I don't know if many people realize there are "seasons" in the book publishing industry. Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer for most. Some publishers work on two seasons, but for the most part, there are three. And with them are author visit seasons too: Spring and Fall.
At the store, we have two more seasons as well for speaking/inservices/conferences. Late summer is when I go out to many schools and librarian gatherings to talk about new books. Fall, when many local conferences are in full swing, and Spring when, once again, local schools and organization do book fairs, reading events, and teachers become frantic for CEU's. If you notice, Spring and Fall seasons happen with all three. So now is a frantic time for me.
I'm reading every spare minute, trying to get caught up on all the books I missed in Advanced Reading Copies (and browsing picture books by the dozen as they arrive in the store), trying to get a jump start on the ARCs for the next season (we have them through October already in our storage area), and trying to keep up the with speaking engagements and new orders coming in for conferences and author visits.
It is because of this I decided to give the new Playaways a try. Now, I've never even owned a Walkman (dating myself here) yet alone an ipod, so I was a little reluctant. But last July I started a walking program, so I thought I'd give this new technology a chance. My first endeavor was Richard Peck's THREE QUARTERS DEAD. I have to admit, it made my hourly walks very enjoyable, and after several days, I had a new book I could talk about. BTW, this book takes Peck back to his roots as a writer. He started with teen thrillers and this one certainly is. Imagine your friends dying in car crash while one is on the phone with you. And months later you get a text from one of them. Enough said.
I don't think it will replace my typical reading habits -- there's something about a real book that makes reading worthwhile and important to me, but when I can't have a book, I think I'm going to like this alternative. And, it gives me a chance to catch up on the books I "missed" in previous seasons.
Speaking of author visit season, I get the opportunity to meet an author this Saturday whose work I've admired for several years now. I discovered him because his wife was our sales rep for another publisher. When she told me he had a book coming out, my curiosity was piqued. The title? Samurai Shortstop. The author? Alan Gratz. This book has one of the best first chapters I've ever read. Read this aloud to any group of kids, and you'll have a waiting list for the book. And, since then I've been impressed with everything he's put out.
This Saturday, he's stopping by the store (with his wife and daughter) to sign some stock, have a chat, and talk to whoever decides to drop by. If we're lucky, his new novel Fantasy Baseball will arrive in time for him to sign copies. Now, I've eaten lunch with Gary Schmidt, had a manuscript critiqued by Jerry Spinnelli, eaten dinner with Linda Sue Park, and even gotten a tattoo after a long conversation I had with Laurie Halse Anderson. So, you would think that this should be old hat for me, meeting a new author -- especially one whose wife is a friend, but I have to admit, I'm pretty stoked about his visit. He should be here some time around 2:30 in the afternoon. If you're in the area and would like to meet him, do stop in and say hi.
If you can't, I'm sure I'll be letting you know how it went soon.
In the meantime, keep reading.