Fall Handselling Challenge picks: Geoffrey Jennings & Rainy Day Books

After the completion of our Independents Week Contest, Geoffrey told me that he had some other ideas in mind for the fall. Here's Geoffrey's invitation to indie booksellers to take part in our contest for this fall - the Fall Handselling Challenge.  It will be both a test of handselling prowess and a fund-raising opportunity for the winning bookstore's charity of choice.

I've known Geoffrey for many years, as a bookseller, a dinner companion, a good friend to talk to about the business of books. He's part of the core bookselling team at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, KS.

You can follow the progress of the Fall Handselling Challenge here at my3books, and on Twitter. Use the hashtag #RDBFHC to keep on top of the latest news.

Independent booksellers take books and become individual champions for them. Customer by customer, book by book, we build a sales record for the author. We personally match books to customers in face-to-face transactions. Unlike Wall Street, the media, and our online competitors, we are working in our communities every day to build more than just a stronger local economy: we are building relationship capital. This is the currency of our realm. When you build trust by selling something transformative, you make your community stronger.

Independent booksellers sell specific books and authors because we realize that there is a real human being behind the work. In fact, there's an entire chain of people that more of us should take the time to know personally. There's an author, an editor, a publicist, a publisher. Many of us stop at the sales rep, and many reps have so many titles now that they are truly dependent on independent booksellers to help them spread the word about what is good, why it's good, and how it can be great. We can do more, and I challenge you to do so.

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Homer's Odyssey
by Gwen Cooper
Delacorte Press | 9780385343855 | $20 | Aug 2009
Caitlin Alexander at Random House is the editor. I've never met either author or editor as of this writing. I don't know who's handling publicity.

Homer's Odyssey is a book about a remarkable cat, told by a remarkable woman. Unlike many books it will be favorably and appropriately compared to, the author bio will tell you that this has a happy ending. It has parts that make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Homer's Odyssey is part spectacle, part case study in overcoming adversity. At a time when the world and our customers are demanding reassurance and hope, this book delivers. It is the type of book where people will return to tell me how much they loved it, some will buy it for friends.

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Moonlight In Odessa: A Novel
by Janet Skeslien Charles
Bloomsbury Publishing | 9781596916722 | $25 | Sept 2009
Sara Mercurio is handling publicity. I've never met either the author or publicist as of this writing. I don't know who the editor is.

Moonlight In Odessa is a love story. It's about the yearning we all have for something meaningful in our lives. A bright and beautiful engineer named Daria narrates her tale of struggle in modern Ukraine. Unable to find a job in her field she works as a secretary, dodging the overt advances of her boss while she searches for a way out. In her off-hours, Daria assists at an international matchmaker, helping far more desperate women meet equally desperate Western men. Eventually, rivals appear for Daria and she must choose. Leave her country behind? Follow her heart? How do you know what the right thing is until you do it?

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The Pig Did It
by Joseph Caldwell
Delphinum Books | 978188328534 | $13.99 | April 2009
I've never met the author. I don't know who the editor or publicist is.

The Pig Did It is a cozy Irish mystery featuring the inadvertent services of a porcine investigator. When I first read this in hardcover I had hoped there would be more in this charming series. To my delight, I just received word that there will be more.

For fans of procedural mystery who want something funny, check this out. Life in County Kerry, Ireland is just what you'd expect, or not. When a body is discovered by the (random?) diggings of a wandering pig, the hunt is on. All the while you're reading this whodunit filled with great characters and snappy dialogue you'll be asking yourself what everyone else in town is: what's the pig have to do with it?

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Now the bigger question: why THESE three books? What they all have in common is that they all need someone to champion them. Someone to give them a helping hand, to build an audience, to push them to a tipping point where an army of satisfied readers will start spreading the word on their own. Along the way, I'll meet the people behind these books. Depending on how I do it, I might also meet other people who do what I do well: handsell books.

All of this was inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, coming in January from Harper. Learn more at www.happiness-project.com.