Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Children's Bookstores

Cyndia Zwahlen has written an interesting article about a small renaissance in the children's bookshop industry for the Los Angeles Times. (The bookstores mentioned are all in Orange County.)

Here are some things that keep a children's bookstore in business according the the owners interviewed:

  • Toys, toys, toys. Placing dragon toys with dragon books, etc. I agree that this makes sense as a business plan, but as a parent I don't like it.
  • For one bookstore owner, removing the YA section worked. I have to agree that this makes sense to me. Teens like to go to the mall and to the big box bookstores. And, they don't want to be in place with "children's books." I've noticed, over the years, that the big box stores have also moved the teen section outside the children's section. Teens don't want to shop with the dragons and Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • Welcoming environment and well-educated booksellers. Yes, yes, yes!

Do you have a favorite children's bookstore? When I lived in Los Angeles, I had two favorites: The Borders on Westwood Blvd. had a wonderful children's section--large, with benches and playtables, and, even, a large open section where there were readings and performances. They got rid of all the extras about seven years ago and we no longer go there. I also love the Duttons on San Vicente (best books, best booksellers), but the children's section is so crowded, it's better to shop without the children there.