Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bookselling ain't easy!

Recently,an issue of Publishers Weekly(the biggest magazine in the book industry)published an essay by a fellow named Seth Grodin,who expressed his ideas about how independant bookstores need to be more service friendly,which is like saying KFC doesn't have enough chicken on the menu. He said that many bookstores(chains and indies)are very supermarket like and only cater to needs rather than wants. Bookstores should be more like a jewelry store,with select items showcased elegantly. That's a nice ideal but let me clue you in on the real deal.

First,the supermarket analogy is good in terms of being overwhelmed by product but faulty by saying they only have what people need. People do need bread and milk but they don't need cheese popcorn and Oreos;those are wants. Supermarkets have both,like many other retail businesses. The jewelry store goal is nice but not praticial;most people don't go to jewelry stores on a regular basis and in most places,you can't touch anything due to the security glass. That might work for a rare book dealer but not for someone selling current titles. Folks need to be able to walk in and pick up a book,check the back cover for plot info,admire the front cover art-in other words,enjoy the sensation of a fresh copy the way you would savor the aroma of freshly baked bread from the corner bakery.

Being service friendly is a good selling point and it's one where most indies excell at. Of course,dealing with the public is rather nasty at times-for every pleasant person who says "thank you",there are a dozen who are downright wacky. I've had a woman who was so angry at me for not giving her free giftwrap that she literally spoke in tongues. I said to her"Ma'am if you're going to rant at me,please do it in English." One of the other customers tried to reason with her(a major sign that you're dealing with a probelm person is when other customers feel bad for you and try to help)and said to her"If you were in a coffee shop and ordered a cup of coffee and they have packs of sugar and creamers,would you expect to use the sugar and creamers there or take them home?" to which she replied"I would take ALL of the creamers!"
-how very christian of her.

What keeps me going(and not postal)is that I love books and like to help people find the ones they want,need or just desire. I've gotten over the "Can you order from Amazon/do they have it at Barnes & Noble" enquires you get(which,to me,is like going into McDonalds and asking them to sell you a Whopper)to an extent and try to do the best that I can for someone who just needs a book to relax or give as a gift. If I owned a bookstore,it would an all fiction store with novels galore and literary biographies,how to write and appreciate literature titles and plenty of bookmarks-see,even I get dreamy-eyed about this racket.

The best model for a bookstore would be the one set by Giles when he opened the Magic Box"It's just like the library,only people pay for the things they never return."

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