Tuesday, January 31, 2012


A CNet, Harry McCraken gives a few ideas as to how B&N can help boost sales and save the company. As he says in his article, all he saw when he walked into B&N recently was the Nook booth and the push of digital offerings at the magazine area, people at the cafe, and a bland offering of books. Below are a few of his suggestions to make the store better:

"A more inventive selection, more inventively displayed. Sorry, B&N, but my favorite local bookseller is Green Apple Books, an independent in San Francisco that's filled to the brim with fascinating stuff. I can't go in there without immediately stumbling across several books I want to buy. By comparison, today's B&N stores have a bland, cautious feel: They're largely about the books I already know, not the ones I'd never discover otherwise.

More art books. Nooks, Kindles, and iPads still aren't great when it comes to heavily illustrated volumes. Their screens are too small and they don't have enough pixels. I suspect that coffee table books will still sell well even after novels and other more text-oriented books have mostly gone digital, so the more of them B&N stocks, the better.

Discounts! When B&N stores first started popping up everywhere, the chain's slogan was "If you paid full price, you didn't get it at Barnes & Noble." Somewhere along the line, the company ditched automatic price breaks on non-bestsellers in favor of discounts granted only to members of a club that costs $25 a year. (It must be a profit center--at the store yesterday, a cashier was trying to browbeat customers into joining up.) Given that B&N's principal competitor is Amazon, where discounts of 30, 40, and 50 percent are the norm, its books almost always feel overpriced. Might it sell many more if it charged a little less?"

You can read the whole article here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I was listening to WAIT WAT, DON'T TELL ME on NPR this morning, and Jack Gantos - winner of the Newbery this year - was a special guest. He told his tale that was written about in this book:

I had no idea until now what this book was about! Crazy! He became a drug smuggler and at one point was pushing shopping cart of pot down the street!

When the NPR piece is posted I'll put it up on here if I can because it's quite funny - and amazing - and shocking.

Amazon.com Review
"I find myself moving like a knife, carving my way around people, cutting myself out of their picture and leaving nothing of myself behind but a hole." A gaping hole of misery is what popular young adult author Jack Gantos remembers when he thinks back to 1972, "the bleakest year of my life." Just 20 years old, Gantos was in a medium security prison for his participation in a get-rich-quick drug scam. Scared silly by the violence he saw around him daily, Gantos's only lifeline was a battered copy of The Brothers Karamazov, which he painstakingly turned into an impromptu journal by scratching his own thoughts into the tiny spaces between the lines. There, he recorded both his fears and his dream of someday writing a book of his own. Before prison, Gantos had penned a scattered myriad of journals, but had never been able to pull them together into a cohesive narrative. It was during his time behind bars that he found himself growing into a focused, diligent writer who eschewed drugs for the bigger high of watching his words fill the hole once and for all.
Gantos, best known for his award-winning Joey Pigza titles, mines darker material here that is as deeply compelling as his lighter fare. Using short, meaty sentences, Gantos manages to write in a way that dismisses the dubious "romance" of prison, drugs, and "life on the edge" without ever sounding didactic or heavy-handed. Older teens will appreciate his candor and sheer willingness to give them the straight story. Vigorously recommended. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

This got me to thinking about my graphic novel memoir again. Several agents said if I did it I would ruin my reputation. There are a few parts that are kind of crazy - I get car jacked for instance (this really happened when I moved to NYC) and some other things. But I'm thinking of simplifying some of it and trying again. The point of my graphic novel is to show that you can go from nothing and keep trying until you accomplish your goals - in my case it was to get published.

So anyway, when I get to work on Sunday (the bookstore) I"m buying Gantos' book! I've got to read it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm going to play "If I could choose the Caldecott..."
I have not seen all that many picture books that came out this year so this is from my limited viewing... please keep that in mind! But I love Kadir Nelson. I think he's amazingly talented and deserves to win. Hands down.


"There's nothing quite like a real book."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The New York Times wrote an article about Nook (it's still odd not to write "the Nook") and where it's headed. It said "Barnes & Noble has acknowledged that the Nook has not been profitable, leaving investors anxious about the future costs tied to it, with the need to develop new software and hardware and to advertise the products. By one analyst’s estimate, Barnes & Noble spends $200 million to $250 million annually on its Nook operations." Every good product needs TIME to grow, but what this article indicates, is that the investors do not have the patience to wait. Hmmm. "Barnes & Noble’s stock has fallen 30 percent in the last 12 months. The company attributed the revision primarily to lower-than-expected sales of its black-and-white Nook devices, acknowledging that it had ordered too many of them."

"One possibility is that Barnes & Noble could sell part of the Nook business to the public and maintain a majority ownership stake. Mr. Lynch did not rule out the option of selling the Nook business entirely." Another of their ideas is to open up a separate boutique for Nook devices. That would be crazy in my opinion. For one, people who come into the stores to look for book products find themselves looking at Nook readers and vice versa. They'd be losing that synergy. Second, they spent a ton of money making those lovely Nook centers VERY RECENTLY! What a waste of money!

Badly managed? Bad plans? I think so. I think B&N is just staggering along and not thinking of a long term plan - having a map from day one if you will. And they should have. Think of Apple. They clearly were modeling Nook centers after Apple. Apple took years and years and years to get to where they are now! You can't give it two years and hope to make some bang huge profit. And what about the bookstore aspect? Do they abandon Nook and go back to selling books again like before? Half their stores look like toy stores and gift shops at this point. How does all of this get fixed? I'm worried.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012


I had this thought. What if someone could only win twice? Or three times? I'm talking about for the honors as well. That would allow new people to win the award and then everyone would be happy.

Please comment on this one if you have an opinion!

Friday, January 20, 2012


You know I love street art - this is very interesting... and... uh... the buffalo head... yeah.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I've noticed that Richard Scarry's animation has gone from a nice painted background look to all colored digital. YUCK.

This is what it used to look like:

This is what it looks like now (please excuse the non-english - it was a better resolution)

I think it's a real shame. Everything these days is DIGITAL DIGITAL DIGITAL. 3D!!!! YAY! Seriously? I watched Avatar like that and it gave me a headache. Those old Disney cartoons a great!

I could only find a remix to Alice in Wonderland, but it's pretty cool:

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I'm busy trying to get sketches done for a book. It's been a bad week for me because I found out I'm going to lose my health insurance in a few years from my part time job. It was really good health insurance and I really need it since I have a pre-existing condition. Now what? Freelancers Union, etc. doesn't offer anything good enough for what I need because of the medications I'm on. Eeek. Anyway, this is what a freelancer goes through. I wish congress would recognize that there are people out there like me who need options and aren't wealthy. What do I do? Quit being an author and go hunt for a full time job? Could I even get one in this economy? I'd have to say that I really wouldn't want to do that since I've put in 13 years (wow!) into this author thing. Sigh.

Anyway, here's a fun artsy video I found. This group seems to do all their videos to look like stop motion, even though I think they use other methods?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Someone asked about scary children's images. I immedietly thought of Red Riding Hood. The old images are the good ones....

Paul Gustave Dore 1832 - 1883 - French artist

Walter Crane 1845 - 1915 English artist

And here is a cartoon take on red riding hood called Red Hot Riding Hood, animated short, 1943:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


My roommate showed me a book he got the other day. It came from Amazon. It's a used copy by William Steig that's clearly from the library.

"It's in great condition. Why did the library not want this anymore?" I wondered.

The story starts out simple enough: Solomon can turn into a rusty nail at will . "And zingo! just like that, he became something hard and tiny." I really laughed at the, "Something hard and tiny." Great language.

An odd sort of story idea, yes, but I was willing to go with it. It gets tense when Solomon meets a very scary cat wielding a sharp dagger. Solomon turns into his rusty nail self so that the cat can't eat him....

This is when I thought to myself, "Hmm, this would NEVER get published today."

The story gets really odd. The cat kidnaps Solomon, AKA, "the rusty nail" and keeps him locked up.

Solomon refuses to turn back into himself because when he does he will be eaten. Only at night does he become his bunny self, when it's safe to attempt to escape the cage. The cat gets frustrated by the length of time Solomon remains in his rusty nail state, so he takes him out of the locked cage - in rusty nail form - and hammers him into a board in his house. There Solomon is trapped... forever?

The story is really ridiculous. There's also some sub plot about Solomon liking to catch butterflies... I would definitely edit it down because it's clearly all over the place, but it does have a sense of fun that I think a lot of books now are missing. Are children's books losing their playfulness because editors are playing it too safe? Or do books need to play it safe? Do children today need to be aware of the dangers rusty nails and cats wielding daggers?