As an author and bookseller, Janis Herbert has been on both sides of the book buyer's desk. Today, she offers a peek into her world of books.
JEN: First, it was such a pleasure to meet you at the Writers Bloc on August 6th, and for this follow-up interview. Let's get started right away - What is a recent new seller at Face in A Book that you are excited about?
Janis: Thank you so much for having me at the library! It was lovely to meet you, too, and to get to know you. To answer your first question, I’m eager to read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for its combination of American history and interesting plot twist. I’m also hoping to get to the wonderful Annie Proulx’s Barkskins and the new book by Jonis Agee, The Bones of Paradise.
In nonfiction, I’ve got Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution is on the top of my to-read pile.
JEN: Ooh, those are going on my list too. I'm looking forward to seeing them next time I visit your store. That brings me to my next question - Who makes the decision about which books are sold at Face In A Book and what factors go into that decision?
Janis: My boss meets with publisher representatives and carefully selects the books. She not only chooses books that will be obvious big-sellers, but also those that are interesting and different and will offer something that will delight our customers when they browse in the store. I read a lot of reviews and help her by providing lists of books that are getting a good buzz in the world.
I advise particularly in the history section, which is my area of interest, and keep track of books that are new in paperback. I choose the books for our local author section, so any self-published local authors hoping to get their book on our shelves are sent to me.
We look at what our customers are buying and listen to what they want. If we get more than one special order for a title that we don’t carry, we take a look to see if it’s something we should have on the shelves. We have software that measures the turnover in a section, and that helps us determine whether we are making good decisions in each area.
JEN: What are you seeing a lot of on the bookshelves? What’s ‘hot’ and ‘trending’?
Janis: The self-publishing trend has grown exponentially in the last few years, though that’s reflected more online than in bookstores. Fan fiction has become stronger in both adult and YA fiction. Sci-fi/Fantasy is definitely a growing category. The biggest boom in the last year – coloring books for adults.
JEN: What do you wish you saw more of on the bookshelves?
Janis: High-level books for middle readers. We get a lot of parents and kids looking for books with high lexile numbers, required in school for kids who test with a high reading level. It’s hard to find new books with high lexile numbers and not every child wants to read the older books like Little Women and Swiss Family Robinson.
JEN: I can totally relate. It's hard finding age-appropriate books for my own high level readers. One more question - you mentioned self-published authors are sent to you for the local author section. Does that mean Face In A Book carries self-published books?
Janis: Yes, we have a local author section in which we feature self-published books by writers who live in El Dorado Hills and nearby towns. Because we have a lot of writers in the area, we rotate this section quarterly so we can give more authors an opportunity. Though we really want to be as supportive as possible, we don’t accept all books. We try to choose those that will appeal to our customers and will have a real chance at sales. We love our local authors and want to support their efforts!
JEN: Fantastic! Thank you again for doing this interview.
Janis: And thank you for inviting me! I hope we cross paths again.
About Janis Herbert
Author of six acclaimed children's books, Janis Herbert has worked in bookstores, libraries, offices, restaurants, in grade schools, and on college campuses. When she's not 'playing matchmaker between customers and new books' at Face in a Book, Janis enjoys camping, hiking, birdwatching, attending Civil War reenactments, and, most of all, reading. She grew up on the south side of Chicago and now lives in Northern California with her husband and cat. Learn more about Janis at her website.
About Face In A Book
Tucked into Town Square just off Highway 50 in Eldorado Hills, Face In A Book is a must-visit for any avid reader. No matter your interests, Face In A Book is sure to carry a book you'll fall in love with... and come back for more! Check out their many events at their website and "Get Your Face in a Book" today.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)