Points of Sale is an occasional column that shares bookselling tips and ideas from booksellers for booksellers.
Children’s booksellers in general bookstores have long searched for effective ways to allow those who lack their expertise to feel comfortable selling kids’ books—and for families to better navigate the children’s section to find the right books, particularly at the holidays.
Her solution may not be the Holy Grail for all bookstores, but Kate Reynolds, general book buyer at Colgate Bookstore in Hamilton, N.Y., has found a successful way to help the booksellers at her store who are more comfortable selling textbooks, gifts, and logoware than books for children. In September, Reynolds reorganized the children’s room and devoted a large section of the back wall, which is visible when customers enter the store, to what she is calling “The Best of the Best.”
These are primarily books recommended by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, editor and children’s book editor, respectively, of the New York Times Book Review, in their newly released book on How to Raise a Reader (Workman). “That book was the genesis,” Reynolds said. “You could start a kids’ bookstore from the list of books in it.” She contacted the publisher to get a spreadsheet of all the books that Russo and Paul mention in the book. Then Reynolds went through the list to make her selections, adding a few favorite classics and staff picks.
One of the things that Reynolds particularly likes about How to Raise a Reader is that “it doesn’t talk down to parents. It’s pretty approachable.” Plus the titles are diverse, which was important to her. PW’s review also praised the primer as “recommended for all worried parents and anyone looking for suggestions of what books to read or give to children.”
Reynolds’s goal was to create a go-to place in the children’s room where nonbookish parents could find gifts and all booksellers could feel comfortable recommending titles. She posted shelf talkers for each section on the wall that explain what a board book is and what is a picture book, so that everyone could feel at ease, including staff and customers.
Although Reynolds put up her Best of the Best display in time to take advantage of the holiday season—when she plans to try to sell parents a copy of How to Raise a Reader along with a recommended title from the book for each of their kids—she has no intention of taking it down any time soon. “It is selling books, and it’s making it easy for people who aren’t me to talk over and sell a book,” she said. “It can be permanent.” For now though the area has a space to display the ABC holiday catalog, published by the ABC Children’s Group of the American Booksellers Association, so customers can find even more recommendations.