Linden Tree Books in Los Altos, California, is celebrating it's fortieth anniversary this year, and co-owner Dianne Edmonds shares what excites her about the fall season and books to watch out for during back to school shopping.
What sets Linden Tree apart from other bookstores?
First of all, our history. Our store started forty years ago as Linden Tree Childrens Books and Music here in Los Altos. We have had only two ownership changes. Six years ago, we re-branded with the emphasis being “Where imaginations Grow”. By dropping the word children's from our store name, we can emphasize the notion that any person of any age can let their imaginations grow. Obviously after forty years, we have incredibly strong ties to the community, with second generation customers coming in and telling stories of trips to Linden Tree. Second, we are always bringing in new and interesting inventory. We vet every title presented to us from publishing reps and carefully review front list titles. We meticulously manage the number of inventory turns within the year of all titles. If customers continue to buy specific titles on a regular basis, we will carry the book. If the metrics fall below our minimum, even if it's near and dear to our heart, we have to let it go. Our customers dictate what they want, we listen to those purchasing habits and respond according. So what people love stays, and new things to love come in all the time! Third, the comfort of our store. The color and space is welcoming and inviting. We have lots of windows to bring in natural light and breezes; comfortable chairs for adults and children to sit together and read or flip through a book. The layout of the store transitions from one section to the next with bright orange signage. Our displays capture thematic topics and seasonal happenings. Last, and most important, our phenomenal staff. Linden Tree Books has a forty-year reputation of hiring booksellers that are sincerely interested in reading, knowing what books are available and understanding the needs of each individual customer. Staff members talk to each other, share ideas and respect the induvial literary knowledge and tastes of each other. This then translate to treating each customer as a reader and not type casting. All of this can only be learned by a staff who like people and like spending time talking about books.
Why is September an important month for booksellers?
For our store, September 1st is the kick off to the holiday season. By holiday, I mean: Halloween, Back to School Reading, Fall, Thanksgiving, Jewish Holidays, Christmas, Winter, and everything in between. In fact, Halloween books are already being purchased. In addition, we have multiple events and author visits to coincide with all the fall releases. To name just a few, we have Jennifer Nielsen promoting Horizon, Patricia Polacco with Remembering Vera, Sharon Cameron and The Knowing. We also several Parent Education evenings as the bookseller for local school districts and their Parent Ed nights. Our local town hosts many events, from a fall festival, a downtown trick-or-treating, and a holiday stroll. It a very fun and busy time for Linden Tree.
What in your opinion makes a bestselling book?
The majority of all our selling, whether it’s a book or sideline is by handselling. We have been described as “Literary Matchmakers” and our customers have come to expect this and we enjoy the trust they place in us to guide their purchases. Often, a bestselling book can be something timely or just have an awesome hook and decent writing. The idea has to be fresh and fun, and of course well-executed. But that's just the start. People have to love it on every step of its journey before it can become a bestseller. The author, the editor, the marketing team, the publishing house as a whole, and then the booksellers. But even if a publishing house doesn't anticipate a book being a bestseller, sometimes booksellers will find it, love it, and share it, and a bestseller will be born. A bestselling book can spark the imagination in new ways. A new way of seeing things, a different perspective on an existing condition. Genres are based on restrictions of setting, but bestsellers usually transcend type to touch something deeper in all of us.
How is Linden Tree involved in the community?
Basically, we ARE the community. We are the common meeting spot, the go-to for gifts, the happy place for kids, and the safety net for parents. We have tremendous outreach and partnership with local schools (pre-school to high school, private and public), public libraries, private foundations, literary groups and non-profits with a reading component. We are a venue host for many organizations showcasing their talents or mission. We donate regularly to fundraisers and each year we make a sizeable actual book donation (20+ boxes of books) to a local non-profit summer camp program that helps families from disadvantages areas.
Personal Book recommendation?
Our latest staff pick is Lemons by Melissa Savage. It deftly blends together funny, clever moments of friendship against a very child-friendly understanding of grief. It's about finding out where you belong, and making a new place for yourself.
Kat Brzozowski is an editor at Swoon Reads/Feiwel & Friends. She has edited a wide range of young adult fiction, including Anna-Marie McLemore's When the Moon was Ours, which received a Stonewall Honor and was longlisted for a National Book Award, and new Fear Street books in R.L. Stine’s best-selling series, which has sold over eighty million copies worldwide. Kat is looking to acquire young adult fiction across a wide range of genres, especially contemporary, realistic YA with a strong hook; dark, contemporary fiction, mysteries, suspense and thrillers; and sci-fi and fantasy that’s mostly rooted in this world. She is especially interested in YA with crossover appeal and diverse characters.
What is Swoon Reads?
Swoon Reads is a publishing imprint within the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Writers – both agented and unagented! – can submit their YA novel of any genre to our site, SwoonReads.com, where fellow writers and readers rate, review, and comment on their manuscript.
How do you select the books you publish?
Three times a year, we read the manuscripts that readers love the most and choose which ones to publish in hardcover. Our books are published the same as any Macmillan book, with a full staff, including an editor, marketer, publicist, and more working to produce a great book.
From the moment a manuscript is submitted to the day when the book hits the shelves, our Swoon Readers are involved in every step of the process, including helping us come up with the perfect title, voting on their favorite cover directions, and contributing blurbs to the back of the book. By the time our books come out, we have a built- fan base of readers, many of whom loved the book before it was even selected! We love finding new voices, untold stories, and fresh perspectives.
Since there are so many submissions, what does it take to catch your eye and make you say, “this is the one!”?
One great thing about Swoon Reads is that the books we publish aren't just chosen because I love them; they're also chosen because our Swoon Reads community, as well as the great team of readers we have in-house from various departments, love them. Because we have so many readers, both in-house and on our site, there are a lot of chances for us to fall in love with a new book. Personally, I am drawn in by a strong sense of voice first. I want a character that comes alive and who I want to read about for many pages. I also love multi-dimensional characters that are flawed and complex, just like real people, realistic dialogue, and manuscripts that keep the plot moving forward at a steady clip.
What’s on your wish list?
We're eager to publish more diverse authors and books about diverse characters. I'm always looking for something in the vein of "Veronica Mars," one of my favorite shows, or something like "Minority Report" that shows our world in the near future with one big (but realistic) modification. We have a group of editors at Swoon Reads who love books of all genres, so whether you write sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historical, or contemporary YA, we hope you'll submit to Swoon Reads!
Submit on SwoonReads.com