Saturday, December 16, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
If only a town around here would put out a call like this (from "Shelf Awareness" 12/13/06):
Town Seeks Bookstore, Must Be Independent, Energetic
Haddonfield, N.J., which has 12,000 people and is 15 minutes from Philadelphia, is looking for an independent bookstore "to enhance their downtown business district," the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association reported.
Haddonfield has "outstanding demographics, one of the best school districts in the state, parents who care deeply about education and a growing population of young families. Not to mention the fact that virtually every woman in town over the age of 25 is in some kind of book group!" Lisa Hurd, retail coordinator for the town, wrote to NAIBA. There is a Barnes & Noble 20 minutes away; Haddonfield's Cabbages and Kings bookstore closed some five years ago.
The Partnership for Haddonfield, a business improvement district for which Hurd works, offers "significant financial incentives to targeted stores [which would include a bookstore] that take the form of rent subsidies and fit-out grants."
Friday, December 8, 2006
It's from a friend of mine - "Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday" - and suddenly I'm waxing more nostalgic about the bookstore than I have in a long time. Because goddammit, I miss you, Matt.
One of the best things about Booksmith was its crew. Somehow, we always managed to hire people who just clicked together. There was the occasional employee who never quite found a niche, but for the most part, you could look at the schedule any night of the week and think, "that's going to be an excellent shift." Seven years later, and a lot of my favorite people have scattered across the country, in pursuit of other dreams. But when they're in town, I know we can go get a cup of coffee, and suddenly it's just like they've never left. Most of them are people I'd never have met if we hadn't shared those years at Booksmith.
There are very few jobs where your coworkers are also your friends. If Books That Don't Suck gets big enough for employees (aka, people who aren't related to me), I hope I can find that same sort of formula for my own crew.
Monday, December 4, 2006
I am so very proud of some of my current customers who are already making the conversion to ISBN-13, and not waiting until the last minute to let go of the old ten-digit ISBNs.
But can I just say that after, oh, thirteen years in the book world (hello, coincidence!), it's a bitch getting used to typing those three extra numbers? My fingers just refuse to do it. After a while, you get used to the rhythm of ten-digits. You know when you've keyed one number too few or too many, or when a customer gave you an extra number somewhere.
I know, six months from now, I'll be using ISBN-13 as though it had been here all along. So in five years, at the grand opening of Books That Don't Suck, the great 13-digit crisis of 2007 will seem like nothing.
But ugh, muscle memory is so very hard to retrain.
Friday, December 1, 2006
No, that wasn't an intentional pun.
Okay, maybe a little.
Anyway, I noticed two things:
Thing the first: there are books on opening all kinds of stores - coffee bars, restaurants, florist shops, car washes - but there wasn't a single book on opening a bookstore. I saw books on opening generic retail businesses, which I realize would mostly apply to a bookstore, but others got so specific, I just sort of figured... well.
So, of course, I'm thinking, "What, are you scared, Borders?* Where are the books on opening a bookstore?" (No, I haven't gone searching for one, but I'm sure such a book exists. Although, it's not an easy time to be an independent bookstore, so I doubt there are very many new books out on it.)
In the end, I walked out of there with a general how-to on starting a small business (the one whose table of contents seemed to best apply to me, for now) and another on actually writing a business plan.
Now, of course, that means I have to make use of them, and not let them gather dust on the Shelf of Good Intentions.
Thing the Second (and this one can go in the eventual employee handbook): Borders failed the One-finger Rule. To wit: on a shelf full of books facing spine-out, you should be able to place an index finger on the top of a single book, and slide it out easily. If you can't do that, or two books slide out instead of one, the shelf is packed too full. Employees of Books That Don't Suck who overstuff shelves will lose one finger for every extra book that comes out during the test.
*I know, I know. I'll do my penance for not buying from an indie this weekend. I promise. I just wanted to have some kind of tangible step taken towards 1/2/12.