The Big Count

Caleigh Minshall

Last night I dreamed about cardboard boxes. There was one on the kitchen floor, and I accidentally fell in — and then, when I hit the bottom, I fell into another box. And another! My kitchen floor was just a disguise for an unending stack of ravenous cardboard boxes that loved to swallow interns whole.

That’s right.

It’s inventory time at the Quill.

Actually, we just finished this afternoon. After two days of Elke, Jill and I sweating in the warehouse, counting books and reorganizing boxes, we finally have a (mostly) accurate list of what we have, where we have it and how much space is left for upcoming titles. Jill is, fortunately, a whiz at stacking and sorting boxes, so we have a surprising amount of space left over from the Big Count (my pet name for inventory time). The warehouse sparkles, and a box of left-over freebie books sits outside the shop waiting for a new home. Another unexpected perk: finding pictures of Tim and Elke when they were my age! (Jill and I decided that they looked like rockstars.)

On Saturday, I attended the Meet the Presses’ Indie Literary Market as planned. My co-conspirator was Don McLeod, the editor of the Devil’s Artisan (and a big wig at the University of Toronto library). We had a good chat about the Toronto Pride parade, the dwindling number of school libraries and the exploding number of students at library and publishing graduate programs (uh oh … this is my future we’re talking about here). There were lots of visitors to the fair, and so in between talking publishing and eating the delicious burgers at Clinton’s Tavern, Don and I sold books!

Our most popular title was definitely Coal and Roses by P. K. Page, which, although it sadly did not win the Griffin, still attracted lots of attention. We actually sold out of this title — and then people turned to The Essential P. K. Page for a quick Page hit. George A. Walker’s A is for Alice was also very popular, and we also got a lot of questions about our new graphic novel series: Martha Chudolinska’s Back + Forth and, our newest addition to the series, Megan Speers’s Wanderlust. An old friend from high school even came to visit me at the booth and she went away with Sheree-Lee Olson’s Sailor Girl. And remember that little PQL contribution to the Market anthology I told you about in my last blog? It was actually (sort of) popular, too! I even did some shopping of my own, and in my lunch bag now sits a copy of Cordelia Strube’s Lemon (Coach House Books, 2009) — so far so good, and also served as a great conversation-starter with the representative from Brick Books (whose name, embarrassingly, I can’t remember).

Although driving in downtown Toronto nearly led to my tragic and untimely demise, I made it back to home sweet Caledon in one piece — just in time to recuperate on Sunday and get to work on inventory on Monday morning.

Tomorrow I have the day off, because I’ll be attending my convocation at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I’m not too excited for the silly gown or goofy hat, but I am excited to say ‘thank you’ to the school — and, more importantly, the people — that taught me to have the guts to go after what I want in life — including an internship at a small press!

Caleigh Minshall

About Caleigh

Intern at the Porcupine's Quill.
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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.