Children’s booksellers and publishers had a strong presence at Winter Institute 13 (January 22–25), which was held in Memphis, Tenn. The ABC Children’s Group at ABA sponsored several sessions, including one on Tips and Tricks to Train General Booksellers to Handsell Children’s Books. It was led by Clarissa Murphy, children’s bookseller at Papercuts J.P. in Boston, Mass., and Gen de Botton, manager of ABC Children’s Group at ABA.

Other panels, like one on Best Practices for Buying, Marketing, and Handselling Diverse Books, which was moderated by Aaron Curtis of Books Books in Coral Gables, Fla., offered a number of ideas that are equally applicable to children’s booksellers. Panelists included Hannah Oliver Depp of Word Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J.; Lane Jacobson of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Melanie Knight of Books Inc. in Alameda, Calif.

  • Make sure booksellers know your local children’s bestsellers. (Murphy)

  • Don’t worry about suggesting an inappropriate book. Children self-censor. (Murphy)

  • For parents concerned about content, suggest that they read the book, too. (Murphy)

  • Recommend that customers looking for a gift for a newborn explore board books and pick one that appeals to them. (Murphy)

  • Make a cheat sheet broken down by age and grade. (Murphy)

  • Picture books often have descriptive copy on the covers. If a customer wants a picture book suggestion, you can pick up a couple of books and come up with a two-sentence pitch quickly and easily based on the copy. (Murphy)

  • Suggest that booksellers read a picture book if they have a few moments of downtime. (Murphy)

  • Have other booksellers ask a children’s bookseller for their recommendation pitch. (Murphy)

  • If your booksellers have long commutes, suggest that they listen to YA books. YA audio titles are available through Libro.fm. (Suggestion from audience)

  • Have all booksellers shelve books in every area and ask them to re-alphabetize every two weeks. (Suggestion from audience)

  • Ask the kids’ buyer to read children’s books aloud at staff meetings. (Suggestion from audience)

  • Invite kids’ reps to sit in on a staff meeting. (Suggestion from audience)

  • If booksellers like adult science fiction, suggest that they try kids’ sci-fi. (Suggestion from audience)

  • When doing displays like ones for Women’s History Month in March, be sure to take a step back and look around the store for books that might not be an obvious choice. (Depp)

  • When doing displays, put yourself in the customers’ shoes and try to see what they see when they walk in the store. (Jacobson)

  • Use your sales rep for ideas about diverse books. Your sales rep will be happy to sell you more books. (Depp)

  • “I put up a ‘strong women’ display in the children’s section, and it sells.” (Knight)

  • Word does a lot of displays that suggest, ‘If you like this book, you’ll like this one.’ A recent pairing was Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls with Ada Twist, Scientist. (Depp)

  • It’s part of your job to handsell. It shouldn’t matter what color the character’s skin is. (Knight)

  • We do old-fashioned flyering to get customers to come to events, including at libraries and schools. (Depp)

  • If you run book clubs in your store, make sure the reading list includes diverse authors. (Depp)

  • If you have a small staff, consider asking customers and former employees to run in-store book clubs. (Jacobson)

  • Rather than hovering over customers, try being “a book fairy.” When you see a customer pull out a book, walk by and say “that book is amazing” and walk on. (Knight)

  • Consider manually tagging every picture book. Adult booksellers then feel more comfortable selling books in the section. (Suggestion from audience)