September 21, 2008

NAIBA, night 2

ran the gauntlet of hte expo. Publishers, wholesalers, books. Oh My! We planned maybe ne bag full.... left 3 stuffed to the gills. Tomorrow it's talk business with reps (the boring and hard part of the conference)

Off to sort and drool over our "take". THere are lots and lots of great looking books coming out this fall and winter. The economy may suck, but the writing in this country is exploding (in a good way!)


WOW! Day is a little half over and there's a bunch to blog about!

It started with a moderated chat with the owners of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo and Creekside Books in the Finger Lakes region. A nice session where we got to here from owners of two very different stores.. took lots of notes. Then publisher reps came in and went over their "picks" for fall and winter sales. Todd went to the kids one and I heard about tons of cool adult books (not THAT kind of adult book!) Lots of great books coming just in time for Christmas and Hanukkah shopping!!! (We'll have them at the store and on the website shortly).

Lunch was what they call a "Movable Feast". They have about 20 authors, and for each course you have a different author come sit at your table, and chat about their books, etc. We had a new author, Carolyn Baugh, whom I would LOVE to spend a whole meal talking with. She went to Cairo as an exchange student in 1992, and has since written a book about women in Egypt. It's fiction, but its based on the women she met while living there. She has also married and Egyptian and converted to Islam... so you can see my loving of her already! Our second author was Carl Capotoro, aka "Little Paulie" from the Sopranos (YES, REALLY!). He's written a memoir of his life growing up in the 60's & 70's with a very unique Italian-American father. It sounds like a really great read if you like quirky and true characters. He was a charmer and, of course, shared stories about life on the small screen. Our third author, whom we didn't get nearly enough time with was Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos. He's got a new YA book out that is a modern day Huck Finn, with a Latino-Irish boy at it's center. It's the debut of a new line of books being published for and about modern Latino youth.

After lunch we had another educational session. This one was about doing a store self audit.... I took about 15 pages of notes... needless to say, the next time you see our little "baby" it may well be very very different. (but change is good!)

Todd is down now for another educational session about IndieBound. Which I've blogged about before (see below). Later they open up the expo and we get to start collecting more and more "swag" and meet more authors.

I just have to say I LOVE ABA & NAIBA! Todd and I come back from these things with so much hope for our little store, that low sales can't get us down (at least for a few weeks). We've already started in a new direction for the store with the off site events we've added this year, and feel good because a lot of talk today has been about the importance of those types of things.

Off to head downstairs for the evening activities.. will blog more later :)

September 20, 2008

NAIBA, night 1

Well, after a 3 hours trip to Philly... yes THREE HOURS, we hit every single traffic light between Lititz and Camden.... needless to say we're going turnpike on the way home...but we're here!

This was a light night, with a "Philly buffet"- cheese steak and cheesecake. Before the doors opened we met the owner of a used/new bookstore in Meadeville PA- Tattered Corners. They are very similar to us in style, size, and what they carry. It was nice to see we weren't he only used guys here. Then at the supper we met the couple that owns Harleysville Books in Harleysville PA.

While we were seated we got to meet a few of the evening's featured authors: 2008 Caldecott winner Brian Selznikck (illustrator), Ann M. Martin (of Babysitter's Club fame) & Robin Gaby Fisher. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a story series she did after the 2000 Seton Hall Fire. She has turned that story into a new book called After the Fire. It's about the two roommates that were seriously injured in the fire. One of them came tonight to talk to us about the book. It sounds like absolutely amazing story of friendship and triumph. There is a short video on our store website about this book (click on the "Bookspots" logo on the main page, then scroll down our new books page to see the video).

So not bad to an hour of "work"! Tomorrow is a luncheon with authors "pimping" their books, and some breakout sessions to discuss bookselling. The most important thing Todd and I get out of this annual conference is a rejuvenation in our dedication to making our fantasy bookstore a reality... more on that tomorrow, after some nitty gritty meetings :)

Peace out book dudes and dudettes (yes, I need sleep! hehe)

September 15, 2008

A school I'd love to go to!

I don't reveiw books here that often. Mainly cause I'm no good at it. But this books totally rocked my reading world! The writing was so well done, filled with passion and clarity. (in other words some one like me that prefers "fluff" can "get it").

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

The book takes place at a cooking school. But this one has no recipes, just a love of flavor. Each chapter is a different week of the school, and focuses on a different member of the class. Each person, including the teacher, comes to the class with a past, and a need to interact. I swear this teacher is magical in bringing these people together the way she did. She just KNOWS.... The personal stories are interspered with the cooking and YOWZA. The descriptions of the ingredients and how they affect our senses of smell, touch, and taste are absolutely amazing. I salavate as I read each chapter. At one point I had to read a portion out loud to Todd, it was just so filled with powerful imagery that the passage took me to this home in Italy the character was remembering.

Now the book doesn't come out 'til next year, but you HAVE to add this to your January '09 shopping list (we'll have plenty of copies at Aaron's! hee hee)

September 11, 2008


September 11th is on the hearts and minds of folks around the country. Here are my remembrances for that day.

I had been teaching at a Middle school in the metro-DC area for all of 2 weeks. I was in Christa McAuliffe’s old room, and as I stood at my door looking at her plaque, waiting for the last stragglers to come to homeroom, at staff assistant came by and told me about the first Tower being hit. At the time we thought it was an accident. A few minutes later, while she and I were talking, the principal called all the VP's and hall monitors on the walkie-talkie to tell them about the 2nd tower and called an immediate meeting for them in his office. She and I just looked at each other, hugged, and knew we had a job to do. We still had not heard about the Pentagon or the plane in PA. I had spent a year researching the 1994 attack, and the group that the US claimed was behind it, so I knew exactly what was going on in the pit of my stomach. Luckily most of that day was a free reading time for my fist class, and I had just hooked up a computer in my room. I immediately go online and saw that the Pentagon had been hit, and in those early few minutes there were reports that the Mall in DC was hit (due to the smoke from the Pentagon). I went sheet white, and the kids picked up on it. It was a dilemma to tell them or not. Many had family (parents, brothers, cousins) in the areas that were reported to have been hit in DC). Toward the end of my 2 hours with them, 2 had already been pulled from class by their parents (the first of many that day). I knew I had to tell them what was going on, and being with me was the safest place for them, since I knew the most of anyone in the building, having spent years studying the subject of Islam and the Middle East. I told them, read some from the Washington Post Website out loud, and let them draw out their emotions on the blackboard. They were very brave, asked lots of great questions, and used me and each other to get through the day. Our team of teachers decided to tell the entire group (about 200) kids at lunch and have them come to me with questions. By the end of the day, we merged 4 classes (about 25 students that were left) and let them just watch the news with me, discussing and questioning. While I don't believe in a higher power that controls peoples daily lives, I do believe that I was put there at that time to help these 12 & 13 years digest a horrible day in American history.

Driving home that day, it was eerily quiet on the Beltway. There were lots of military jets flying real close to the ground, and not too many cars. The cars there were there were going slow and surprisingly, very polite about merging. Most had their windows down, and I could hear WTOP on lots of cars as we passed each other.

While 9/11 is a time of remembrance for the world, this time of year is a time that I remember more than just that day.

One year later, my area of DC was under attack by a vicious unknown serial killer. On the first day of his rampage, I was on bed rest (with a little doodle trying to come out early). I had asked Todd to go to the grocery store to get some things. We were equal-distant to 3 Safeway’s. I turned on the morning news, and found that 2 people had been shot at a Safeway parking lot near our house. Not knowing which store Todd had gone to, I was in a shear panic until he came back in the door. I was never so happy to see him in my life. Later that day, the killer went to a Middle School not far from the one that I taught at. The next few weeks, all outdoor activities at schools were canceled. We had to escort students to and from the buses, small groups at a time. The schools were on a complete lock down with cops everywhere. It was truly frightening.

Then a year after that, Hurricane Isabel hit. Todd was at a conference out West. Baby Aaron and I hunkered down in the basement with the dogs for 12 hours. Most of the time without power or phone service. I had managed one call to Todd that night before the worst part hit; to let him know were doing okay. I know that it was hard on him to not be there for us. We survived with only a little tree and deck damage (and 2 dogs that needed desperately to go out for a pee). When we went out a few days later, and on my way to school the following Monday, we saw the long lines of power company trucks from all over the East Coast, driving to our area to help restore. Places like the Carolina coast and Florida are used to it, but it was truly frightening for a hurricane to hit College Park MD! Seeing the outpouring from places as far away as GA, brought tears to my eyes (not a safe thing while driving on the Beltway!),

Then in November of 2004, my first love died when his helicopter was shot down in Iraq. This happened on my 32nd birthday. (Hence, me not celebrating my birthday anymore).

So September 11th is a day of remembarances for the coutnry and the world. It is the beginning of a time of great reflection for me, and a solemn beginning to a season of loss and fear from the past years. Thanks for reading my ramblings :) Peace to you and everyone around you this time of year.

INDIE part 2

This month's IndieNext featured book is from an author living in Bethlehem PA. She has written on her blog about how awesome independent bookstores are! YEA

I have it on pile to read next. We get to meet this author at booksellers event next weekend, and we will hopefully be able to snag her for a book signing here in the not too distant future.