Happy Happy Holiday morning, dear Mixed-up files Readers! Have I got a special indie spotlight for you today! I mean, innovative? Doesn’t even start the tip of the iceberg in describing this great bookstore!
We’re going to slant this interview especially towards all the absolutely amazing promotions these guys do. I wanted to add the normal, general stuff as well, but we ended up spending over an hour talking about their absolutely AMAZING promotions and books and ideas, and I have to say, if I ever lived anywhere in the US, I’d make sure to visit Book People just for what all they offer! It’s amazing!
But check it out for yourself…
JKB: Meghan, welcome to the Mixed-Up Files! You’re located in one of my favorite states of all, Texas, and one of the coolest cities in it, Austin! How long have you been with Book People? And you’ve been buying the YA/MG/PBs ever since? Match made in heaven, I think!
MG: Thanks! I’ve been here about five years, now. And yes, been the young persons buyer the entire time!
JKB: I’ve snooped through your website, and I think it’s great. It looks like you’ve got a real handle on books and a definite corner on the market in Austin! Can you tell me a bit about how Book People sets itself apart from the competition – both online and off? (Because frankly you’ve got one of the better setups I think I’ve ever seen! Other indies, take note!)
MG: Sure! We’ve got so many great things…I’ll start with author visits. Not only do we have your standard author visit, but we actually cooperate with the school system to bring the authors to the schools – and make real events of it!
JKB: You bring the authors to the schools?
MG: Yes! It’s such a nice merge of author visit and interactive for the kids, the teachers love it – and the students do too! We also do family nights, where the entire gang comes down and participates in an author signing. We get a lot of families doing that.
JKB: I bet! It looks like you have some big players come through your doors, too!
MG: We’ve been very fortunate. *g* We had the smart chicks tour through most recently, and Vordak, and that was a lot of fun! We get a lot of great authors coming through Austin.
JKB: I bet! And I see here you also run literary camps?
MG: Yes. That was the brilliant idea of our outreach director, and kids and parents have been amazingly supportive and excited for them!
JKB: I would have killed to go to a book camp when I was little! I absolutely love that idea!
MG: We’ve got lots more where that came from! There’s our teen book festival, which had over 1000 teens this year, an amazing turnout! We also work with doing smarter book fairs.
JKB: What’s that?
MG: We have roughly four large book fairs at our four biggest schools throughout the system in the year. We’ll make up lists (like for instance, the summer list had about 700 titles on it) and distribute those. Then the kids’ll order and boom, instant book happiness! We also do smaller book fairs inside the store, so that the family can join in.
JKB: Oh, cool! Family as in parents and everything? What a cool idea, to have a book fair in the store for parents too!
MG: Yes. You have to remember, kids aren’t our only customers. We have to sell to parents, grandparents, we have to keep all the markets in mind at the same time. That’s why physically the school book fairs are a great way to interest our core fans. The parents and other markets we get at our book family nights, author signings, and so on.
JKB: That’s true. I know many authors wonder how to reach the kid through the parents, but sounds like you have both sides at once here! Now, do you also worry about Amazon, or online sellers?
MG: Well, you can’t discount them. But we’re working with google ebooks, and we sell on our site as well, so we’re doing a lot in that arena now. We also have Facebook and Twitter for online outreach, and do specialised promotions only for those areas.
JKB: Like … ?
MG: Like giveaways, tickets, and so on. Our fans have another way to win and we get more online presence. It’s a win win situation!
JKB: So, how do you like to find your books? Tell me about a couple that are flying off the shelves, or a couple of your personal favorites?
MG: Well, one you’d not think would but is is “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda”. The mix of humor and Star Wars, the comedy in it … what a great book! I personally like “Finnegan of the Rock” as well, and do hand sell that a lot. I find that if I love a personal gem, I have a lot more leeway to show it to people in an independent bookstore. We have people ask us what we recommend all the time, and you can’t get that so easily in other formats of book selling!
JKB: Very true! So, working anything up for the holidays?
MG: We do! We make a yearly “Best of 2010” list for different sections, and we also create a Holiday catalogue and distribute that both online and in print! It really helps our customers find that perfect book for that perfect someone.
JKB: *In AWE* Oh wow, you guys are on top of things! Thank you SO MUCH for coming to TMUF and agreeing to be our FEATURED HOLIDAY INDIE for December! Here’s my thing, guys: You’ve still got time before Christmas! Go to Book People NOW and buy something, and please support this absolutely fabulous bookstore!
I know I’ve bookmarked their site, and I’m gonna order through them from now on! Spread the holiday cheer, my friends!
And have a great one!