Q&A: Stephanie Valdez, co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books
What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
I’m not sure it’s a trend yet, but I hope that there are more novels about art or the art world, such as Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, (2014) Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, (2013) Rachel Kushner’s The Flame Throwers (2013) or small press favorite The Missing Years of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal (2013).
The surprise best-seller I Want My Hat Back (2011) by Jon Klasson has proven that there continues to be a market for dark, strange picture books for children. This year, I expect to see more picture books in dark colors, and I hope they will be equally delightful for kids and adults.
I also suspect that plenty of books about Russia and the Ukraine will be rushed to print this fall.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Personally, I’m always on the lookout for an unusual literary novel by a woman in Latin America or novels about underrepresented corners of the globe.
Last year, we sent everyone on vacation with Where’d You Go Bernadette? (2013) by Maria Semple, and we’re on the hunt for this year’s go-to summer read.
In the children’s section, educators and parents are still scrambling to find high-quality books that fit Common Core standards. We’re especially looking for narrative nonfiction for kids 5 to 8, especially with original topics rather than content adapted from adult books.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’m sure we’ve all had our share of Gone Girl rip-offs and novelizations about the wives of famous writers.
It isn’t a topic, but I hope to never see an uncoated, white dust jacket again. Damaged books are a shame and a waste.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Ezra, my co-owner, and I sell books to the general public, but our public happens to be a community of writers, editors, agents, publishers, publicists and critics. It can be a difficult task to surprise and delight this bookish crowd, but we continue to try.
One of the unique things about our business is that we recently expanded into the used/rare/vintage market. I tend to look at books now with an eye to posterity, which means that I’m searching for ideas that will linger in a physical object that will last on my shelves.
Stephanie Valdez is the co-owner of Community Bookstore in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and Terrace Books in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Before following her Luddite ways to bookselling, she was a co-founder of SpeakSake, a Web startup, and worked in finance. She was born in Mexico City.