A Bookish Adventure

I started this blog to document an extended trip to the US and UK in 2012, introducing children to my Alice-Miranda series. It's hard to believe that it's just on four years since we launched the first Alice-Miranda title - and now there are nine books out in Australia with another five still to come. When I first came up with the idea of this precocious seven and a quarter year old, I had no clue that she would take me on such an amazing journey, not only in Australia but also across the world. I visited 37 schools while we were away in 2012 and gave over 80 talks - it was fantastic. In 2013 I've been on lots of new adventures in the UK - visiting schools from London to Southampton, Lancashire, Scotland, Newcastle and back to London again. After that I headed off to meet readers in Singapore. In Australia I've been to Melbourne, Perth, Albany, Alice Springs and Brisbane. There's a new series too - about a gorgeous little girl called Clementine Rose. She and Alice-Miranda don't know each other yet, but they will soon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bookstores In NYC

Today marks 30 days away.  The past couple of days have been quieter – and I feel like we’ve actually had a little down time – between editing and writing blog posts and other things.  We’ve moved to a hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to a neighbourhood that I am fast falling in love with.  It might not be the hippest or the busiest part of the city but perhaps that’s why it’s so appealing.  There are still great shops and markets – in fact everything you could possibly need is within a few blocks.  There’s also the subway and the park – oh the park.  A little slice of paradise in the middle of Manhattan – not so little actually and one of my all-time favourite places.  I can’t imagine NYC without the park.  It would be impossible to live here, where the park makes it fantastic.

Yesterday we spent several hours sitting in the B&N Upper West side café.  I was writing.  Ian was working and it was great.  I met the children’s staff upstairs and they were kind enough to invite me to sign all of the copies they had of Alice-Miranda On Vacation.   Mid afternoon we upped stumps and walked across the park to B&N on the Upper East Side.  They had worked with The Hewitt School to supply books for my visit there and I wanted to thank them.  In the children’s department there was a uniformed police officer standing just by the new releases.  And when I say standing there, he was standing there for ages, just watching.  Ian wanted to take a picture of me next to the books so I told the officer what we were doing lest he think there was anything odd going on.  I asked what he was doing and he told us that in New York, stores and other companies can hire uniformed police officers when they are off duty to work as security.  He said something about a staff issue.  I can’t imagine the NSW constabulary being granted permission to work in uniform in shops back home.
Anyway we took the photo and then I met a group of the staff who again asked if I would like to sign all the stock – they had paperback copies of Alice-Miranda At School as well and one of the guys told me that there were several girls who were regular customers that asked about Alice-Miranda and knew that there are more books in Australia.  It was great to hear that he knew about the books.

They were keen to work with me on an event next time I come.  We then caught a train downtown to Union Square as Ian needed some new shoes and we’d heard there were some good shops around that area.  There are good shops in every area!  We then visited another B&N and met a fellow called Stan who told us that Olivia Newton John had done a signing in their store last Friday.  He was a very chatty fellow and works at The Met too.  His knowledge was amazing – I wish we could have him take us on a tour as I’m sure he knew every secret in the place.  I signed all the stock and Stan was especially keen that next time I should work with them on an event. 
We were actually looking for a specialist store called Books of Wonder.  It was just along a little further from B&N.  It’s a beautiful shop with new and rare books too.  There were first editions of Harry Potter for $5000 as well as gorgeous framed illustrations.  They have a sweet café too.  I looked for Alice-Miranda and didn’t find her.  I asked a fellow called Sam – he told me that they don’t have a huge RH range at the moment – which is a pity – but I understand that that GFC has really hit bookshops here hard. Anyway, he suggested that next time I come to town I get in touch with the owner and see if I can be part of an event – perhaps a panel of authors. 
Each time I’ve visited a bookstore, here in New York and in other places across the country I’ve scanned the shelves for Australians.  So far, I’ve seen loads of John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series, at least a few of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief in every store but beyond that, you have to look hard.  Yesterday I found one copy of Andy Griffith’s The Day My Butt Went Psycho and a whole shelf of Deltora Quest in Books of Wonder, one Garth Nix title and two of Deb Abela’s Spy Force AKA Max Remy but that’s it.  There is so much competition here – and Australian’s are few and far between.  I hope that Alice-Miranda garners a following – and that she’s stocked for a start.  After all, they can’t sell what they don’t have.  It's also important that people working in the stores read the books - I suspect that's more likely to happen in the independents and so far I feel that my best chance is with the stores around San Francisco whose staff had read and enjoyed Alice-Miranda.  I also know that it’s a lottery and just being published here is fantastic – at least Alice-Miranda might be in with a chance.
On the weekend we visited a gorgeous bookshop called Rizzoli on West 57th Street.  I was lucky enough to meet the buyer, Joe Pilla – a lovely man who didn’t know about Alice-Miranda but said that he would order some copies early this week and asked if I would stop by and sign them before I leave.  This trip has really bought home to me that people are so kind – and saying hello isn’t hard!

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