The three bestselling items at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Del., this holiday season "don't have pages," said owner Steve Crane. The Beaches of Delaware Wall Calendar by photographer Kevin Fleming is the #1 selection, followed by the Elf on the Shelf doll and Michael Bublé's album Christmas.
The top sellers with pages are Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney. Shoppers are gravitating toward the perennially popular staff recommendations sections for gift ideas, selecting backlist titles such as Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain and new releases like Ellen Morgenstern's The Night Circus. Among store manager Susan McAnelly's favorite handsells are Tom McNeal's To Be Sung Underwater, the story of a middle-aged woman questioning whether she took a wrong turn in life, Veronica Roth's debut YA novel, Divergent, and John Stephens's middle grade tale The Emerald Atlas.
This time of year, Browseabout Books' clientele includes Rehoboth Beach residents, area vacation homeowners and tourists who come for weekend festivities. The store, situated a block from the Atlantic Ocean, is professionally decorated for the holidays, but even on its own the exterior is eye-catching enough that passersby stop for photo ops. A mural depicts well-stocked bookshelves with slightly skewed titles that play on the beach theme--Silas Mariner, Cods and Generals, Chicken Soup for the Surfer's Soul, Gull, Interrupted and hundreds more. T-shirts, ornaments, postcards, and other store-branded merchandise featuring an illustration of the unusual storefront are hits with customers.
Several titles featured in the local-interest section are by two famous figures and friends of the store: Today stars Kathie Lee Gifford, whose tomes include the children's picture books Party Animals and The Three Gifts: A Story about Three Angels and the Baby Jesus, and Hoda Kotb, the author of Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee. The duo, both of whom have family ties to Rehoboth Beach, did a joint signing this summer at Browseabout Books, which they mentioned many times on air.
Sales are holding steady so far this season at Browseabout Books. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, the store has been a Rehoboth Beach fixture for more than three decades. Crane and his wife, Barbara, both former educators, originally owned three retail locations--a smaller bookstore, a toy store and a gift boutique--that have been consolidated into the 13,000 square foot Browseabout Books. When asked if he is doing anything differently this year during the holidays, Crane had a ready answer that might be the secret to his long-running success: "Just do it better." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt