Monday, May 30, 2016

COSCBWI Meeting May 2016

The COSCBWI meeting for May featured guest speaker Sally Oddi.  Sally is the owner of Cover to Cover, the only independent children's bookstore in Columbus.  With over 20,000 titles in stock, the store has been connecting children and books since 1980.  Sally is also very encouraging of local writers and loves to support the community with book launch parties and other author events.  She took some time from her busy schedule to talk to the COSCBWI members about the state of the market and what it's like to be an independent bookstore in a world full of "big box" stores.

Sally began her talk by happily exclaiming that physical books are NOT dead!  In fact, her experience has proven that they are alive and well, and kids and teens frequently tell her that they prefer reading a book with pages rather than anything on an e-reader device.  The ever-changing technological world keeps her on her toes, though, especially with competitors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  As an independent store, Sally said that she enjoys working on a personal level with customers and promoting the books she feels strongly about.  Her biggest challenge comes with snagging author appearances.  She explained that this is a much more difficult process than it was in the past, especially as the big publishing houses merge and restructure their priorities.  Nowadays, publishers are more interested in how many books will sell at an event rather than getting exposure for an author.  It's a tough line to walk, but Sally said she tries her very best to bring great programming to her customers and community.

Sally also talked about many interesting trends she has noticed in the publishing market.  Some of these include:

-The resurgence of longer, more literary picture books in the market instead of only 300-500 word stories.

-The popularity of non-fiction books on unique topics, like The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller.  She noted that with so many titles published on Thomas Jefferson and other common subjects, it's a breath of fresh air to see these books on new, unusual topics.  And kids love them!

-The popularity of board books, especially for baby showers in lieu of cards.  On that same note, Sally said that she thinks there are some holes in this market and would love to see new early-concept books (like the seasons, feelings, etc.) instead of popular and classic stories just being condensed to a smaller format.

-The boom of middle grade series and lack of stand-alone titles.  She said that more and more, middle grade books seem to be stretched out unnecessarily just so they can be packaged in a trilogy or longer series.  (Sometimes at the expense of quantity over quality.)  Sally said that she adores strong, stand-alone books, though, and hopes the market will come back to publishing more of these in the near future.

-The growth of books that fit with Common Core Standards.  Sally explained that many teachers come into her store looking for new books for their curriculum, so if your book happens to align with Common Core Standards, it can only benefit you.

-The continued increase of self-published titles.  Sally noted that if you're planning to self-publish your book, be sure to do your research on distributors and wholesalers.  (She recommended becoming familiar with Ingram and Baker & Taylor distributors.)  Doing so will give you access to more stores and ultimately a bigger market of potential customers.  She said that you can't hope to sell your book if stores can't buy it for their shelves.

Sally finished the chat by reminding the COSCBWI members to keep reading and pursuing publication.  There's a child somewhere in the world who needs the book you are writing.

A big thank you to Sally for sharing her knowledge!  You can find out more information about Cover to Cover at  (It's a wonderful store--I highly recommend stopping by!)

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the group website at  I hope to see you at the next meeting!

Note: Cover to Cover image is from

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