Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Interview with the Geniuses Behind the Bookstore-BookBlogger Connection Website

In Sue’s Saturday Suggestions #8 I posted a link to the Bookstore-BookBlogger Connection website run by Andrea and Elizabeth, two ladies that I follow on their individual book blogs. I was intrigued by the idea and so I asked the ladies a few questions to get a better idea of what the website is all about and why we should all be supporting it. 

1. Could you introduce yourself?

Andrea: I'm a nerd, book reviewer, blogger, and lover of books. Bookstores and libraries are my bat-cave.

Elizabeth: uh... ditto. Sort of. I am a lifetime reader of science fiction and fantasy, and I'd have way more money in my savings account if I didn't buy so many books. But, of course, my life would be so less the richer. I don't review books very much any more, I found that it's not really for me (it's too much work!) but we keep up a running discussion on bookish life with Darkcargo.

2. How does the Bookstore-BookBlogger Connection work?

Andrea: it's easy. Book bloggers submit "blurbs" - a sentence or two of book reviews they have posted on their blogs, and when we have enough we'll start offering them to bookstores to help promote books.

Elizabeth: Bookstores are welcome to use these blurbs to sell their booky stock, either used books or new books. One way that Andrea came up with is to have them nicely printed on cardstock as shelf-talkers. Another way that we might find to be useful is to create a page that bookstores can log into in order to allow customers to browse an indexed, linked listing of books that their peers have read and enjoyed. The point is that it's us "joe-schmoes" that are reviewing and recommending books to one another. I know that I pay more attention to the peer reviews from my fellow bloggers than to the hoity-toity (sorry) litteratzi reviews from Publisher's Weekly and the like. I've never bought a book reviewed in a major magazine or newspaper, but I am forever buying books that my pals have raved about.

3. What made you think of the idea in the first place?

Andrea: Elizabeth and I had been brainstorming about our shared love for used bookstores and older books. How could we help older titles get more attention? After much brainstorming, this is what we came up with.

Elizabeth: Talking to the "Chapel Hill Sisters" (see question below), I was asking about a book that someone had reviewed...on some book blog...somewhere... and I wanted to buy a copy, hadn't they kept up with all the book blogs? No, of course not. What's a book blog? Urp! We need to make a connection here! I thought.

I used to work seasonal at B&N and we'd have to put up these shelf talkers with these lame blurbs by people no one knew, for books no one cared about. But you know what sold books? The booksellers recommending books to customers. It's that one-on-one that sells. Having a book recommended to you is one of those cool intellectual gifts.

4. Do you have a favorite independent bookstore?

Andrea: Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo Michigan. They have the best staff in the world, tens of thousands of books, and Tinker (the cat) meets me at the door. I'm also a huge fan of John King books in Detroit, Michigan

Elizabeth: No. All of them. It's like asking which is my favorite color. Some that I frequent often are the mobile bookstores that attend the science fiction conventions we get to go to. There are the "Chapel Hill Sisters", out of Durham NC who set up shop at StellarCon, RavenCon, ConCarolinas. They know me now, and it is quite the experience to have them jump up and down and scowl at me when I admit to not having read thus and such. They will, needless to say, slurp all my cash away in a weekend.

5. Could you share your favorite blurb or the blurb for your favorite book?

Andrea:  oooh, tough question! I think so far my favorite is from Books Without Any Pictures for Catherynne M. Valente's Deathless. She says:
 "Deathless is the kind of book that ruins all other books by creating a standard that’s impossible to live up to. Everything else just seems pale and watery by comparison. If you have even the slightest interest in Russia, folklore, or fairy tales, then you should read this one immediately."
Don't you just want to go out and grab that book right now?

Elizabeth: I'm going to point at Books Without Any Pictures, too, with a blurb for C.S. Friedman:
"One of the things that impresses me the most about C. S. Friedman’s writing is that her characters are morally ambiguous. Nobody in the book is purely good or purely evil, but instead characters have complex and multi-faceted personalities and ambitions."
I like this blurb because it captures some of the pinnacles of what makes Friedman's writing unique, it's not tied down to any one of her books but is true of all of them.

6. What do you hope to achieve with the Connection?

Andrea: I hope to help foster a growing partnership between used bookstores and bloggers. 

Elizabeth: I'd like the book blogger community to become better recognized for the work these people put into their reviews. It's a lot of work, several hours per week.

7. How do you see the Connection developing and growing in the future?

Andrea: I see it developing and growing a lot!  Just having quite figured out how, or in which directions yet.

Elizabeth: at the least, I foresee a massive index of book reviews for the SF/F genre, which would be cool in and of its own, even if the bookstores don't have much use for us.

My thanks to the ladies for answering my questions and for starting this wonderful initiative . . . now I must go and write some blurbs to add to the site!


Please let me know what you think, because comments make me happy!

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