Today, I'm sharing my interview with Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop which is an awesome indie bookstore in Houston. Even though I don't live there anymore, Blue Willow will always be the first bookstore I ever visited. As I've gotten older, morning American Girl events turned into evening author talks and attending Teen Book Con, which they put together every year. I'll link all of the posts I've written about events at the store below. I hope you enjoy the look into a different area of that touches the YA books.
1) Local bookstores are amazing places. What are your favorite features of the store or unique things that only indies can offer?
I think indies offer opinions and service. We are all readers so if you want some help deciding what to read next, that's what you will get when you come in the shop. We are not judgmental about what you read. We want to help expand your horizons.
2) How did Blue Willow begin? What was the inspiration for starting an independent book store?
In 1995 we moved back to Houston (where I grew up). We moved into Nottingham Forest, and I remembered the little bookshop on the corner. I went to work for the previous owner. Within a few months she offered to sell the shop to me. In October of 1996 we opened as Blue Willow Bookshop. I grew up working in retail (my parents owned a little grocery store in Westbury). I love selling, and I love reading. It's a perfect match!
3) You’re very involved with the YA community as a whole and in Houston as you help put together Teen Book Con every year. Has YA always been a big part of the store, or is it a more recent priority?
YA is actually a relatively new category of books. When I was a teen it definitely did not exist. When I first started the shop it was very small. With the surge in interest (think Harry Potter and Twilight), there is a clear interest in books with teen protagonists.
4) I’ve always dreamed of working in a bookstore, like many of my readers. Are there any tips for landing a job? Is there any part of working at the store that the usual shopper wouldn’t expect?
I like the opportunity to offer teens their first job experience. It was something my father did at his store. The tips are: Apply with interest, and don't bring your mom or friends when you do come in. I'm not sure if everyone knows but there is very little reading going on while working. There is a lot of talking and a lot of box toting.
5) You get an early look at books coming up. Which YA books are you are most excited for that have yet to come out? Any new release favorites?
We are very lucky to get to read forthcoming books. Two that I'm excited about are The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White and Hey Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka .
More From Blue Willow...
Author Event Katharine McGee: About Here
Author Event Lauren Oliver: About Here
My Adventures at Teen Book Con: Review Here
Other Into YA Interviews: Here
Links of Interest:
Imagine Us Happy: Review Here
Broken Things: Broken Things
A Very Large Expanse of Sea: Review Here
One Of Us Is Lying: Review Here