Book Ordering Crunch – Spy Skills

It is crunch time for ordering books with only $ 2, 463 left to go. Yes I know, I know…oh to have such issues in the season of report card due dates.  I am not complaining, I once was a classroom teacher with less grey and a fuller head of hair. Compared to last year when I opened up a brand new library, this feels like a drop in the bucket. However as the money gets lower and lower, I have to be more picky as I strive to balance out the needs, with the wants and the good old fun when it comes to books. This isn’t exactly going to be like Sophie’s Choice but there can be moments.

This afternoon I made a point of swinging by an independent local bookstore I haven’t been to in a while. Just to make sure after breathing through school library journal, visiting my favorite blogs, and my two favorite local bookstores, that I wasn’t missing anything. I was also buying birthday presents for two elementary school age nephews. It is sort of unwritten rule that librarians are required to buy books as gifts for nephews especially if one of them does not like to read – shocking but true.

My parking karma was flowing, got a rare spot right out front of the store. I walked in and was greeted with a smile and noticed that they were setting up for an author event for the novel The Death of Willie Lincoln.  In this fictional account was he shot like his father? so much for a calm and quiet space. The store is small, so when they put on an event, it pretty much takes over the store. This was not the ideal set up for what I REALLY wanted to do. In addition to buying a couple of gifts, I wanted to discretely take photos of book covers of titles that intrigued me. When undertaking moments like this I have to call forth my inner spy skills, so no one can see what I am doing.  Once home I checkout the reviews and determine if the book is something I want to order. Tip #1 – you do not want to draw attention to yourself. Turn down the volume on the phone, so the clicking sound with each shot is quieter than normal. Tip #2 – strive to keep your back to the people around you. Tip #3 – if that is not possible, hold and angle the phone as you would when reading a text message.

Yes I feel a tinge of catholic guilt doing this, but I am willing to work through it. I do make a point of buying books after stealing photos of covers. If you share any of my slight angst over my actions, feel free to buy a copy of The Death of Willie Lincoln. I think it is only fitting my purchases included a copy of Bad Guys Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey for my non-reading nephew. It looks amazing, the reviews are good, and I think it he might actually read it.




  1. What a fun post! I have about as much left to spend for my library as you do; thanks for the reminder to make sure I place my last book order this week.


  2. I love meeting you as a writer! Your story is funny and suspenseful and even informative! Plus, I feel so lucky that you are my school librarian!! I don’t think I realized how much time you spend making usre we have just the right books.


  3. Great humor throughout! I enjoyed reading your spy tips and connected with you when you stated you were responsible for buying books – even for a nephew who does not like to read. I, too, have been given those instructions concerning a great niece and great nephew (Maddie loves to read, but Jack would rather not). I think you are probably a wonderful school librarian – we need school librarians! Thanks for sharing and for spending so much time and giving so much effort for finding the right books for the readers at your school (and for the kids who could be readers if the right book(s) is placed in their hands!).


  4. I’ll have to work on my spy skills. Snapping cover photos seemed like an excellent strategy for planning future book purchases, until a store clerk pointed out I couldn’t do that. Why can’t you take pictures of book covers, exactly?


  5. I miss helping you order books! One of my favorite school-based sub activities, much better than recess duty.
    I always snap photos of books when I’m in stores. I can’t say I always go to such lengths to be discreet though… Oops!


  6. Your spy skills are amazing and the tips are of the highest quality. Buying the best loved books is an important job and I’m so glad to see you take it seriously! Best of luck spending the rest of that book money …


  7. I, too, enjoy book ordering for students. I love your insight, “It is sort of unwritten rule that librarians are required to buy books as gifts for nephews.” I am guessing that nephews are not the only ones who receive books from you.


  8. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t be taking pictures of book covers! That’s what 80% of the photos on my phone are of! Though I do feel a bit shyer about it in a smaller store.


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