Today’s post was directly solicited by me from a librarian I met on Twitter--
Vantine takes displays very seriously and she enjoys horror, so I persuaded her to share some of her horror related display expertise with everyone. What follows is not only a good post for 31 Days of Horror, but also it is just darn good advice for displays all year long.
Take this quote from below as proof-- "Mix up titles, regardless of genre, and let your patrons find books that they would otherwise miss. “ Yes!
Thanks to her for sharing her expertise.
Click here to see more from Vantine on Twitter and read the entire post below.
In October, we all set up displays of horror books for Halloween. The rest of the year these titles sit alone and unloved, waiting for October to come around again. This is a misuse of the opportunity that book displays present which is to passively help patrons find books they will love that they might not have discovered on their own. By narrowly focusing your display on the genre, you allow some patrons to walk on by because they don’t think they read horror (or science fiction or romance, etc.). The job of the display is to help patrons discover books that they will love, even if they “don’t read” those sorts of books.
While patrons may say that they don’t like to read horror, they are interested in the themes that horror explores - unhappy families with secrets, the dark side of religion and belief, medical science gone wrong, natural disasters. On RA for All, Becky uses the term appeal factors in her reviews to pluck out the themes that are present in the book. Those appeal factors cross genres and are really what patrons pick up upon, even if they don’t use those words to describe what they like.
Horror can be tough to sell readers on because they have preconceived notions of what makes a book part of the genre. With psychological thrillers and suspense novels appearing so often on the bestseller lists, I think that it’s a fantastic opportunity to introduce patrons to horror because they share so many of the same appeal factors. A themed display is just a way to direct their attention to what a book has in common with books they might be more familiar with even if it’s nothing they have heard about.
Don’t prejudge what your patrons will be interested in. Displays should be for your patrons but realize that they will constantly surprise you. Books may not circulate because no one is aware they are part of your collection. Displays are really just a way to shine a temporary spotlight on a few items. One example I have from this summer is a display filled with fiction and nonfiction in honor of Pakistan’s independence day which emptied out in a week. There was nothing in particular that happened in the news or locally that would have drawn patrons to the display.
Use popular culture to draw attention to your collection and to help you learn to mix up titles. There are many people watching The Walking Dead who don’t think of themselves as horror fans. Titles like The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant would appeal to fans of the show if they were aware it existed. A great Walking Dead display could focus on the dystopian themes of the show and the abuses of power that can occur when there is a vacuum of power. Mix in some literary and historical fiction with books about dictators along with some zombie books. Walking Dead graphic novels will draw attention, allowing people to discover the other books.
Another example is the show Stranger Things on Netflix which is very popular right now. Technically, it straddles the line between horror and science fiction with pulp elements. The show includes: horror, humor, nostalgia with secret government plots, missing children, and supernatural forces. Throw up a display of books with pulp themes, 80’s pop culture, scary children with strange powers, and add some 80’s movies on DVD. Even if you are unfamiliar with some or all of these, I guarantee there are book lists out there that can inspire you. Searching for “Stranger Things read alikes” uncovers lists from libraries, bloggers, and book review sites.
I set up displays mixing literary fiction, romance, horror, mysteries, young adult fiction, non-fiction and thrillers. I try to include audiobooks and graphic novels when possible. Put up displays of juvenile materials near your adult collection. Stick non-fiction themes like crafts and cooking in fiction. People get set in their ways and sometimes visit the same parts of a library over and over again. This is especially important if you shelve your materials by genre. Your displays can help them remember that there are great books hidden in the other corners of your building.
Mix up titles, regardless of genre, and let your patrons find books that they would otherwise miss.