Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Get Gardening!

I'm sorry to say that this will be one of my shorter posts, as I'm about to head off to TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) for one of their twice-yearly trade shows — but more about that in a later post.

No, what I've been thinking about lately is gardening; not ME gardening, because at home I'm known as "The Killer" for my ability to look at a plant and send it to its undeserved death. I'm thinking about our Get Gardening promotion, which is in full swing right now. Get Gardening is a cross-imprint initiative designed to get readers into gardening and gardeners into independent bookstores. To me it seems like pure genius. As a lover of both books and reading and as the daughter-in-law of an independent-bookstore owner, I feel the pain of the indie store trying to get a new audience into the store and retain the customers of previous eras who may be swayed by the not-insubstantial charms of the chain bookstores or the convenience of ordering online. I've gone that way, too. But attention must be paid to the independent stores, who persevere through credit holds, nonattendance at readings and signings, and the encroaching big-box stores all around them, sucking consumers in with come-hither sales and promotions.

Get Gardening is a masterful way to combat the summer doldrums at the bookstore by bringing in a learned voice (that is, a gardening author), and in some cases partnering with a garden center, seed store, or nursery, to bring that author's words to colorful life. Get Gardening started in Portland, Oregon, with our sister publisher, Timber Press. Powell's Bookstore, the master of Oregon booksellers, hosted events with gardening authors last year, and Timber created some lovely artwork to use in their posters and promotional marketing pieces. This year, Storey, Timber, Workman, and Algonquin have partnered to bring this great idea to stores from California (Chaucer's Books in Santa Barbara) to Vermont (Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center) and everywhere in between (BookPeople in Austin, Texas). The range of talent involved is simply amazing . . . from Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants and Flower Confidential from Algonquin, to Scott Calhoun, author of Storey's Designer Plant Combinations, to Timber Press's Debra Lee Baldwin, author of Designing with Succulents — very popular in those arid Texas plains!

I feel strongly that the success of this initiative is directly tied into the continuing popularity of the independent bookstore. Even though some are struggling to pay the bills every month, the owners and event coordinators are still looking for ingenious ways to create buzz, move books, and enlighten the readers who frequent their businesses. We all owe it to ourselves to make at least one trip a month (or more!) to an independent bookstore in our area, strike up a conversation with a bookseller, and bring home a book. Buy a book that gets you thinking about designing a garden with continuously blooming flowers, even if you don't plant any. Buy a book that describes the plants that can kill you, for the vicarious thrill of it. Buy a book that shows you how a cactus can thrive on once-a-month watering. Just buy a book.

You can find the entire Get Gardening schedule here:

— Amy Greeman, Storey Publicity Director

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