Located in Hamilton Village, N.Y., about a half-mile from the Colgate University campus, Colgate Bookstore does a brisk adult and children’s trade business in addition to its steady sales of textbooks. Kate Reynolds, who has worked at the store for 15 years and is now the general book buyer, talks about some of the titles she is currently selling, what she expects will be popular for holiday giving, and several early 2016 releases she’s looking forward to.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers has been flying out the door. We were so crazy about their first book that we were very excited to get this one in. For us, this is definitely a “you’ve got to read this book” kind of handsell. And, as happens, having the sequel come out is helping sales of the original book as well.
Of course the Wimpy Kid books don’t need handselling, but the latest one, Old School, hasn’t been blowing out of the store the way I was hoping. We’ve sold a bunch, but not as many as expected. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the original readers of the early books have outgrown the series – or maybe it’s because only 2,700 people live in our town – which only gives us so many eight-year-olds to pull from!
An early chapter book I really love is The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi. I’m a big Elephant & Piggie fan, so when this first came in, I read it right away, and immediately upped my order and ordered the floor display. It is a wonderful book – it has a bit of Lady and the Tramp to it, and I anticipate handselling this a lot when people come looking for holiday gifts.
In middle grade, I’m greatly looking forward to handselling Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen, which comes out in February. Half of the story is told from a boy’s point of view and half from a fox’s point of view, and both narratives are really well done. The language is beautiful, and it’s a book that makes you think a lot.
In YA, there are a couple of books that are doing well for us, and are very much handsells. One is Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, which has just come out in paperback, so I expect we’ll get another bite of the apple, since it sold well in hardcover. I’m always excited to be able to offer readers great books for less money with the paperback editions.
And I’ve had fun selling by Tommy Wallach’s We All Looked Up, a pre-apocalypse tale about teenagers figuring out how to spend their last two months of life on earth. There’s a bit of The Breakfast Club in the novel, and a mix of characters representing different teen stereotypes. And I’m really looking forward to selling Thanks for the Trouble, Wallach’s next novel, which comes out in February. I think it’s even better than We All Looked Up.
As we get into the holiday season, I’ll be interested to see how the Star Wars books do when the movie opens. There are umpteen books out for every age and mood these days – everything from a board book with yarn characters to a rewriting of the Star Wars stories in Shakespearian language. We’ve got a table with many of the books on display, and we even had some licensed Colgate Yoda and Darth Vader t-shirts made, which are blowing out of here!
A book we really love selling is the picture-book version of Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky, featuring the three toys from their chapter book series that began with Toys Go Out. I find this book enchanting, and am really looking to sharing this with customers during the Christmas season.
Another book we will definitely be recommending for holiday gifts is Eoin Colfer’s Imaginary Fred, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. It’s a great story about a character who can’t figure out why no one has chosen him to be their imaginary friend, and who goes on an adventure to find his real friend.
Looking at board books, we are mostly a classic board book kind of place – along the lines of Sandra Boynton, Dr. Seuss, and Margaret Wise Brown. But one new board book that we will definitely handsell at Christmas is Dream Snow by Eric Carle, which is both new and classic at the same time – and that’s very nice.
Also for the gift-buying season, I ordered Random House’s Christmas floor display of Little Golden Books. These books are hard to sell spine-out, since you can’t tell them apart, but we don’t have the space for the permanent spinner rack, so I think this display will work well.
Though I actually don’t do a lot of tie-in stuff – I’m apt to leave that to big-box stores – I definitely am not going to cut off my nose to spite my face, so I also ordered in some of the new Frozen books, since it’s an ongoing phenomenon. One of my favorites is Reindeers Are Better Than People, which has plush antlers sticking up from the book. I’m not exactly sure how we’ll display it, but I’ll find a way!