Monday, April 24, 2017

Independent Bookstore Day 2017

This Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day! More than 450 bookstores in the United States will be joining the fun—click here to find your nearest participating bookstore.

Here in the Twin Cities, 18 bookstores will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day with treats, readings, prizes, and more. And, anyone who visits all participating bookstores will be entered to win a grand prize. Find more details here. (Not able to get from Excelsior to Hudson and everywhere in between? Hit 5 of the participating stores and receive a limited edition Twin Cities indie bookstore map.)

We asked several of our local authors to talk about some of their favorite stores in Minnesota—here's what they have to say:
"Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul is by far my favorite indie kids' bookstore. I bought books for my own kids at Red Balloon when they were small, celebrated my author-friends' readings over the years, and hey, had a great time doing my own reading of Sachiko in January. An international peace site AND a bookshop, Red Balloon knows that children can discover peace in books. Thumbs up, Red Balloon!"

Caren Stelson, author of Minnesota Book Award finalist Sachiko

"The Red Balloon has an amazing selection of picture books, and it does so much to bring authors and readers together!"

Laura Purdie Salas, author of If You Were the Moon

"My favorite bookstore is Red Balloon Bookshop because the wonderful owner Holly Weinkauf and her terrific team support local authors, provide a great selection of children's books, and can help you find new favorites."

Trisha Speed Shaskan, author of the upcoming Q & Ray series

"I love so many independent bookstores in the twin cities area: Excelsior Bay Books and Wild Rumpus have always been great and both organize fun themed trolley rides for kids, Magers and Quinn host great events like one of my favorite artists Daniel Clowes, Addendum is run by the two nicest people and it is the little bookstore that could, and the Red Balloon for their over-the-top and outgoing support of local authors and illustrators."

Stephen Shaskan, illustrator of the upcoming Q & Ray series (launching this fall!)

"My friends and neighbors Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl run Moon Palace Books—a spot in South Minneapolis that somehow manages to homey, professional, community-oriented, and erudite at the same time. I love that place; although I can never get outta there with just one book."

Shannon Gibney, author of Minnesota Book Award winner See No Color

"There are so many great indie bookstores, but my favorite is Addendum. Why? Its audience (YA folks), as well as its owners, Katherine and Marcus, two really incredible YA advocates."

Kirstin Cronn-Mills, author of Minnesota Book Award finalist LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field

"They say the best things come in small packages and it holds true for children's bookstores, especially for Addendum Books. Although Addendum is a tiny shop, owners Marcus and Katherine support kids, literacy, their community and local authors with the biggest hearts imaginable."

Jane O'Reilly, author of The Secret of Goldenrod

"My favorite indie bookstore nearby is Lake Country Booksellers in downtown White Bear Lake. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and always ready to pass along another fantastic recommendation."

Tracy Nelson Maurer, author of Noah Webster's Fighting Words

"My absolute favorite bookstore is the Bookstore At Fitger's in Duluth. The location is unique, charming, and literally just a few steps away from one of the best viewing spots on Lake Superior. It has a great selection and an amazing children's section, with not just books, but a huge collection of games and toys. They have Muppets. And candy. Lots and lots of candy. The staff is really cool, and they treat their local authors really well. You can get lost in this store for hours."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Q&A with Translator Sanda Watt

Picture book author Kate Hosford recently had the opportunity to talk with Sanda Watt, the Romanian translator of Kate’s first four books. Here are Sanda’s answers to some of Kate’s questions. 
Feeding the Flying Fanellis

Kate Hosford: Welcome to the Lerner blog, Sanda! Can you tell us how you became a translator?

Sanda Watt: My favorite story as a child was a Romanian version of Thumbelina where a tiny boy, small as a cornflower seed, would sneak into people's ears and hear their thoughts. I was overly fascinated with this particular detail and my poor sister had to tell me this story over and over again elaborating on this particular part where Seed-Boy would eavesdrop on people's ruminations.

Sanda Watt
I guess translation was the closest I could get to that: take people's thoughts expressed into words and break them into bits of meaning and intention.

So here I am, some 20 years later, delighted with my work shared between conference interpreting and the more quiet and solitary translation of books.

Kate: I was delighted when I found out that my first four books had been translated into Romanian. Can you tell the story of how that happened?

Kate Hosford
Sanda: I'm friends with Bianca Sava, psychologist and founder of the Association Atelierul de Zâmbete (which translates as The Smiles Studio) organizing workshops for parents and running projects for children in foster care.

Every year in their Christmas fund-raising campaign, Association Atelierul de Zâmbete relied on the small publisher Lizuka Educativ for book donations. But last year they had a different idea and a new project to support the association on a longer term: the Association would edit books of their choice, Lizuka Educativ would publish them and they would share part of the sales. I was so happy they chose Kate Hosford's splendid titles from Lerner Books and felt privileged to have had the opportunity to translate them.

Infinity and Me jacket

Kate: Two of my books that you translated are in rhyme and one is a book of poems. What were some of the particular challenges with those projects?

Sanda: Children love rhymes, and they have a very strong sense of rhythm and they're the first to spot a half rhyme or a broken rhythm. I knew I was up for some unsparing criticism. Sometimes I would just read one draft page to my daughter. When she gave me the big eyed smile I was relieved to know that I managed to convey the original playful cadence and humorous tone.

Big Birthday
The most challenging part was not complicating things, keeping the verses simple and transferring the sense in quite plain and accessible vocabulary. Sometimes I'd fix the most flowing rhythm and rhyme and then sit and wonder whether "lunar" or "celestial" are appropriate in children books.

Regardless of my choice, children simply loved the books. In one preschool, pages came off Big Birthday and then a teacher arranged them in the wrong order when he tried to glue them back together. But children already knew the book by heart and kept correcting their teacher when reading it to them while enjoying the laugh at the new sequence of events: "Nooooo, they first 'shot into space with gravity pulling on everyone's face' and then`boogied in a cloud of moondust'!"

Kate: My latest book is How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea. Which aspect of the book appealed to you most?

Sanda: I loved the repetitive style with the leitmotif dialogue. But what I love most is the little chat the queen has over the cup of tea with all her new friends. You see, in Romania, we're very big into cozy coffee shops and tea houses and when you want to discuss something, catch up with an old friend, or simply get to know someone better, you invite them to have a cup of tea or coffee together. We even have an expression which would translate as “sitting over a cup of words.” I think it is so precious that in our fast-forward lives we can sit down, relax, and open ourselves to others while sipping a cup of something warm.

Kate: The Queen goes around the world learning how to make tea in a variety of cultures. Can you tell us a bit about the role of tea and tea-making in Romanian culture?

Sanda: As Romania is just across the Black Sea from Turkey, centuries ago we borrowed their coffee drinking habit, which you also mention in the Author's Note at the end. So we're big coffee drinkers, while tea is mostly functional. Apart from children who may be served tea at breakfast, most people drink herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint, linden) or fruit tea (rose hip, berries) and mostly when they have a cold or other discomfort. Black or green tea have been rising in popularity only recently, but I'm still into herbal teas, and I love it when I visit my granny and can simply pluck some leaves from the garden and brew them for a wonderful refreshing drink.
A bonus recipe spread from How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Teaclick here to download.
Thanks, Kate and Sanda!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dazzle Ships Cover Reveal + Poster Giveaway

Last week, Betsy Bird revealed the cover of Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion on her blog, A Fuse #8 Production.

She also shared alternate cover illustrations, as well as a bit about the history of dazzle camouflage and pictures of ships painted with the eye-popping designs.

Dazzle Ships will be available on September 1, 2017. If you can't wait to start reading, you can request the title on NetGalley

Or, pick up a free copy and meet Chris Barton at the TLA Annual Conference this week in San Antonio, Texas! Chris will be signing on Thursday morning from 10:15 to 11:00 in the aisle 4 of the author autograph area. 

And finally, we're also giving away a poster of the cover to 10 lucky winners—click here to enter for the chance to win one. Good luck!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Meet a Lerner: Andy Cummings

Meet Andy Cummings, Lerner’s new Editor in Chief!

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I am a Midwesterner and grew up in Wisconsin just 20 minutes from Lambeau Field. So, yes I am a Packers fan but I look forward to seeing a Vikings game in that remarkable stadium. I have been involved in media from a young age. I was a sports reporter for my local paper from age 15 and have worked in publishing for over 35 years (I think I just gave away my age). I attended Northwestern and the University of Missouri where I earned a master’s degree in Media Management. I have worked and lived in Chicago, North Carolina, Poland, Missouri, Indiana, and now Minnesota. I am married with three kids—two boys in college and my daughter will join them soon.

How did you get into book publishing?

Like many things, it was a combination of fortunate events. I had been working in media in Indiana but looking for a new challenge. In graduate school, I paid my tuition by setting up and running a new computer research lab. I wrote and edited the documentation for students and professors. With that background in technical writing, I discovered a start-up publisher in Indianapolis that had just released the first Dummies title with a tech focus. I joined the team as employee #30. We grew rapidly and expanded globally for the next 20 years. It was a roller coaster with many more ups than downs. My last role was leading our technology publishing program as well as spearheading digital initiatives for the Dummies brand.

What have been some of your favorite projects or books to work on?

I have been fortunate to work on so many interesting projects. My first books as editor included working with emerging tech superstar author David Pogue on both Mac Secrets (1,200 pages edited in 30 days!) and Macs For Dummies. On the latter title, we put a 2nd title page under the cover called Macintosh Methodologies in Theory and Practice, so users could tear off the Dummies cover and show that 2nd cover if they wanted to show their peers or teachers that it was a *serious* book.

More recently, we introduced the first children’s titles from our company [John Wiley & Sons, which acquired Dummies in 2001] in over 200 years that were focused on STEAM topics and the initial titles became bestsellers. I am looking forward to working on many new educational projects at Lerner.

What were your favorite books as a kid? What are some favorite books you’ve read recently?

I read many, many sports narratives and stat books. I also loved and still love history books. I also read every book from Stephen King—even though some of them kept me up at night!

Say you’re trapped on a desert island—what 5 books would you want with you? 

Start with WHY (Simon Sinek). The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway). The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafón). Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut).

You moved to Minneapolis from Indianapolis in January. How do you like Minnesota so far? 

We are thoroughly enjoying the area. We have several close family friends who live here and it is terrific to catch up and see the sites with them. I am grateful that the Lerner staff provided an early education for me with a custom-made Minnesota for Dummies title the made sure that I understand critical issues and terminology. I am looking forward to exploring the many greenways and trails. Finally, we look forward to enjoying the rich arts community in the area.

Speaking of things other than reading, what are your hobbies? 

My wife and I love to be outdoors with our goofy and energetic (meaning misbehaved) rescue dog, Inka. We also volunteer for causes important to us. I am a prison literacy reading coach, food pantry volunteer, Boy Scout counselor, and volunteer for Junior Achievement.

If you weren’t working in publishing, you’d be a… 

Fun to speculate ... likely a high school teacher, or a guide to the mountains in Zakopane, Poland (preferably both!).

Thanks, Andy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Recap of ebookcraft and Tech Forum 2017

Special thanks to Kris Vetter Tomes for the following post!

I recently attended ebookcraft and Tech Forum, a joint, 3-day conference in Toronto hosted by BookNet Canada that explores various aspects of digital publishing. In addition to some delicious poutine, I saw some very interesting talks and workshops, and moderated a panel about repurposing content.
Repurposing Content panel. L to R: Kris Vetter Tomes (Lerner Publishing Group), Jordan Bass (McSweeny’s),
                Rachel Di Salle (Rogers Media), Franco Alvarado (Brill), Veronica Thompson (Inkling).

The main themes in this 3-day conference were the importance of accessibility (a11y), listening to your readers, pros and cons of DRM, the uncertainty of the future of “eBooks” (Will it be browser-based eBooks? Will it be something else?), and the increase in automation in eBook creation.

One of the panels that really stood out to me was titled “eBook Usability from the Library’s Perspective,” which included Maria Cipriano (Toronto Public Library), Sharon Bailey (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), and Jacqueline Whyte Appleby (Scholars Portal). I’ll break out the most interesting pieces:
  • The Toronto Public Library had over 5 million eBooks downloaded in 2016 alone, and saw a huge increase in demand for audiobooks, as well as an increase in requests for, read-along eBooks (like Lerner’s award-winning Audisee product), comics and graphic novel eBooks, children’s picture eBooks, and e-cookbooks.
  • TPL has seen an increase in devices used to read eBooks, which includes anything from e-readers to mp3 players to tablets to phones.
  • Readers are shifting away from PDFs and towards other eBook format types with more functionality and accessibility options—so much so that TPL now avoids purchasing PDFs.
  • All three of the panelists stressed the importance of metadata, correct BISAC headings, and the need for more accessible eBooks.
On the last day of the conference, Noah Genner, CEO and President of BookNet Canada gave us the scoop of the 2016 statistics for the publishing industry. Here are some quick bullet points:

  • 84% of Americans and 82% of Canadians read a book.
  • 38% of people said their reading/listening habits have increased.
  • 26% of people read/listened to audiobooks in 2016—a HUGE increase from previous years. Audiobooks are especially popular with females aged 25-34.
  • 90% of people read print books and 48% of people read eBooks, which are both similar to the previous few years.
  • The print book market is down 3.7%, which is within the margin of error. Noah attributed this to the spike of adult coloring books in 2015, and their subsequent fall in 2016.
  • Reading eBooks on a smart phone is up by 20%, and reading on an e-ink device has dropped off significantly. 
I highly recommend this annual joint conference for anyone interested in digital publishing. ebookcraft is more geared toward those who personally produce eBooks or distribute them, whereas Tech Forum is broader and aimed at anyone in the publishing industry—book creators, book sellers, book marketers, book buyers.