Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Kidsbooks

The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.

Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For July, we are featuring Kidsbooks in Vancouver, BC. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

1. Tell us a little bit about the history of Kidsbooks
Kidsbooks started in 1983 by Phyllis who was a children’s librarian during the previous ten years.   In 1990 Kelly came on staff, and became a partner of the business in 2000.   In 1994 we opened a second store in North Vancouver and in 2007 a third location in South Surrey.  We love connecting kids and books and have built strong partnerships with many educational and library organizations over the years.

2. What made you want to open a bookstore?
I wanted to continue working with children’s books and children, but in a more independent and more direct way than was possible in the public library.

3. What do you like best about your career in books?
Many things!  I love meeting the authors and seeing the effect they have on children who love to hear what their favourite authors have to say about their books and about life in general.  I love discovering a wonderful book that I can put into customers’ hands assuring them that they will also love the book – and when they come back to thank us for sharing a great book with them, it is a most gratifying feeling!

4. What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?
I think they don’t appreciate the amount of hard work and multi-tasking that is involved in running a business and especially one that requires such a huge amount of product knowledge.

5. What is the hardest part about being a bookstore owner in 2012?
The negative vibes that emanate from the media etc that books on paper are doomed.   It doesn’t seem to be the case at all, not from what we see!

6. What types of books does your store stock and/or specialize in?
Our specialty is children’s books – included however are books for parents, and not just books about parenting, but books that adults will want to read for their own pleasure.

7. What are some of your favorite titles?
I love Rumer Godden’s The Story of Holly and Ivy, illustrated by Barbara Cooney – such a classic, and books by Andrew Noriss.  Also, Alice Schertle’s Little Blue Truck and Sandra Boynton’s delightful board books.   But it is very hard to select just a few!!   Titles coming out this year?  I am looking forward to the new Andrew Clements  About Average, Lemony Snicket’s unauthorized autobiography, Mo Willems’ Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and a gorgeous picture biography of Gutenberg called From the Good Mountain.

8. What are you reading right now?
Aside from a whole bunch of advance reading copies (ARCs), I am reading something I found while perusing the adult catalogues: a wonderful novel called Sex and Stravinsky  by South African author Barbara Trapido.  That’s the fun of it: trying out something that I discover by chance!

9. What is your most current best seller?
Right now it’s Pete the Cat and Rick Riordan’s Serpent’s Shadow.
Dr Seuss, Maurice Sendak, and The Gruffalo.

10. What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?
Lemony Snicket’s first appearance, I mean Daniel Handler; Ally Carter; Mo Willems; Kenneth Oppel and Scott Westerfeld.  But really they have all been magical because of the wonderful audiences that come out to hear the authors’ experiences.

11. Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories ? 
Wild but totally true: Kidsbooks was the first store in Canada to sell Harry Potter, one season before anyone else!   And Raincoast was able to capitalize on Bloomsbury’s oversight in not selling rights in Canada, thanks to our early enthusiasm for the series!

12. What book are you, or will you, hand-sell with a vengeance?
The paperback edition of Walls Within Walls – a great novel set in Manhattan.

13. Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?
The world of children’s literature is thriving and from what I see kids are reading like crazy!   There is magic in books and kids know it.