1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
Without a doubt, my favorite part of our bookshop is our children’s section. Although our shop is teeny tiny, we try hard to make the best, most creative, use of our space and the kids section was created with SO much love. Given that our shop is small, we needed to find a way to make it feel cozy and inviting even to our tiniest of customers and many hours were spent dreaming up how to best host the children that visit our shop.
2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
Unlike the previous question, this one is actually a lot harder to answer. There are SO many beautiful book covers out there, but if I had to narrow it down to one… or two… I’d say my current fiction favorites are Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Last Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleaton. Both of these covers TOTALLY caught my attention and are a big reason I was drawn to the books to begin with. They are gorgeous! I’m not necessarily proud to admit this, but I totally judge books by their covers, and a lot of times, this does not prove to be a good idea. But fortunately, in the case of these two books the outside cover matched up with what I thought about the inside. Beautiful inside AND out 😉
….And because I can’t help myself, I will mention just one more beauty! I am a HUGE fan of the Little People, Big Dreams children’s series and will always have them front facing in our shop. Their newest, Treasury of 50 Little Dreamers, is a fast favorite we have showcased front facing in the shop.
3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
My husband and I would probably answer this question very differently, but I’ll share my current picks and right now it would be Jodi Picoult’s new release Wish You Were Here. I just finished this one myself and am selfishly recommending it so that I can have someone to discuss it with. It’s the first novel I’ve read set in the pandemic and I have SO many thoughts about it. And she threw in quite the twist to boot. Jodi Picoult, in general, is a great rec. As far as a backlist pick, I love recommending both The Seven Husbands of Eleanor Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. They are both written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and she’s become a new favorite for me that I love sharing because I have enjoyed all of her books so far.
4. Do you have a strange customer story?
I have a great customer story that comes to mind, but it’s not so much strange as it is just awesome. We decided to open on Christmas Eve, but only for a couple of hours. The very first group that walked through the doors proved to be one of the most memorable, and fun, moments we’ve had to date! We hadn’t been open very long, when a group of about 10 people walked in. And because our shop is so small, they basically filled up the whole space. A couple of adults, and LOTS of kids varying in ages from 5ish to young adults walked in and immediately started scurrying around the store in what appeared to us to be some kind of scavenger hunt. One of the adults explained that all of their grandkids had just pulled names of the adults in the family, and they were on a mission to find each one a book from our shop as a Christmas gift, and they were on a time constraint. Immediately we jumped into action and the kids started calling out names, and information to us about each adult. I knew this group would be fun when I asked one of the kids to tell me a little about the person they picked and he looked at me and said: Do you have anything involving a drug cartel? I looked at grandma and she said…. let me explain. Let’s just say, we laughed the ENTIRE time they were in the ship and I’m proud to say we found a book for all of the adults.
I know we’ll always look back on that family and enjoy the gift of joy they gave us. I hope they come back next Christmas Eve
5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
Our first author event comes to mind right away. We hosted a really fun evening at the shop with local author, Stephen Andes, to celebrate his book Zorro’s Shadow. Stephen read from Chapter 1 of his book, while being accompanied by a friend on guitar, and guests sipped on wine, while sitting in comfy chairs. It was such a wonderful way to introduce the book to our readers. Stephen was a great narrator and had such great timing. The guitar accompaniment was the cherry on top. We definitely look forward to more author events like this one, especially highlighting local talent whatever possible.
6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
That you get to read wistfully while in the shop working. I totally pictured myself reading, sipping on coffee, while sitting at the register and occasionally helping someone find their next great read. I giggle thinking of that now. The reality is that since we opened up the book shop I have NO time to read. The irony hasn’t escaped me, but fortunately, being the bookworm I am, I still find a way to squeeze a book in here and there.
7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
Least favorite: data entry/inventory. For such a tiny shop, we sure can pack in the books ;).
Favorite part: getting to know, and connect with our customers over a shared love of reading, and all things books. Their support has been an incredible gift.
Tere Hyfield is the co-owner of Red Stick Reads in Baton Rouge, La.
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.