Chris Mills of Hughes and Hughes Dundrum reveals there is more to book selling than book launches and pricing guns!
If anyone had told me twenty years ago, that bookselling would involve playing with bits of coloured paper and cotton wool; I would have raised a gently inquiring eyebrow. These days I am more experienced in such creative matters. There are indeed times when it feels less like working in a bookshop and more like being back in primary school.
Like most things, our summer themed table began with a sketch of an idea. The tricky part is usually translating the idea into 3D reality. That was where the cotton wool came into play as we attempted to create a model of an ice-cream cone (complete with flake) for our centre display table. With the addition of yellow wrapping paper and some crepe paper in a lovely shade of blue, we were well on the way to bringing the seaside indoors.
The table has truly been a joint effort: Claire, Maeve and Michelle were responsible for some very bijou beach huts and a shoal of little Nemos. And did I mention the pirates? However, the piece de resistance was Andrew’s larger than life ice-cream cone, which dominates the table. Don’s original idea was very well realised by the team.
We have all had a great deal of fun cutting out shapes, but the serious purpose is obviously to make something a little more eye catching than basic merchandising. We have filled the table with stock aimed at parents and children, with a mixture of new summer titles, colouring and activity books and the Melissa and Doug ‘Sunny Patch’ range of toys. Melissa and Doug produce bright and cheerful gardening gear for kids, which include hats and gloves for any future ‘Bloom’ exhibitors out there. I was reminded of Dick King-Smith’s enchanting Sophie books when I saw the little ‘Bug House’. For anyone not familiar with the series, the plot of the first novel saw Sophie earnestly collecting garden bugs of all shapes and sizes for her mini farm. Not all parents would appreciate that one I suppose…
For those parents travelling with younger children this summer we have a good range of sticker, activity and colouring books. Maybe the Airport Colouring Book will peacefully while away the inevitable waiting time. If not, there is always Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to rely on, with for instance the Tales from Acorn Wood Activity Book.
Usborne Books have brought out a book made up of holiday postcards to colour. No excuses not to send cards to the grandparents then! We also have plenty of ideas for summer reading. I was completely charmed by Gerry Boland’s new Marco adventure, Marco: Master of Disguise (O’Brien Press). Marco is an escaped tea drinking grizzly bear who is hiding out from the zoo authorities. Áine McGuiness’ illustrations are wonderful; you could just see yourself giving a home to a grizzly like Marco.
If you want more ideas for children’s holiday reads, then look no further than to the winners of the CBI Book Awards, announced recently. For older readers, Celine Kiernan’s Into the Grey is a gripping and atmospheric story. Celine received the double whammy of the Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice Award. No prizes for guessing which one she was the most pleased to win.
At the other end of the reading scale, his delightful picture book Stuck will no doubt appeal to the many Oliver Jeffers fans around. Stuck won the Honour Award for Illustration, beating off stiff competition. His new book has recently hit the bookshelves, The Hueys in the New Jumper which promises to be another bestseller. I want a Huey of my own now (complete with orange jumper). Mark O’Sullivan won the Judges’ Special Award, forMy Dad is 10 Years Old; Paula Leyden won the Eilís Dillon Award for The Butterfly Heart, based on her own experiences of growing up in Zambia. Siobhán Parkinson had two titles in the shortlist and won the Honour Award for Fiction with Maitriόisce, which explored five generations of a family. Last but by no means least, Roddy Doyle was lucky enough to win the schools’ Shadowing Award for A Greyhound of a Girl, which is now out in paperback just in time for the holidays. Congratulations to all of the winners mentioned above. I hope I have given a few useful ideas for the holiday season, but if you need a bit of help choosing, just pop in and ask a bookseller!
Chris Mills Hughes and Hughes, Dundrum