Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books."~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  I was just talking with a friend of mine regarding her son's apprehension surrounding the new, exciting, and intimidating experiences awaiting his first day of middle school .  I was comforted to find that I am not the only forty-something who still suffers nightmares of forgetting my locker combination or being lost in the school hallway unable to find my classroom.

Afterwords Books celebrated back to school time with some appropriately themed books during last Saturday's story time.  The kids loved Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, the misadventures of David in David Goes To School by David Shannon, and they met Pete the Cat rocking out in his new red school shoes in Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat:  Rocking in My School Shoes.  Each child happily took home a MELISSA & DOUG Learning Mat and a package of crayons.

We continue our love affair with MELISSA & DOUG and are currently running two promotions.  We still have lots of great puppets and are offering a buy one puppet and choose a second puppet or any other MELISSA & DOUG item of your choice at 50% off!  Additionally, we received 20 boxes courtesy of our kind UPS driver packed full of great MELISSA & DOUG art supplies this past week.  Let me take a moment to tell all of you just how much I enjoy putting together the various displays you find in our store.  The tiny little plastic bags bulging with various size screws, washers, and nuts are enough to send me into a panic attack, but the new display looks great and you should most definitely stop by to marvel at my skills with a Phillips screwdriver.  We have copious amounts of crayons, paint brushes, poster paint, water color paint sets, finger paints, rainbow stamp pads, quality construction, drawing, finger painting, origami, and easel paper, chalk, erasers, colored pencils, markers,  scissors, glue sticks, dry erase markers, smocks, and more! Buy two art supply items of your choice and receive a third for FREE while supplies last.

Thank you to one of our loyal customers, Doug Tull, for his suggestion of a New Arrivals section for our regular customers to peruse.  Now when you visit the store and inquire, "Did you get anything new this week?" you will be thrilled to find that we have showcased all books that were brought in for Trade for Credit during that past week and we will continue to rotate this stock accordingly.  You do know about our Trade for Credit policy, right??  We offer our customers 20% of the list price of gently owned books in store credit that can be applied toward the purchase of used products throughout the store.  You can read more about our policy here.

Finally, NPR recently surveyed it's readers to generate a Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books compilation and I'm happy to report that one of my all time favorite books, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, made it to the list.  The top ten titles inspired us to pull from our shelves and prominently display these great reads in our window, right above the sidewalk bins overflowing with over 100 FREE titles.  We're often incredulously asked, "Are these really free?"   Yes, they are really free.  

As we say our bittersweet farewell to summer in a few more weeks and welcome the crunchy leaves of Autumn, we wish happy back-to-school memories to one and all.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why Afterwords Isn't Celebrating Borders Demise

The announcement that the Edwardsville Borders store would be closing along with others nationwide, left both Afterwords and the community dismayed.   Several customers have deemed the closing of Borders a golden opportunity for our cozy little bookstore to profit above and beyond.  I suppose if we were in this business to make loads of money we might share that line of thinking.

When I was given the opportunity to purchase Afterwords Bookstore, I did so because I have had a life-long love affair with books and owning this tiny bookstore is a dream come true.  As a hopeless romantic I didn't give much thought to how much money I would make, however, I did have to curb my enthusiasm long enough to consider if Afterwords was indeed a viable business venture.  I wanted to assure our investors that yes, we would sell enough books to pay the rent, utilities,  insurance and the like.  I took Rebekah Shelton's model,  creating an inviting atmosphere and welcoming customers to browse without pressure to buy- to grab a cup of coffee nearby and settle into a comfy chair and stay a while, and ran with it.  We, like all successful independent bookstores, understand that we have to offer our customers more than just books and we strive to be an active and important part of the community.  We serve as a gathering place, a Saturday morning tradition--we are our customer's store.

Never, at any point of deliberation, did I consider Borders as direct competition to Afterwords as our inventory is predominantly used books and the loyal client base that I was fortunate enough to inherit continues to  visit our store for a decidedly different experience than that of Borders.  A more intimate experience if you will, one where the staff of our store recognizes our customers as our neighbors first and foremost and goes the extra mile by building a relationship with each customer, making note of their favorite authors or titles that they have their heart set on owning.  There's nothing like the genuine appreciation that comes from someone who recognizes that we will do everything in our power to go above and beyond.  Our trade for credit program continues to be quite successful with upwards of 300 titles coming in our doors any given week.  Loyal customers have always been willing to wait the few extra days required for us to order and receive new titles.  Picking up that new book at Borders or Amazon, for that matter, just did not occur to them.  Those customers celebrate what Afterwords means to their community and offer their support accordingly.   We are very grateful for that consideration!

As the new owner of Afterwords, I often have to pinch myself- to remind myself that this is my job.  We are having a blast getting to know each one of you and hope that the little extra touches, complimentary treats, free goodies, one of a kind gifts, loads of giveaway books, Saturday story hour, and pretty gift wrapping free of charge, begin to express how appreciative we are to have such a wonderful and diverse clientele.

There has been much discussion as to why Borders has been forced to close, leaving some 10,000 people without jobs.  The consensus seems to be that Amazon and the development of the Kindle and the Nook ultimately destroyed Borders.  I will go on record, once again, as saying that I believe there are enough hopeless romantics like myself, true aficionados, who will continue to desire the experience that comes with browsing a bookstore, discussing books with other book lovers, curling up with and getting lost in a great book with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, the feel, scent, experience of reading a book.

I really enjoyed this article and would encourage you to read it and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Made in the Shade and Taking the Wheel

We trust that all had a safe and happy 4th of July celebration.  For many of us, summer promises or holds fond memories of road trips full of fun and adventure, which inspired last week's promotions and Saturday's story time fare.

We're making sure all our customers have it made in the shade by offering FREE sunglasses with any purchase between now and then end of July (or at least until supplies last!).  We're also currently running a promotion on our super fun MELISSA & DOUG puppets, purchase one puppet and receive a second MELISSA & DOUG item at 50% off!  We have some really great boredom buster MELISSA & DOUG items that promise to subdue the incessant "are we there yet" inquiries.  Perfect for travel, free of little pieces that tend to get lost in the backseat sea of juice boxes and pretzels, we have stocked Hangman, Magnetic Games,  Picture Makers, and Play Sets as well as some packing friendly and fun classic card games.

Saturday's story time featured the always funny Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, poor pigeon dreams of driving the bus but the bus driver has asked that we please don't let the pigeon take the wheel, no matter what.  We also shared a super fun picture book by Leo Timmers, Who is Driving?.  The kids loved the super bright and fun illustrations of various animals dressed in ways that suggested what vehicle they might be driving and guessing who would be revealed on the next page behind the wheel.  We also read about the silly misadventures of Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and finished up with a rousing rendition of Wheels on the Bus by Raffi.  Special thanks to Gabby (and to the parents for not fleeing the store) for once again drowning out my less than impressive yodeling with her magnificent guitar playing and to Puck for his awesome sound effects and leading the children to use their hands to swish swish swish the wipers and beep beep beep the horn.  Haven't visited our story time yet?  Please join us on Saturdays at 11am!

As always, special thanks to our customers who keep our shelves stocked with all the great books they bring in to trade for credit.  We offer 20% of the original list price of the book for store credit and consider most books with the exception of romance, textbooks, self-help and parenting.  Need a quick pick me up after returning to the salt mines following this long holiday weekend?  We've still got hundreds of FREE titles that are keeping our sidewalk bins replenished, a cart full of .25 paperbacks and .50 hardcovers, and Tuesday and Thursday promises a freshly baked and complimentary treat!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Party Hats, Glowing Endorsements, and Boxes and Boxes of Books!

A special thank you to Mike Nichols of Nichols Photography for capturing this shot of Truman taking a break from working on one of the many Melissa & Doug puzzles we offer at Afterwords Books and to Victoria Nichols for her glowing endorsement of our store!  We are all blushing, even Truman.

This last week seemed to just fly by as we continue to busy ourselves with updating our inventory with the boxes, bags, and tubs of books that our customers steadily bring to us and unpacking the new (and sought after) titles that arrive via Federal Express.  We received some favorite book club titles including A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Kaleigh just finished reading Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home, which she loved and has passed on to Gabby.  I loved The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and am a third of the way through The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  Jordan says book two of the Series of Unfortunate Events, The Reptile Room, by Lemony Snicket is one of the best books she's ever read.  What are you reading?  Customers are always coming in and asking for recommendations, so don't be shy, please share your favorite reads!  Feel free to leave a comment here on our blog or message us on Facebook.

I was thrilled to read one of my all time favorite books during Saturday's storytime, Go, Dog.  Go! by P.D. Eastman.  We were all inspired to design our own party hats that no dog could resist!  A special thanks to all the parents who braved the sea of craft supplies-colorful pompoms, pipe cleaners, glue sticks, a rainbow of feathers, felt letters, and a fun assortment of stickers- and assisted with the creation and clean up of the fancy chapeaus.  We also read Muddy Paws and the Birthday Party by Deborah Chancellor, about an absolutely adorable puppy discovering the joys of a party for his best friend and Mo Willems' I Am Invited to a Party! where Piggie is schooled by Elephant on all things party related.

The coming week promises freshly baked treats on Tuesday and Thursday, a replenished sidewalk cart full of .25 paperbacks and .50 hardcovers, more titles marked down to 90% off the original list price, and, as always, more free books as we continue to weed out our overstock.  Come on in and say hello and be sure to visit us on Facebook for updates!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Perfectly Polite & Pirate Puppets

This past Friday, UPS delivered many many boxes to Afterwords courtesy of Melissa & Doug.  It was just like Christmas as we tore open the packaging to reveal our new arrivals, super-fun and awesome hand puppets!  Just in time for Saturday's storytime, all the wee ones had a blast putting on their own mini puppet shows, and, yes, miss lulu might have also tried out Rory the Lion puppet and Smoulder the Dragon.

Storytime was a hit once again as miss lulu donned her goofy cowgirl hat and read Dusty Locks and The Three Bears by Susan Lowell, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, and The Three Little Horrid Little Pigs by Liz Pichon. The guests giggled at Dusty Lock's bad manners and the funny way-out-west accent assumed by miss lulu, seemed to identify with Little Red Chicken as she tried really, really hard to be less involved while Papa read her a bedtime story, and were surprised to find a friendly, and really quite lovely, wolf who taught three rude little pigs how to be kind and considerate.

Once again, our customers brought in some awesome titles to stock our shelves.  Authors like Chuck Palahniuk, Barbara Kingsolver, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, and C.S. Lewis. By request, we also stocked up on some new titles as well, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard, the Fablehaven series (books 1-5) by Brandon Mull, and some favorites from children's authors Sandra Boynton, David Shannon and Babette Cole.

Looks like we can expect a week of gorgeous weather!  If you're out and about downtown, please stop in and peruse our shelves.  As we sort through inventory, we will continue to offer hundreds of free titles, we have over 100 titles marked at 90% off the original list price, and even marked some of our Melissa & Doug merchandise at half off to make room for the new arrivals.  Oh, and be sure to check our Facebook page for more deals, Saturday's storytime line-up,  and surprises in the week ahead.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Many Thanks!

    Truman's favorite new addition-his super comfy red leather chair.

Thanks so much for all the oohs and ahhs surrounding our renovation and the warm welcome we received upon our hiatus.  Our first week back was great!!

 Highlights include welcoming our loyal customers back home and meeting some new friends as well.  Saturday's story time proved to be a huge success complete with an acoustic (and probably way too long) version of Old MacDonald and adorable farm animal hand puppets.  We read Old MacDonald Had a Farm (kids loved as they were able to play a game of peek-a-boo and guess which animal would be revealed on each page), Funny Farm by Mark Teague (wonderful illustrations!), Fifteen Animals! by Sandra Boynton (super fun to read and who knew that Bob was such a popular name for pets?), and Duck on a Bike by David Shannon, (the clear favorite with great illustrations and a laugh-out-loud surprise ending).

A special thanks goes out to our customers that brought in LOTS of books this past week, many of which are wonderful and promptly made their way to our shelves and are awaiting good homes while the remaining, (copies we are currently overstocked or are well-loved) were graciously donated which means we have tons of free books!  Though we want to continue to encourage everyone to bring us books (we LOVE books!!), we are running out of room to store the free books we give away each week and so we are unable to accept text books, romance, self-help, parenting, and health at this time.  As always, an appointment is not necessary  to bring in books for consideration but we do ask that you stop by any time after 1:00 to assure we can give you prompt attention.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sneak Peek!

We've been hard at work making your bookstore even better!  Looking forward to seeing everyone at our grand re-opening on Wednesday, June 1st.