Meet a Bookseller: Riley Jay

It’s Meet a Bookseller Monday, and today we’re excited to introduce Riley Jay, bookseller at Next Chapter Booksellers in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

How did you get into bookselling?

It was an accident of a post-grad job. I was three months unemployed and figured that spending money on books I didn’t need would help. I offhandedly asked if the store was hiring and now, almost three years later, I’ve taken on a lot of responsibilities with the store, and it’s fused with my identity.

What do you love most about being a bookseller?

I have a special interest in kids books, and children are some of the toughest critics. So when I get a kid excited about a new book or hear from a teacher that I sold books to about how much their kids enjoy the books I picked out for their classroom, it really just makes even the toughest days worth it.

What do you love most about your bookstore?

We had a lot of changes over the past year because we were sold to a new owner in April of 2019, changed names, did a lot of rebranding. It’s been amazing to see the community support in that transition and all the appreciation of the hard work that we do here.

What are you listening to right now?

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. It’s on the Kids Indie’s Introduce list, and I got to read part of it when I was on the judging panel for it. But an audiobook is honestly a different experience, especially for a book with such emotions as comedy.

What audiobooks would you recommend or are among your favorites?

I mean, my favorite book of all time is Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. When I first experienced that book, it was in audiobook format, so it really was a part of my overall experience with the book.

I also really enjoyed Heroine by Mindy McGinnis, Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown, Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn, and Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Can you tell I listen to a lot of audiobooks?

Where / when do you listen to audiobooks?

I run a lot, so that’s when I listen to them most often. It’s a lot easier to push through four and a half miles when you’re engrossed in a thrilling plot.

What is your favorite thing about audiobooks through

The ALC list is probably the first thing I check at the start of a month. I love to see what books I get to listen to early. Plus, I can download a whole bunch of them, and they don’t take up space in my house.

What do you do when you’re not selling books?

I’m really into cartoons and animation. I think that’s part of why I enjoy audiobooks so much—they both require voice-acting, and the narrator or voice actor can make or break a book experience just like a cartoon.

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