Between the Covers, Behind the Counter wrap up

In a joyful return to in person events, the Between the Covers, Behind the Counter Children’s Bookselling & Publishing seminar was held on the 14th September 2022.

Presenting to a full (COVID safe) room in Sydney was keynote speaker Megan Daley. The entire program was streamed to attendees online, as well as people in Brisbane and Melbourne attending satellite events at the Avid Reader bookshop and office of the Australian Booksellers Association respectively.

The event covered plenty of ground, with a brief summary below.

Books in a Crisis

Author and teacher librarian Megan Daley started the day with her session Reading in the Dark: Books in a Crisis and stressed the need to normalise books that address the ‘hard topics’ as a regular part of a library/bookshop/publishers offering. That ‘age appropriate, carefully chosen literature read with an adult’ can provide children with books that provide ‘Windows, Mirrors and Sliding Doors’ into different life experiences but that the best books to address these topics always end with room for hope:

‘The truth is that life is full of love and devastation… and hope.’

Cross-industry information sharing

Throughout the day, booksellers and publishers were invited to answer the tough questions and share the differences in their experiences and the ways to better integrate the business of children’s books, from publishing to selling. There was also the opportunity to hear from the library sector and these panellists provided vital information on how to reach out and assist this community that works closely with the industry. 

BookTok insights

Attendees were also shown the latest statistics and figures for Children’s and YA Publishing by Bianca Whiteley from Nielsen BookScan. Providing some interesting results on the phenomenon that is BookTok, Whiteley showed that 83% of titles on TikTok are backlisted titles and that 20% of all book buying Aussies are on TikTok. 

Events and Covid

Nat Amoore and Amelia Lush provided some valuable insights into ‘Events: What works, what doesn't, how to get a crowd and dealing with Covid’ and discussed the importance of having a broad understanding of 'Why are you doing it? Who is it for? What is Success?' before starting to plan. They also stressed the importance of knowing your author, their strengths and preferences, guiding them through the process if they’re new to presenting to children, providing tips in advance and sharing feedback post events.

Reading for Joy

In a fitting end to the day, the session ‘Reading for Joy’ saw Megan Daley take to the stage once again and ask the panellists what brings them joy to read, and what advice they could give to adults who want to help children experience the same love of books and stories told – ‘let everyone make their own choice’.