By Judith Rosen Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly
Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass., affirmed its commitment to independent bookstores with the launch of a new marketing program aimed specifically at frontline indie booksellers, CHIRP. In a bit of double entendre, "CHIRP," short for Candlewick's Handselling Indie Recognition Program, also refers to a short, lively, high-pitched sound, the kind someone makes when they're excited about a book.
Late last week Candlewick sent out the first CHIRP white boxes to 265 independent accounts. Inside were copies of rep picks for the coming spring season along with bookmark-sized "handselling tip cards" with reviews and handselling ideas from other booksellers, including Carol Sokoloff of Prairie Lights in Iowa City and Judy Wheeler of Towne Center Books in Pleasanton, Calif. Also included were blank shelftalkers and booktalkers printed on card stock with the CHIRP logo.
"I was so exited to get the box. It feels so good to know Candlewick respects what we do for them," says Rebecca Fabian, children's department manager at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., who had already read and "loved" two CHIRP selections: The Agency and Finnikin of the Rock. Added Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD Books in Brooklyn, "It's really nice to see somebody reaching out to frontline booksellers."
Susan Richard, owner of Inklings Bookshop in Yakima, Wash., especially appreciated the care that went into the program. "I thought it was a cute name, and the packaging was nice," she says. "We don't get very many advance galleys for kids' books and to have finished books is good. Everyone who was on the floor when the box came was excited."
Director of field sales Elise Supovitz, who is spearheading CHIRP, emphasized that it is more of a bookseller-inspired program than a typical publisher push program. "Given that as much as 70% of sales in the kids' section of indie stores comes from handselling," she says, "we decided to create a program that speaks directly to this core strength of independent booksellers."
In addition to the seasonal CHIRP box, Candlewick will add a dedicated [Web site], http://www.candlewickchirp.com/ next week. Booksellers who signup for the CHIRP e-newsletter will be entered into a drawing for a paid trip to ABA's 2011 Winter Institute. CHIRP stores can earn special discounts and dating for rep picks and to additional co-op dollars. That should give indies even more to chirp about.