I spent yesterday at the Chicago Public Library listening to librarians from both CPL and the Chicago Public Schools “Book Talk” the books CPL selected as their “Best of the Best” of books published in 2010.
I loved every minute, but you might ask why someone from a publishing house would want to spend seven hours hearing about books from other publishers. Well, the obvious answer — studying the competition — is very true. However, it’s also very true that I’m a book addict from way back, so I’d probably want to be there regardless of my job.
They divide the day into six sections — the final one being a presentation by an author or illustrator on the list. This year it was the inimitable Jon Scieszka — who I worked with when he was first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and I was marketing director for the Children’s Book Council. I did manage a quick hug and hello after his talk before letting the librarians have their time with him.
For the other five sessions, each person chooses from seven possible sessions: Picture Books, NatureConnections, Poetry and Folk and Fairy Tales, Nonfiction, Fiction for Young Readers (7-11), Fiction for Older Readers (12-14), and Teen Volume (High School) Fiction.
Since I had read half of the Fiction for Older Readers titles, I skipped that. Then I chose Nonfiction over NatureConnections because Nonfiction was presented by Andrew Medlar from CPL. Andrew is an amazing presenter (and librarian), so I didn’t want to miss that (I overheard other people making a similar choice).
In addition to hearing about the books, you also get a chance to see a lot of different “book talk” styles. As I mentioned to my table at lunch, in publishing we don’t call these book talks, we call them sales presentations! Of course, technique was much the same, so I did learn a few new things about presentation style.
The Best of the Best is an annual event that CPL has been doing for years. It’s intended for both public and school librarians. There are people there from all over the area. I’d like to thank CPL for allowing me (not a librarian) to sneak in. It was great fun.