People in the publishing industry work hard to get book covers right. They consider content, style, tone, theme. Twenty theories about what works exist; if you want to see them all, read the Guardian article that detailed them by googling “Scent of a Kitten.”
For it is theory #20 to which we turn our attention today: “Nothing draws a reader to a book like a picture of a fluffy kitten.”
Indeed. Nothing draws customers, either.
Meet Clyde Edgerton (that’s him with his nose in the air on the left) Amy Clark (below) and Silas House (getting a cuddle above). We were going to name the girl Anne River Siddons, but a friend is drafting an Appalachian memoir, and what the hey, the kitten looks like her.
We started naming our foster kittens after books because it was cute and funny–and then we found out that people adopted the li’l darlins faster with literary names. Something to do with them being born in a bookstore–the kittens, not the customers.
And that kitten cover theory thing works; these tiny fluffballs cast the glamor over everyone who sees them, including Jack and me. After a hard day of shelving and basement renovation and customer service, we sit upstairs for fifteen minutes while the fur babies climb all over our legs and stare into our faces and make little “mip” sounds that we think will be mews when they’re older.
We were away the weekend the kittens turned two (weeks) which is when they began to leave their soft cave of blankets draped over furniture to explore. Kittens handled for the first time will exhibit stress and fear, so we told our local shopsitter Wes, and Heather our cleaning lady who lives up the street, not to worry, just please feed mommy Tallulah and we’d take care of socializing the kittens when we got home.
Worry, ha! When we went upstairs to greet them on our return, the kids leaped from their cushioned basket (basket? we didn’t leave a basket and we certainly didn’t weave a satin ribbon ’round one) to clamber into our palms. “Start the elevator!” they all but shouted. “Finger ride; finger ride!”
Jack looked at me over the rim of his glasses as Clyde, the adventurer, attempted to climb into his ear. “I guess we know what went on here over the weekend,” he said. Turns out, between Heather and Wes, a steady stream of guests visited the cathouse. Tsk tsk. We’ll be shut down!
But we understand. Nothing soothes the soul quite like three cherubic kittens romping and frolicing. Lowers the blood pressure.
Clyde, Silas, Amy and their mama will be ready to go to their forever homes in about four weeks…..
Just one more reason we enjoy this website…
I read a book to my school kids with a kitten on the title page and it had the same effect…..awwwww! I’m not a cat person but your pics and descriptions made me want to go to the shelter and pick out a few kittens, LOL.
Both Jean and I love this–our cat is older than we can figure. When we were on the farm on the North Slope of the Roan Roller was a barn cat who moved up to the house when our house cat died! Now it must be getting old–it likes vanilla ice cream!
I love the sound of “forever homes”. This is a great thing you’re doing. I’m so pleased to have met such kind and caring people and it’s one more reason for me to enjoy your blog, too. Thank you Wendy, Jack and the Little Bookstore.
When our store-cat Biblio retired last year, it took some of the joy out of our bookstore–Acorn Bookshop in Columbus, Ohio. The customers (and staff, too) seem grumpier and buy fewer books. Could we be going out of business because of the lack of an expected cat?!
I’m retiring in ’14, so I’m hesitant to get another furball, as the store may close when I finish the last chapter of my 50-year bookselling career.
Loved your book: the fore-edge is a blizzard of post-its, marking places I want to return to, many are quotes to add to my collection of quotes on bookselling/booksellers/bookstores.
And your book certainly will be added to my annotated bibliography on the literature of American bookselling.
I’d love to visit some day.
George Cowmeadow Bauman
Acorn Bookshop, Inc.
1464 West Fifth Ave.
Columbus, OH 43212
We totally understand. People come to our shop specifically to meet Beulah.
(Great name, Biblio!)
Appropriately, Bib squawked his way into my study and jumped up on my chair for attention as we correspond. He got mouthy until I set the laptop aside, for he wants to be the laptop for a while.
I admire how often you post entries. That takes a lot of time and energy. I write what I call “bookstore-ies” (1-20 pages) about life around my bookshop, and I know how long it takes to get wording just so. (A few bookstore-ies available on our website.)
Since starting my second book I’ve had to cut back on blogs, that’s sure. Jack does one per week, and he may edge up to do more while I concentrate, because you are right, it is draining. Yet fun.
ValKyttie has ways of dealing with laptops as well.
Best to you and your shop!
An annotated bibliography of bookshop lit?! DUDE!!!! How cool would that be? I still think you should get a shop cat. Cats are easy once you retire; they travel better than people say, and they’re also content to be at home if you are traveling.
Not sure how our three cats would take to another one. Bib would be fine; he’s a mellow boy, yet he’s the Lion King, despite being 17 and with a much bigger and more aggressive Satchmo, who bosses little Lucy Liu but leaves Biblio alone for the most part.
I’ve been compiling the bibliography since the ’80s, and have several hundred entries in both nonfiction as well as fictional representation of us booksellers and our trade. It’s quite a labor of love. One wall of my study is my extensive collection of bibliopolic literature. Your book will go quite well with the others. You’ll be shelved between Wendy Werris’s “An Alphabetical Life” and Herbert Faulkner West’s “Notes from a Bookman”.
Will your next book be bookshop-focused?