• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Learning Differences > Alamosa Books – New Children’s Indie in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • OhMG! News


    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Alamosa Books – New Children’s Indie in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Learning Differences

Today we’ve got Elizabeth Anker, owner of Alamosa Bookstore on the line! We appreciate Elizabeth for being here and sharing her expertise about children’s books. Lots of great info so keep on reading!

Front End of Alamosa Bookstore

Q: Elizabeth, you’ve been a past children’s buyer at another independent bookstore. What made you decide to open your own store? 

I had initially thought of buying that very independent, but the current owner took it in a different direction than I wanted to go — largely opting to sell used books. I love kids’ books too much to get too deep into the used market. (Kids’ books don’t usually survive long enough to make used books.) Since there did not appear to be a store that catered to kids, I decided to open one.

Q: What were some of your concerns – and hopes – when you opened Alamosa Books?

My biggest concern was the economy. We put the whole thing on hold for over a year. But it seems that book sales are rather independent of economic conditions. Evidence from other booksellers around the globe indicates that books are one non-essential that people will continue to buy even when they cut back drastically elsewhere. In fact, early in the recession sales of books actually increased relative to other retail sectors. Amazing, isn’t it!

Young Adult Room

My fondest hope is to give to this community what I had growing up in college towns — a place to discover the ideas of others. Where you can read in a corner or giggle with your friends. Where you can find something that you never knew you wanted, and find that it becomes dear to you. A place to be inspired. I don’t think there is anything like that in Albuquerque, nor even in Santa Fe.

Q: Why do you specialize in all things children’s: ie: fiction, non-fiction, educational, picture books, novels, stuffed animals and toys and novelties, etc.

I really truly prefer kids’ books! I love the art in picture books — and the sly humor. I love YA novels in all styles. And I love learning. I really never grew up, certainly never lost my inquisitive nature.

Happy Alamosa Staff!

Q: Tell us about some of your events at the store.

We have such a variety. For all ages and tastes. We may have come close to featuring every YA and children’s author in the state in our first 18 months of operation. Plus we have regular book club meetings and story time. And we have had many of this state’s fabulous poets both for individual events and group readings. We’ve even had open mic music nights in the summer — largely for teens (they stay rather late. . . ) We’ve done everything I think a store can do to make this store an ideal location for events of all kinds.

The New Mexico Chapter of The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators meets every month for their schmoozes at Alamosa Books – thank you! 

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a bookstore owner?

Buying new books! I love seeing the creativity. I can hardly resist a catalog of books! Makes for an overfull store sometimes.

Q: Share with us some of your favorite books from childhood.

See, now, I just can’t answer this question. I have always been a reader, and I really love all sorts and everything. Even as a kid I had piles of books and haunted libraries. I read quite a lot of Sherlock Holmes as a kid. I loved British fantasy and wanted desperately to live in either Rivendell or Gormenghast. I read The Trumpet of the Swan thirty times by the time I was twelve. In my teen years, I read a boatload of science fiction and much of what is called “the classics” though I did tend to gravitate to the edges (liked Tortilla Flat much more than Grapes of Wrath, Gogol over Tolstoy, etc.). But in the midst of all this fiction, I would read history books and philosophy. Loved science and math. The only things I really have never liked are touchy-feely self-help books and straight up, meet cute, boy gets girl romance.

Authors Carolee Dean and Caroline Starr Rose speaking about writing verse novels at the monthly SCBWI Schmooze

Q: How do you see the landscape of children’s literature evolving: as far as the type of books being published, as well as electronic books?

Obviously, there is an explosion of young adult and middle grade fiction. It’s overwhelming. It makes my job as a bookseller absolutely essential — because how can any non-professional keep up! And I think the most creative and original plot-driven fiction in the last decade has come out of the kid market. The biggest change though is the sheer volume of books printed. A bestseller in the children’s market — a book that kids all over the globe will buy and read — is wonderfully new — kids are reading!

Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily all roses because the pressure publishers put on writers to pen that huge book drives emulation. When one book succeeds there is a rash of the same book released about nine months later, just like in the adult markets now. Witness the glut of dystopian fiction that is largely vying for a piece of the Hunger Games pie. That wasn’t true ten years ago in the children’s market. There weren’t huge books to emulate, so writers were given quite a bit of creative latitude.

I’m not sure I like the bestseller mode of publishing, and I really don’t like its incursion into the kid market. And it’s self-defeating. I mean, to find the next book every kid will want to read — to find the next JK Rowling — you have to take on risk as a publisher (and a bookseller), not push an author to write in a certain direction. So while there is an explosion, there is already a trend toward discouraging the kind of originality that produces that next huge book. It’s a self-perpetuating conundrum. Particularly in a tough economic climate where risk is squelched at every opportunity.

Great Wall of Picture Books

As to electronica. . . I just don’t know what will happen with e-books in the children’s market in the near future. I don’t think they are even close to inventing an electronic equivalent of the picture book, for one thing. I would love for workbooks, quickly dated reference books and textbooks to go totally electronic. However, the devices they have now are not really interactive — just turning pages back to find something you forgot is a chore on devices like the iPad or the Kindle. So technology has to improve quite a bit before that is feasible. I would also love to see mass market novels for any and all ages converted to e-books. These are the things that only withstand one reading — both the physical book (usually the spine) and the story. They really are a waste in print.

Reading Corner

That said, it is difficult to see what role a bookstore would play in selling e-books. And unfortunately for this bookseller, I’m quite sure e-books are the future. It is so cheap to produce and distribute an e-book (without significantly lowered retail prices) that in my store’s lifetime, books will all become electronic. So eventually, I’ll be an anachronism. But for now, I’m just politely ambivalent toward the whole e-book thing.

Q: What is the process of purchasing books? Catalogs, ARCs, sales reps, reviews? How do you decide what to put on your shelf space and how is it different from other bookstores?

Long and never-ending! I am playing hookey now. We get catalogs — electronic for the bigger publishers, otherwise paper. We have field reps (those who know our store because they visit) for only a few publishers. Most publishers have telesales reps; many have banded together under group reps like Tom Faherty (an agency that sells over 30 publishers of all sizes). So we really don’t have a lot of tailored help in buying.

I use the ABA Next list and the NYTimes Book Review, but neither of these sources is terribly kid focused. I spend quite a bit of time online, and I read trade journals and newsletters constantly. I also read almost all the ARCs that come to our store. We get boxes of advances from the ABA every month, plus we are starting to get a good selection from each of the big publishers for each season.

Decorated for Halloween

I honestly don’t know what makes me decide to buy a book. It is highly intuitive. I know who comes into our store, and I know who I would like to draw into our store. I know what those people will buy. So that is part of the equation. I also want to have as broad a selection as possible and strive to find unique offerings. I nurse a bit of intellectual vanity and love to have prestige books poking out here and there. And some things I buy just because I want it. Because it tickles my fancy. And I have such a lot of fancies.

So I guess my buying process is about as individual as I am. I have my unique points and my commonalities just like everyone else in the world, and the store’s selection reflects that. What is on these shelves is kind of a window into my mind. . . scary as that sounds. . .

Love that last line, Elizabeth – a window into your mind! That is exactly what you’ve shared today on From the Mixed-Up Files! Thank you so much for your time and knowledge and expertise.

Next time you’re in Albuquerque, go visit Alamosa Books – it will be one of the highlights of your trip! You’ll probably walk out with a stack of fabulous new books and gifts for everyone in the family!
Kimberley Griffiths Little’s favorite places to hang out are bookstores and libraries. Her middle-grade novels with Scholastic are The Healing Spell which won the Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010 and is on the Bank Street College Best Book of 2011. Circle of Secrets will be published October 1. Please visit www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com to download free guides for teachers and book clubs.

Comments Off