978-la-di-da), genre, publication date, publisher. It will help you and the bookseller narrow down that book.


You’ve entered the bookstore . . . and you’re overwhelmed with all the books and displays and sections! That’s okay. A bookseller is always nearby to help. If they’re working with another customer, wait patiently. The attention they’re giving that customer is just the sort of attention they’ll give you once they’ve finished: undivided, enthusiastic, and determined! (See? People power!)


You’ve found your book(s) . . . but you’re not sure if you really want it. Will you read it? Will you like it? Any bookworm will tell you that, if you’re wavering, and in order to make such a big decision to build a connection with a book, you need to read the first few pages (or chapters!) to know whether you’ll like it. Some say open it in the middle and start reading. Others say start at the beginning. Some employ the page 69 test. Me, I always read the first 50 pages when I’m unsure. If I’m still hooked, I buy the book.


You’ve found your book(s) . . . and you notice the price(s). The price the bookstore offers is typically the price the publisher wants for the book (unless, of course, you’re in a used bookstore). With the changing economy, booksellers know money can be tight and that books may be pricey. Never complain about the price to a bookseller, or that it’s cheaper on Amazon (we're human beings! We have feelings!) Denying a purchase in-store means the death of the bookstore and the loss of a job! Well, maybe not that day, but eventually. And who would want bookstores to disappear forever?


Not the bookworms! If the price still bothers you, ask about discount programs. Many bookstores offer discounts to customers! A bookseller will happily explain the program for you. And if you're really hard-up, try browsing a used bookstore—the books are worn, but loved!


Head on over to the cash registers . . . and purchase those lovely books!

Go home . . . and enjoy the written word! Feel free to come back to the bookstore and gush all about the book to a bookseller – they love hearing your thoughts.



(image via flickr)


But let’s say your visit doesn’t quite follow this pattern. What should you do?


You thought you knew what you came for, but forgot . . . it’s okay. You know you saw it in the New York Times, or it was on Good Morning America this morning, or that it had “Angels” in the title and you think the author’s name was “Brown.” That’s still enough for a bookseller to find what you’re looking for. If you know it’s going to be a movie this fall, or that the book belongs in History, or that it was published in paperback in January and it is a Young Adult retelling of HG Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, the bookseller can Google those key ideas and find it for you. Every little searchable thing helps – except the color of the cover or the location of the display.


You have something to return . . . so you know the bookseller behind the cash register is hoping against all hope you have a receipt dated within the return policy. You’ve read the fine print on the front or back of the receipt about dates and returns. Your book within the return policy and it’s in good condition. Gratefully accept whatever form of return the bookseller can offer – cash, credit return, or store credit – and find another book to take home!


But let’s say you are outside of the return policy, don’t have a receipt, or the book is damaged. No one wants to be grumpy, and nothing ever runs smoothly when the air is filled with negativity and tension. Calmly explain your scenario, and the bookseller will give you the best return policy option available.


You read some books in a comfy chair or in the café/coffee shop . . . and decide you don’t want them. You don’t remember where you found them, so you find a bookseller and ask for the books to be put away, because your grandmother always said, “Clean up after your mess!” This makes a bookseller happy and it gives an opportunity for a future customer to find the book. Piles of forgotten books throughout the store only cause anger and mayhem – two words that should never belong in such a haven.


You’re enjoying the atmosphere of the café/coffee shop . . . and you purchase a coffee, tea, scone, or cookie. That’s excellent! You would never walk into a restaurant carrying a McDonald’s bag, taking up table space and eating food from an outside menu, right?


If you’re still curious about bookstore etiquette, peek into the mind of booksellers by visiting Minions of Isidore or cracking open Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – funny, charming, and entirely too accurate.


Make a bookseller’s day with your charm, intelligence, politeness, eagerness, and etiquette!


Laura Crockett is a graduate student, bookseller, Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Everything good in her boils down to her Midwestern upbringing. Follow her Downton Abbey obsessions on Twitter (@LECrockett) and book interests on her blog http://scribblesandwanderlust.wordpress.com

Source: quirkbooks.com/post/simple-guide-bookstore-etiquette
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text 2014-01-23 20:28
What’s with all the Orphans in Kids' Books?

Have you ever taken a good, close look at Middle Grade fiction? And in that close look, have you noticed that most of the protagonists are orphans?


Yes, some may live with grandmothers or uncles, or the main story takes place in a school far from home – but even then, the parents are noticeably absent. Dead, disappeared, out of the picture, gone.


Why is that?


Unknown Object

In Dave Astor’s Huffington Post article, he says their rough beginnings are what “draw our sympathy, and when they overcome obstacles via their own efforts and/or help from others, it is especially inspiring.” I would have to add that, without adult supervision or example, the orphan character grows and develops independence much more quickly, forcing them into a new world they otherwise would have been sheltered from. The orphans are literally alone, just as we may feel, and seeing such a character overcome is powerful.


The Orphan is an age-old archetype as well, and is so popular it has endured for centuries without becoming a laughable cliché. The orphans not only refer to those literally orphaned by the death of parents, but also orphaned because they are exiled, lost, disinherited, raised in captivity, or raised by animals. Their situations are stark and vastly different, an excellent way to begin an awesome story.


This doesn't mean that guardian figures don't have a place in children's literature, even if the protagonist has no living parents. Adult figures can guide and prod the orphan children along. Adults can be evil stepmothers or dark warlocks and demonstrate what it means to be good in contrast. Or, adults can be wise, elderly, or just goofy and warm-hearted friends.


Orphans aren’t hard to spot in middle grade books. Walk into any children’s department in any bookstore, grab a book at random, and you’ll find their orphan status right in the plot summary:


All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle… --Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Sickly Mary Lennox, sent to live with her English uncle… --The Secret Garden


Sara Crewe, an exceptionally intelligent and imaginative student at Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies, is devastated when her adored, indulgent father dies. –A Little Princess


From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. –A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning


Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. –The Boxcar Children


Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. –The Book Thief


Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case… --Rooftoppers


Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children –The Mysterious Howling

There are other classic orphans, like Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, Huck Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as mythological (Romulus and Remus) and Biblical (Moses). They populate comic books and dominate movies and musicals.


Even some of the “evil” or “dark” orphans – Marvel Loki fans, I’m looking at you – are worthy of empathy and intrigue. Orphans fascinate us – their trials and triumphs, their very real struggles and immense obstacles, their success and endurance – and they continue to populate books for young readers.


Who is your favorite literary orphan and why?




Laura Crockett is a graduate student, bookseller, Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Everything good in her boils down to her Midwestern upbringing. Follow her Downton Abbey obsessions on Twitter (@LECrockett) and book interests on her blog http://scribblesandwanderlust.wordpress.com

Source: quirkbooks.com/post/what%E2%80%99s-all-orphans-kids-books
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text 2013-11-22 16:35
A Snowy Reading Quest: Great MG & YA Books To Read in the Winter
Breadcrumbs - Erin Mcguire,Anne Ursu
The Dead of Winter - Rennie Airth
Icefall - Matthew J. Kirby
Witchlanders - Lena Coakley
The Boy on the Bridge - Natalie Standiford

Reading books will always be my favorite way to spend the day, but it’s especially true during the colder months. Endless hours of darkness to sit by a fire or a nice warm lamp, curled up in a comfy chair or wrapped in a blanket, a warm mug filled with a nice hot beverage in one hand and a book in the other.


With these warm thoughts in mind during the cold months, it’s time to look into some winter-themed Middle Grade and Young Adult books that will melt your heart and freeze your spine. The cold, dark months may be a melancholy time for some (I cannot express how often I re-read Jane Eyre in the winter), but it can also be a time of exciting adventures or bone-chilling ghost stories.



Image via We Heart It


At the first snowfall, begin your winter story time journey with Let It Snow. A freak blizzard hits a small town and disrupts everyone’s Christmas plans. Three different sets of characters, all in some way known to one another, tell their 24-hour story of what they did that stormy day.


After you’ve taken a break to go sledding, pick up Breadcrumbs. Forge a friendship with Jack and Hazel and help Hazel find her friend after he’s captured by the Snow Queen. Dive further into the lighter reading with The Mysterious Howling. Touch base with your inner canine at Ashton Place and wreck havoc on your home -- figuratively, of course.


As night falls, immerse in the chilling ghost story, The Dead of Winter. Explore a haunted mansion owned by a tormented master, and help young Michael solve the mystery of the mistress’s death in the frozen moat. Look out for the ghosts in The Poisoned House, and guide Abi on her quest to discover who exactly poisoned her mother. Be sure to have all lights turned on for this evening!


The next morning, grab your sword and prepare for a magical battle in Witchlanders. Beware who you trust, the young farm boy destined to save his village or the powerful warrior destined to find his second half. Continue your adventure in Icefall, and discover the traitor in the midst that prevents everyone from leaving the claustrophobic fortress of ice.


Take a trip back in time to turn-of-the-century Paris, inside a cold abbey guarded by gargoyles in The Beautiful and the Cursed. Fight demons, discover inner powers, learn of the protective instincts of gargoyles, and experience the presence of angels like never before with Ingrid and Gabby. Fast forward to Cold War Russia in The Boy on the Bridge. Fall in love and question the motives of everyone around you.


After your whirlwind adventure through time, pick up that beloved, worn copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and cry tears of happiness when Harry discovers he does indeed have a true, loving family. The cold stones and warm hearths of Hogwarts will always be there for those who seek it.




Laura Crockett is a graduate student, bookseller, Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Everything good in her boils down to her Midwestern upbringing. Follow her Downton Abbey obsessions on Twitter (@LECrockett) and book interests on her blog http://scribblesandwanderlust.wordpress.com

Source: quirkbooks.com/post/snowy-reading-quest-great-mg-ya-books-read-winter
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