Jennifer Brenninger, manager, children’s book buyer, and sidelines buyer at the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pa., talks about several books she’s especially enjoying handselling, and about her store’s top sellers during what’s shaping up to be a very busy holiday season.
One of my favorite picture books of the year is Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin. I’m always looking for picture books that have a magical feeling, that give me goosebumps. This one does. I have a B.A. in fine arts so I’m a bit of an art snob, and my job is to be discerning when helping to build a child’s library. This is a different-looking book and the art is absolutely gorgeous. I am so in love with it that I’m selling it to everyone I can. And Random House gave us free mini posters to give away with every purchase of the book.
Another favorite is Maps by Aleksandra and David Mizielinska. It’s one of the coolest books ever, and it belongs in every child’s library. It is a big hardcover with kind of cartoony maps of the whole world. It has a Richard Scarry feel to it in that each time you look at it, you see something you haven’t noticed before. This is a great book to teach geography to kids who are first-graders and up.
Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Jared Levine, and Sebastian Robertson is a hip and fun music book for kids. It’s a cool way to introduce children to big artists who have impacted the music industry and show them where some of the music they like now came from. Music really does cut across generations, and we’ve been selling this to people looking for gifts.
Another book I love is Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, which has an introduction by Cornelia Funke and is illustrated by George Cruikshank and other well-known illustrators. It has a cool black cover with metallic on it. I have this on my staff picks shelf at the front of the store, and we’re selling it to lots of adults as well as children.
In terms of top-selling holiday books, this year The Mitten is selling like crazy in hardcover and board book. Jan Brett books always sell well during the holidays, but this year The Mitten is outselling The Polar Express, which surprises me. New holiday books that are selling well are The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert, with photos by Per Breiehagen; Little Santa by Jon Agee; and The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor.
In fiction, we’re selling a lot of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. We received a nice batch of signed books and we have them in a display. We can’t seem to ever have enough copies of this novel. We sold tons of Veronica Roth’s Allegiant this fall, and that is still selling. And now people are coming in asking for the first book in the trilogy, Divergent, because there’s a trailer for the upcoming Divergent movie playing in theaters showing Catching Fire. That’s bringing new people to the series. We’re also doing well with the Divergent boxed set.
Other novels that are selling well right now are Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid #8: Hard Luck, The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt, a local writer who was one of nine authors who came into the store to handsell their picks during Small Business Saturday earlier this month.
It’s really been a strong season for us, and we’re very excited about that. We’ve been under new ownership for a year and a half, and we have lots of new ideas and lots of enthusiasm. We’ve changed the layout of the store and we are doing more with merchandising to generate customer loyalty. We feel it has really paid off.