June 12, 2020: Phase 1 Is Underway
by Lexi Beach, owner
New York City moved into Phase 1 of COVID reopening this week. What does that mean for your friendly neighborhood booksellers? Truthfully, not much is changing from the past couple of weeks. This is NOT a return to normal. There is still a pandemic going on. We still need to keep measures in place to protect our at-risk family and neighbors. And so, here's the latest from us:
We continue to require customers to schedule their pickups.
After you place an order through our website, once we've confirmed that your books are available, we'll send you a link to schedule a time to come by. We are currently offering appointments Tuesday through Saturday. We have been VERY busy the last couple of weeks (thank you!) so the time slots are often booked out a couple days in advance. We know it's a bummer to have to wait to pick up your books when they're RIGHT THERE IN THE STORE but these precautions are recommended practices to minimize risk exposure for both you and our small team.
It is also a question of our own operational logistics. With limited staff on site, it is challenging to get through the day's work, and having a schedule of which customers we can expect makes the work a little bit easier.
If you need assistance scheduling an appointment for yourself, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone can book a time on your behalf.
Curbside pickup has moved inside!
When you arrive for your appointment, you may come into the Bookshop as long as you are wearing a mask. (If someone else is inside, please wait until they leave -- having just one person at a time helps us keep track of your orders.) Your books will be sitting on a table just inside the door, labeled with your name. Please help yourself to hand sanitizer and please DO NOT TOUCH anyone else's books. If you need a bookseller to bring your books outside because you don't have a mask or you have children with you who cannot remain outside, please knock on the door & someone will be with you.
Another change, also for reasons of public health:
ALL SALES ARE FINAL while COVID-19 continuesOnce merchandise leaves the premises, we will not be able to accept returns or exchanges, except in the case of misprints, defects, or if we (oops!) gave you the wrong book. This change is temporary, but necessary, as we do not currently have the capacity to disinfect returned books for resale.
If you find an issue with your book once you get home, please email us at email@example.com so we may remedy the situation. (Real examples: 16 pages in the middle of the book are missing; the pages inside the book are upside down with respect to the book cover; the first half of the book is all the odd numbered pages and the second half is all the even numbered ones.)
What's going on with the books you ordered to be mailed to you?
We are working hard to catch up on our backlog of mail order! We were closed for 6 weeks entirely, and a LOT of orders came in during that time (thank you!) and many more since then. Phase 1 guidelines still limit the number of booksellers who can be on site at a time, limiting the pace at which we can fulfill orders.
For that reason:
TEMPORARY PAUSE ON MAIL ORDERSStarting tomorrow, 6/13, shipping will not be an option for new orders placed through our website until we catch up on the orders already in the queue. We hope this will only take a week or two! If you need some books shipped to you before then, please avail yourself of our Bookshop.org storefront, where 30% of your purchase comes directly to us.
We recognize that the shipping option is important. Not everyone is able to come to the store in person, whether due to the risk of COVID-19 or any number of other reasons. We will resume offering shipping once we're in a position to do so in a timely fashion.
When will we be restocked on How to Be an Antiracist, Me and White Supremacy, Stamped, The New Jim Crow, et al.?
The short and generally true answer: as soon as possible!
The longer and more honest one: These books (and many others) are out of stock with our publishing partners. They are reprinting them as quickly as possible, but (a) there are a limited number of US-based printers and every publisher is negotiating to use them, (b) it takes time to get new printings from binderies into warehouses and then out to stores, and (c) each step of this distribution chain is currently operating with necessary safety protocols to minimize risk to their workers.
That said, many of these titles are available for immediate download as ebooks or digital audiobooks, through our My Must Reads storefront and our Libro.fm storefront.
June 8, 2020: DIVERSITY IN YOUR BOOK COLLECTION
by Gina Verdi, Children & Family Events Specialist
As some of you know, I am a mom in a multi-racial family, but I'm still the white person in my family. My voice is not the one that needs to be heard right now and I can always do more listening. Instead, I should be the person who amplifies Black voices.
This is why I compiled a list of questions that can help you, the reader, make sure your book selections in the future include Black voices. I've asked these questions for many years and updated them this month with input from other local parents. As an educator and a life-long learner, I felt the need to do more than suggest a few book titles to my neighborhood. I needed to make sure I help all of us keep up good reading habits and support Black voices for years to come.
Today, I give much-needed focus to Black Lives Matter, which is why we include the specific titles at the end of this post. These suggestions should be used as starting points and are by no means a complete list of suggested reading. (There are many wonderful titles coming out in the Fall of 2020 that we hope to share with you.) In addition, many of the questions on this list can be adapted to create a diverse collection of books that include gender, ability, ethnic, and racial diversity. Do your bookshelves reflect the diversity we see every day in Queens?
1) Picture books can give you positive images of people who don’t look like you. Are you looking for anti-racist books, history books, and books that simply show diversity in playmates?
April 9, 2020: Astoria Community Update
Astoria Bookshop Staff
The Governor has extended the order for non-essential businesses to remain closed until at least April 29th, so we continue to be work-from-home booksellers. We love keeping up with you on social media, and we're so grateful for all the orders you've been placing through our website. Read on for news of what we've been up to and how you can continue to keep in touch and support us until we're able to resume regular operations!
Select Author Events and Book Clubs will be moving online in the coming weeks. Our Feminerdy Book Club is leading the way, having already hosted one meeting on their Facebook page, and will be reading Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor on Sunday, April 19th at 1pm. Please check out their Facebook page for more information!
Virtual Feminist Book Club: SUCH A FUN AGE (Saturday April 11th, 1:00PM - 2:00PM)
Astoria Feminist Book Club will have a virtual session on April 11 at 1:00pm, when we'll discuss Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. In order to participate, please email the group leader, Jen, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be sent an email invitation to join the Zoom meeting. Participation will be limited to 12--if more than 12 people want to participate, we will add a second session later in the afternoon. This will ensure the meeting can be managed securely and that everyone can get a chance to participate. Hope to "see" you then!
Virtual Event: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan and Cheryl Tan on STARLING DAYS (Friday April 17th, 12:00PM - 1:00PM)
Our previously canceled event for Starling Days with author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan and Cheryl Tan is now going to be on Instagram Live! Stop on by our Instagram account on April 17th at 12pm, we will be hosting both in conversation and Rowan's latest novel.
NEW WAYS TO SUPPORT OUR STORE:
We have joined the Bookshop.org family! Our very small team are working from home, to ensure the health and safety of our staff. That means we cannot fill your orders personally for the time being. Luckily, our storefront on Bookshop.org is open for business!
If you just need books RIGHT NOW this is the best way to get them and still support us. Pretty much any book (and a lot of jigsaw puzzles!) you can get from us, you can get through that storefront.
But once we're back in regular operations mode, we want you to come back to us--and the single best way to help us reopen is still to order directly from our website. Please keep purchasing gift cards and preordering books for later this year!
Debbie Millman, writer, artist, and host of Design Matters, has created an exclusive, limited edition design for us! You can purchase totebags and t-shirts from Merch Aid, and 100% of proceeds come to us. We are so grateful to R/GA for this initiative, and to Debbie for her gorgeous design (which features a quotation from her partner, Bookshop favorite Roxane Gay!).
PARENTS OF YOUNG READERS!
Gina, our Children & Family Events Specialist, does a weekly virtual story time on Instagram!
Come watch Gina read live on Thursdays. Then check out this Google calendar for other virtual resources for kiddos, and lists of the books she's been reading each week, with at-home activities to accompany each title.
March 25, 2020: On Pause
Lexi Beach, owner
Dear Friends of the Astoria Bookshop,
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor's order to shut all non-essential businesses, we are on pause with the rest of New York right now. Our priorities are (1) to keep our staff & community safe, (2) to keep paying our staff, and (3) to stay connected with you, our wonderful customers.
What does this mean?
We believe that the best course of action to keep our community safe is for as many people as possible to stay home. Our crew is small, and the majority of us have loved ones considered high-risk for the virus. We also want to be sensitive to the workload of USPS mail carriers and UPS drivers (shout-out to our guys, Joey and Reggie!) whose time and effort is better put towards delivering food, medical supplies, and other essential items.
But are you still taking online orders?
Yes! -- with some limitations, including an uncertain timeline of fulfillment. Prepaid orders function, always, as a short term loan to the Bookshop, and that cash flow is what's going to keep us in a position to reopen with our entire staff healthy & ready to get back to work. We are grateful to all of you who have asked that we hold your orders placed through our website that we cannot fill at this time.
If you want to purchase a gift card for later use, or preorder some of the many exciting books that are coming out later this year (new Elena Ferrante! Adventure Zone book 3! New Akwaeke Emezi! Harrow the Ninth! Becoming Duchess Goldblatt!) we would love that so very much.
A note about ordering on our website: When you check out, you'll have the option of paying with PayPal or a credit card. While we are off-site, PayPal is the most seamless payment method; credit-card payments temporarily require an additional invoicing step (specifics will be communicated to you after we receive your order). Thank you for your patience with this short-term set-up!
What about books that I've already ordered?
At this time, we don't have an estimate of when we will be able to get your books to you, or let you back in the store. We're watching the news every day, and getting updates from the City, and we truly can't wait to resume business as usual.
But I really need a distraction from everything right now, and my kid does too! Can you help us out?
We can! Many publishers and eBook providers are making digital materials available online, including children's books and educational material for remote learning; these links will be collected regularly here on our blog.
Audiobooks can be purchased from Libro.fm for the same cost as an Audible membership, but a share of each sale goes to your favorite indie bookstore! Details, including a special promo code for new members, are on our Libro.fm storefront.
Online Storytime is an exciting new addition to our weekly calendar. Tune in on Instagram Live, Thursday mornings at 11am. Gina will be reading picture books to anyone who wants to join (Instagram or Facebook login required). She'll be selecting slightly longer books than we usually read on Thursday mornings, so we hope that older siblings of our usual toddler audience will enjoy it too!
Select Author Events and Book Clubs will be moving online in the coming weeks. Our Feminerdy Book Club is leading the way, having already hosted one meeting on their Facebook page. As soon as these plans solidify, links will be made available. Please stay tuned!
Great! Can I do anything else to help you?
Yes! You can help us by doing what you do best: being a wonderful community and staying connected to your neighbors. Help other people get excited for our return by rating us on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. You can follow us on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, for book recommendations and more. You can tag us on your own social media accounts (@astoriabookshop) when you talk about the books you're excited about. We'd love to keep in touch virtually even while we can't see your gorgeous faces!
We're hard at work at home, and we miss you and the store so much.
Until next time, be well (and be well-read!),
The Astoria Bookshop
March 18, 2020: Two Reading Lists for Enforced Solidarity and Social Distancing
Dana Harju, Bookseller
Hello readers! I’m Dana, a bookseller at the lovely Astoria Bookshop. As a lifelong reader and longtime bookseller, it’s only natural for me to turn to books in times of crisis, now especially that some are working from home, some are tackling the arduous task of applying for unemployment, but all are under social distancing guidelines.
The comfort and beauty of a physical book aside, what they contain holds so much potential for us. An escape, a solution, a place to rest, a place to make connections, and so much more--books can be our companions and our guides. In this spirit I want to craft two reading lists for our global moment of deep uncertainty. One list is to escape, and one is to deepen your engagement with the situation.
If you’re feeling more calm at the moment, maybe you have a stable work from home situation, are lucky enough to be financially secure, or are just a bit of a masochist, this list is one that explores the deeper concepts at play for us right now.
The next list is for those who need to get away from it all while staying inside. Sometimes the best thing a book can be for you is a serious comfort and distraction, a way to pass hours without even realizing. In that spirit I’ll share some books I’ve stayed up too late for, missed my train stop for, and cancelled plans for.
February 29, 2020: Book Pairings Across the Ages
Gina Verdi, Children & Family Event Specialist
If you visit The Astoria Bookshop, you probably know that everyone on staff loves different genres of literature. I, of course, love picture books and middle grade novels but rely on our booksellers to recommend adult level reading to me. During a recent conversation, I said, "My daughter loves the Zoey & Sassafras series and I am enjoying Lab Girl. What a great pair!" And the next thing I knew, I started a list of Kid Lit (for preschool - middle school) and Adult Titles pairings based on several our staff favorites. Many of the links below have commentary from our staff, so I won't rewrite them here.
As always, if you need ideas for your own customized pairing, you can email me at email@example.com.
1) Immigrant Daughter from local author Catherine Kapphahan pairs with Alma and How She Got Her Name and Last Stop on Market Street. The focus of this trio of books is on the grandmother/grandchild relationships.
2)We have another trio with Lab Girl and the early elementary school level Nuts About Science (series)and Zoey & Sassafras (series). You'll want to turn your kitchen table into a mini-laboratory after you read these books!
3) Starless Sea and Pages & Co. are books about books and it just doesn't get much better than that.
4) This Land is Our Land (from local author Suketa Mehta), Where Are You From? (Available in Spanish, too.), and My Name is Yoon are three incredible, and much-needed, stories on immigration.
5) Red, White & Royal Blue pairs with When Penny Met POTUS. Both of these stories are incredibly charming. You can probably guess what element of Red, White... I chose to use for this pairing based on the picture book's title.
6) Educated pairs with Calling All Minds, an activity book geared for ages 8-12. This duo reminds us all that every individual has a different journey through education. Plus, I'm guessing your younger reader won't mind sharing the activity book with you.
Happy Reading, Everyone!
January 24, 2020: Out of the Bookshop and Into the Schools
Gina Verdi, Children & Family Events Specialist
Happy New Year, Astoria! We hope your 2020 is off to a superb literary start. And while you may have given some thought to your reading selections this month, have you considered hosting a Book Fair Fundraiser?
Top Five* Reasons to Bring Us to Schools and Educational Organizations for Book Fair Fundraisers:
*Reason #6: The photos below show the real reasons to hold a Book Fair Fundraiser. Books bring us together, give us life-long memories, and help us understand our world a bit better.
(All photos used with permission.)
Thursday, December 5th, 2019: Astoria Bookshop's Holiday Gift Guide 2019
By Christian Vega, Events Coordinator, and Astoria Bookshop staff
The holidays are upon us! And you may be wondering: What shall I give to my friends and family and loved ones and work acquaintances?
Look no further! We have you covered from the office White Elephant gift exchange, to the family holiday gathering. From each of us here on the Astoria Bookshop team, we're suggesting our favorites, both new and old!
Books are always great gifts, but sometimes a book is more than just a book--it's an art object, a piece of decor, a collector's item.
Books for Little Kids
Finding the right book for the youngest readers in your life can be tricky. We can help.
Books for Older Kids
Older kids can be even tougher to buy books for! These are some of our favorites (also totally acceptable gifts for adults).
Food Lovers Gifts
Everyone knows Queens has the best food of the five boroughs. These are our foodie gift suggestions.
Ok, yes, sometimes you are looking for a BOOK as a gift, to be read, chapter by chapter, dog-eared if that's your thing, passed along to a like-minded friend. We have MANY recommendations along these lines (take a look at our Staff Picks page!) but here are some modern classics and other recent faves you might want to share with the readers in your life.
There are so many reasons to love Astoria, and Queens, and New York City. Whether it's local history, locally made crafts, or just a reminder of what a community can build together, we love all these gifts.
Ahem, many book lovers ALSO love movies and television and music.
Not A Book
These things are not books at all, but we love them.
Also: don't miss our book-themed candles ($16.95 - $24.00), only available in store! Kelly's pick for the season is called Christmas at the Cratchits, from North Ave Candles.
Need something small to round out a package, something for an office gift exchange, or just something that's inexpensive without being cheap? Look no further.
And be sure to come browse the store for more options, like our book-themed soap from Macbath ($8.00) and a wide variety of notebooks and journals of all shapes & sizes (pair of Rifle Rosa pocket notebooks here, $12.00).
November 10, 2019: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week
One hundred years! Children's Book Week is 100 years old. When I had the idea of writing reviews of some Kid Lit in honor of the week, I wasn't very excited. I already write shelftalkers and reviews for The Astoria Bookshop website. But then, I thought about the wise words of LeVar Burton: "Don't take my word for it!" I asked the Little Humans of Queens to write, draw, and video their reviews of favorite books. I am incredibly proud of the work my Book Reviewers did! We hope that you find your next favorite story based on these reviews.
The very first book review I received is about Let's Go For a Drive (Willems) from Keilani, age 4 ½, as dictated to her parent.
"This book is funny and silly. I like the characters because they're funny. And when Elephant says, "Get those umbrellas! Get those bags!" And Piggie gets them. I like when they have so much stuff."
Madeleine, age 5, dictated her review of Can I Play Too? (Willems) to her mother and then added a drawing.
"Elephant and Piggie meet Worm. He says "Can I play too?" Piggie and Elephant say "I don't know." And then they find a way to play together. And then they throw the worm that says "Can I play too." I like when they find a way how to play together. It is a silly book because it goes "bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk!" And that is why it is so silly."
I interviewed Silvia, age 8, about the book Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella (Burnell, Anderson). I asked, “Why do you like this book?” Silvia gave me her top five reasons.
1. Harper finds good mysteries in this book (and in the following stories about her).
2. Harper shows people her musical gift. My favorite illustration on pg. 105 shows this.
3. I like the way the author writes about magic because it feels like you’re in the story with Harper.
4. I like the pets, Midnight and Smoke, when they’re silly.5. My favorite part of the story is how the man makes the cat orchestra.
Author Cerrie Burnell even responded to this review on Twitter.
Our final review was submitted by Esme, age 6 1/2. She sent a video about The Creepy Case Files of Margo Magoo (Weing). You can view Esme's video on our YouTube Channel.
October 28, 2019: The Literary Costumes of Astoria
By Gina Verdi, Children & Family Events Specialist
Astoria, you never disappoint. I sent out a call for photos of literature-inspired costumes. Next thing I knew, my email inbox became a joyful gallery. I'm sharing the submissions below, with permission.
However, I do know that it is difficult to find fictional picture book characters that are both not white and easily recognizable. Diversity in picture books has been a hot topic for years, especially in our borough. Queens, with its multitudes of languages and multi-racial families, deserves stories that represent the 2.3 million people that call this corner of the city home.
Therefore, I have a short list of books that may help your family pick a fictional character costume this week or in the future. (Many thanks to our Events Coordinator and YA Expert, Christian, who made sure that I included our favorite Tooth Fairy of 2019.) And if you or your child is wearing a literary costume of any sort this year, please let me know or stop by The Astoria Bookshop on Halloween!
October 19, 2019: Waddle, Waddle, Waddle: A Superbly Cute List of Penguin Literature
Last Spring, I heard myself say, "Yes. I do know my penguin literature." Really? I mean, sure, I DO know my penguin literature. But who has conversations revolving around books on flightless birds? I do; the person who spends a crazy amount of time reading picture books and loving every second.
When I say Penguin Literature, I'm not talking about Pittsburgh hockey team stats or National Geographic readers or modern classics of fiction. Nope. I'm talking about the books of Antoinette Portis, Molly Idle, and Jessie Sima, with a few quick cameos from other talented authors and illustrators. And while this is certainly not an all-encompassing list, it's a superbly cute list. So whether you're a fan of the fairy penguin or the Emperor, you may just discover your new favorite piece of penguin literature today.
Antoinette Portis penned my favorite penguin book, A Penguin Story. If you've been to any of my story times, you know that I have an obsession with end pages. Portis makes her end pages an integral part of Edna's story and I was positively giddy when I realized what this author/illustrator had done. But we cannot ignore our main character, Edna. Edna is a most brilliant penguin thinker and explorer. And in between those end pages in the book, Edna finds out if there really IS something else in her world besides black, white, and blue.
The majority of our bookshop patrons and I are adoring fans of Jessie Sima's work. Harriet Gets Carried Away is no exception. Harriet, a wise Little Human of New York, considers her penguin outfit her "...extra-special errand-running costume." We should all have this type attire in our closets. Harriet's costume and our subway system carry her into a world of penguins. Real penguins? Imaginary penguins? It doesn't matter. Harriet's enthusiasm for adventure is palpable as she gets a little help from her (penguin) friends. Plus...gold stars to everyone who can find our favorite narwhal in this book.
“But Gina!” you say, “I have dancers in my home. Is there a penguin book for them?” Why yes there is! This is when we pick up Molly Idle’s Flora and the Penguin and settle down for a cozy one-on-one story time. Now, Flora is actually dancing on ice in this particular installment of her adventures. This chilly setting gives you the perfect excuse to snuggle up with some blankets while you read. And like all of the Flora series, this is a wordless book. The first time you visit with Flora, you may simply flip the flaps in the book. Next, you might narrate Flora’s story and then dance along with her. There is no wrong way to enjoy this story so let your child live in the moment and see where this particular penguin adventure takes you.
Before we wrap up our waddle through penguin literature, I absolutely must give a quick shout out to Salina Yoon’s Penguin series and to Parnell & Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three. Yoon has the perfect penguin picture book for the autumn with Penguin and Pumpkin. And Parnell & Richardson story documents the three local chinstrap penguins that proved once again that families come in all forms.
Do you have a favorite piece of penguin literature too? Let me know!
*Want to become someone who understands Penguin Patience? Check out The Emperor's Egg (Jenkins, Chapman).
August 17, 2019: Bookstore Romance Day!
Welcome to the Bookshop Blog! This space will be updated on a very irregular schedule!
We are excited to celebrate the first Bookstore Romance Day. From the organizers' website:
Romance is a genre that centers women's desires, agency, and relationships, and we think that's pretty cool. The steamy sex scenes are a bonus--especially when the authors use them to show just how hot enthusiastic consent can be.