Happy birthday to #IndieThursday which turns two years old today! In honor of this special day, we're back with another #IndieThursday feature. This week, we're chatting with Emily Grossenbacher, children's bookseller at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi.
Give us a virtual tour—what do we see when we first walk in? Is there a certain section that jumps out at us?
The first things I see when I enter OZ, our kid's section, is the floor to ceiling red bookcases. They line every wall in OZ and are filled with books that lead the eye to the vaulted circus tent of a ceiling. Yes, the ceiling really looks like a circus tent, red and white stripes and all. OZ holds books for kids, baby to teen, and really feels like you are stepping into someone's exotic library. I am personally biased, but I must say I feel very at home back there.
How do you match a child or a parent with a book? What questions do you ask?
The first question I usually ask a parent is what kind of book they want. There are those who want classics, and then there are those that want books that are unique, maybe something they wouldn't find on their own.
As for kids, it differs between the non readers and the voracious readers. For the non-readers, I ask what their favorite things in life are. I have gotten answers such as kittens and trucks, to dirt bike racing and cheerleading. I try to think about these types of answers when I am buying for the store. As for the readers, I ask them what the last book they loved was and I try to get them to answer fast. I have found that kids usually have two different kinds of answers for this question: what they think adults want for an answer, and what they really think. I want the latter. Even if it is Wimpy Kid.
What are your favorite titles to hand sell right now?
Right now, I am loving Steam Train, Dream Train and Raven Boys.
Does your bookstore coordinate school visits with authors? Or do you work with local teachers and librarians in some other way?
We do! We have really revamped our relationship with schools in the last five years. We take almost every kid's author who comes to the store to a school and we offer great discounts and resources to teachers and librarians. This is one of my favorite parts of my job. I love helping the right people reach the right kids. We all have the same goal: to get kids reading.
Why are children’s books an integral part of your store?
Community is an integral part of our store and kids are a huge part of our community. Not to mention that OZ creates future adult customers. Our store has been around for 37 years; long enough for me to know for a fact that if you create a reader young, they will stay a reader as they grow. We have so many adult customers who started their relationship with Lemuria as children.
Why are independent bookstores so important to the future of reading and literacy?
I thought about this one a lot, for while it is something that I believe to be true, it's hard to put into words why. Independent bookstores are unique from online sellers in that they are in the community, working and living with their customers and creating a reading conversation in their community. I think, at least in our community, that our presence is a large factor in what keeps that conversation going and binds the readers in our community.
Find Lemuria Bookstore:
202 Banner Hall 4465 I-55 North, Jackson, Mississippi 39206
Contact Information (general phone/email): firstname.lastname@example.org