Please welcome Christy Peterson of Vintage Books to the MWA NW blog!
Please tell us about Vintage Books! What makes your store unique?
As of this writing, I have been a bookseller at Vintage Books for 11 weeks, but the store has been in business, run by the same family, since 1975. Vintage shares attributes with many other indie bookstores–I think what makes us unique is the combination of a history in the community, the staff’s collective knowledge of books, writers, and the book business, and our comfortable, cozy atmosphere.
You handle social media for Vintage Books. Do you have any general social media tips for writers? What are some of the best ways authors can interact with your store on social media?
I think the best advice I can give about social media in general to any individual or business is to be yourself. Try different platforms and see which ones work best for you. Don’t focus so much on collecting the most followers–focus instead on putting out content that reflects who you are and building rapport with followers who engage with your content. As far as authors interacting with our store, I see social media as a potential for partnerships, both formal and informal. We love it when authors mention us in their posts and we love to mention the authors we work with in our posts. We love to build relationships over time with authors.
You’re also a writer in addition to being a bookseller. What surprised you about working in a bookstore?
I am loving the opportunity to take a deep dive in a totally different area of the book business. I’m not sure I have been hugely surprised by anything, but one thing that has come into focus is the overwhelming number of books that come out every single week. It makes you realize how special it is for any book to make it all the way through the publishing process and into the hands of readers. It motivates me to be a cheerleader for books I think are exceptional so they don’t get lost on the shelves. It also gives me great admiration for our book buyer, who wades through dozens of catalogs and hundreds of books every season to pick the ones she thinks our customers will like.
You also organize an annual event with the Vancouver Library. As an event organizer, how do you find authors for your festival?
When we started the festival back in 2017, I relied on my own network of author friends and suggestions from the staff at Vintage Books to build our initial list of local authors. Since then we’ve also added publishers to our list of participants and they’ve brought some of their authors too. Past participants have suggested future participants. It’s grown over time. Shameless plug here–Words & Pictures will be held virtually October 9 & 10, 2021. We have an awesome lineup of workshops, panels, author readings, and family activities this year. You can learn more here: https://fvrl.org/words-pictures
What do you wish authors knew about bookstores?
I think the biggest takeaway I have as an author who is also a bookseller is that shelf space needs to translate to revenue. Bookstores need to sell books. Think of your relationship with booksellers as a partnership. Anything you do on your end to help them sell books benefits both of you. But on a more emotional level, I walk through the shelves and think about the time and effort that went into writing each book. Words on a page that an author hopes will reach a reader. The other day I sold a book that had a “i” number (the numbering system for inventory in our computer) in the ten-thousands. We are in the three-hundred-thousands right now, so that book would have come in maybe around 30 years ago. So for around three decades it sat on our shelves, but a few days ago it finally found a reader. If you are an author, it’s our job to take the beautiful, funny, powerful words you’ve written and help them find their way to a reader who will love them. And that’s pretty special.
About Christy Peterson
Christy has written more than 40 nonfiction books and articles for young readers. She has written about a range of topics, from the history of Earth Day to famous rocks, but most often writes about science and technology.
Christy’s book Into the Deep: Science, Technology, and the Quest to Save the Ocean (Twenty First Century Books 2020) is a Washington State Book Awards finalist. Earth Day and the Environmental Movement: Standing Up for Earth (Twenty First Century Books 2020) was included on the Bank Street College of Education’s 2020 Best Children’s Books list and was longlisted for the 2021 Green Earth Book Awards. Her most recent titles are the Sesame Street® Friends Around the World series and the Crayola® Creature Colors series, both from Lerner Publications (2021) Other recent books include the Secret Spy books from Lerner Publications (2021).
You can find Christy online at www.christypeterson.com, on Instagram @cultivatingwonder, and on Twitter @Tweetstreefrogs.