Had a great time last night at @misterkristoff & @amiekaufmanauthor’s signing in Miami! They were absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend taking the time to meet them if they come to your area. ?
Via:: Tumblr to WordPress
Had a great time last night at @misterkristoff & @amiekaufmanauthor’s signing in Miami! They were absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend taking the time to meet them if they come to your area. ?
Via:: Tumblr to WordPress
I come home from work today and it’s a typical Monday. When I check Facebook, however, things suddenly get a little more interesting. My day went from blegh to OMG REALLY?! in about three seconds all because of this post:
I had no clue! It’s true, though! My book is now up for preorder (paperback only so far; ebook links to come!!). It’s not only up, it’s up all over the internet! Have a favorite store? You can probably preorder it there. For the sake of convenience, though, LINKS!
Now I’m going to go try to forget I know it’s possible for people to buy my book. Really. The less I think about it, the saner I’ll be in March when it actually releases! 😉
*runs off flinging glitter*
Like books themselves, bookstores haven’t changed much in essentials in a very long time. Sure most bookstores don’t act as libraries anymore (cause we have actual libraries for that now), but otherwise the last century hasn’t seen the bookstore changing in leaps and bounds.
Yesterday I found this essay thanks to someone I used to work at a bookstore with. Written by George Orwell in 1936, it talks about one of the most common complaint of booksellers: the customers. I found the whole thing really interesting, so now I’m posting it here in its entirety. Enjoy!
Bookshop MemoriesWhen I worked in a second-hand bookshop — so easily pictured, if you don’t work in one, as a kind of paradise where charming old gentlemen browse eternally among calf-bound folios — the thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people. Our shop had an exceptionally interesting stock, yet I doubt whether ten per cent of our customers knew a good book from a bad one. First edition snobs were much commoner than lovers of literature, but oriental students haggling over cheap textbooks were commoner still, and vague-minded women looking for birthday presents for their nephews were commonest of all.
Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who ‘wants a book for an invalid’ (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember the title or the author’s name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover. But apart from these there are two well-known types of pest by whom every second-hand bookshop is haunted. One is the decayed person smelling of old breadcrusts who comes every day, sometimes several times a day, and tries to sell you worthless books. The other is the person who orders large quantities of books for which he has not the smallest intention of paying. In our shop we sold nothing on credit, but we would put books aside, or order them if necessary, for people who arranged to fetch them away later. Scarcely half the people who ordered books from us ever came back. It used to puzzle me at first. What made them do it? They would come in and demand some rare and expensive book, would make us promise over and over again to keep it for them, and then would vanish never to return. But many of them, of course, were unmistakable paranoiacs. They used to talk in a grandiose manner about themselves and tell the most ingenious stories to explain how they had happened to come out of doors without any money — stories which, in many cases, I am sure they themselves believed. In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money. In the end one gets to know these people almost at a glance. For all their big talk there is something moth-eaten and aimless about them. Very often, when we were dealing with an obvious paranoiac, we would put aside the books he asked for and then put them back on the shelves the moment he had gone. None of them, I noticed, ever attempted to take books away without paying for them; merely to order them was enough — it gave them, I suppose, the illusion that they were spending real money.
Like most second-hand bookshops we had various sidelines. We sold second-hand typewriters, for instance, and also stamps — used stamps, I mean. Stamp-collectors are a strange, silent, fish-like breed, of all ages, but only of the male sex; women, apparently, fail to see the peculiar charm of gumming bits of coloured paper into albums. We also sold sixpenny horoscopes compiled by somebody who claimed to have foretold the Japanese earthquake. They were in sealed envelopes and I never opened one of them myself, but the people who bought them often came back and told us how ‘true’ their horoscopes had been. (Doubtless any horoscope seems ‘true’ if it tells you that you are highly attractive to the opposite sex and your worst fault is generosity.) We did a good deal of business in children’s books, chiefly ‘remainders’. Modern books for children are rather horrible things, especially when you see them in the mass. Personally I would sooner give a child a copy of Petrenius Arbiter than Peter Pan, but even Barrie seems manly and wholesome compared with some of his later imitators. At Christmas time we spent a feverish ten days struggling with Christmas cards and calendars, which are tiresome things to sell but good business while the season lasts. It used to interest me to see the brutal cynicism with which Christian sentiment is exploited. The touts from the Christmas card firms used to come round with their catalogues as early as June. A phrase from one of their invoices sticks in my memory. It was: ‘2 doz. Infant Jesus with rabbits’.
But our principal sideline was a lending library — the usual ‘twopenny no-deposit’ library of five or six hundred volumes, all fiction. How the book thieves must love those libraries! It is the easiest crime in the world to borrow a book at one shop for twopence, remove the label and sell it at another shop for a shilling. Nevertheless booksellers generally find that it pays them better to have a certain number of books stolen (we used to lose about a dozen a month) than to frighten customers away by demanding a deposit.
Our shop stood exactly on the frontier between Hampstead and Camden Town, and we were frequented by all types from baronets to bus-conductors. Probably our library subscribers were a fair cross-section of London’s reading public. It is therefore worth noting that of all the authors in our library the one who ‘went out’ the best was — Priestley? Hemingway? Walpole? Wodehouse? No, Ethel M. Dell, with Warwick Deeping a good second and Jeffrey Farnol, I should say, third. Dell’s novels, of course, are read solely by women, but by women of all kinds and ages and not, as one might expect, merely by wistful spinsters and the fat wives of tobacconists. It is not true that men don’t read novels, but it is true that there are whole branches of fiction that they avoid. Roughly speaking, what one might call the average novel — the ordinary, good-bad, Galsworthy-and-water stuff which is the norm of the English novel — seems to exist only for women. Men read either the novels it is possible to respect, or detective stories. But their consumption of detective stories is terrific. One of our subscribers to my knowledge read four or five detective stories every week for over a year, besides others which he got from another library. What chiefly surprised me was that he never read the same book twice. Apparently the whole of that frightful torrent of trash (the pages read every year would, I calculated, cover nearly three quarters of an acre) was stored for ever in his memory. He took no notice of titles or author’s names, but he could tell by merely glancing into a book whether be had ‘had it already’.
In a lending library you see people’s real tastes, not their pretended ones, and one thing that strikes you is how completely the ‘classical’ English novelists have dropped out of favour. It is simply useless to put Dickens, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Trollope, etc. into the ordinary lending library; nobody takes them out. At the mere sight of a nineteenth-century novel people say, ‘Oh, but that’s old!’ and shy away immediately. Yet it is always fairly easy to sell Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare. Dickens is one of those authors whom people are ‘always meaning to’ read, and, like the Bible, he is widely known at second hand. People know by hearsay that Bill Sikes was a burglar and that Mr Micawber had a bald head, just as they know by hearsay that Moses was found in a basket of bulrushes and saw the ‘back parts’ of the Lord. Another thing that is very noticeable is the growing unpopularity of American books. And another — the publishers get into a stew about this every two or three years — is the unpopularity of short stories. The kind of person who asks the librarian to choose a book for him nearly always starts by saying ‘I don’t want short stories’, or ‘I do not desire little stories’, as a German customer of ours used to put it. If you ask them why, they sometimes explain that it is too much fag to get used to a new set of characters with every story; they like to ‘get into’ a novel which demands no further thought after the first chapter. I believe, though, that the writers are more to blame here than the readers. Most modern short stories, English and American, are utterly lifeless and worthless, far more so than most novels. The short stories which are stories are popular enough, vide D. H. Lawrence, whose short stories are as popular as his novels.
Would I like to be a bookseller de métier? On the whole — in spite of my employer’s kindness to me, and some happy days I spent in the shop — no.
Given a good pitch and the right amount of capital, any educated person ought to be able to make a small secure living out of a bookshop. Unless one goes in for ‘rare’ books it is not a difficult trade to learn, and you start at a great advantage if you know anything about the insides of books. (Most booksellers don’t. You can get their measure by having a look at the trade papers where they advertise their wants. If you don’t see an ad. for Boswell’s Decline and Fall you are pretty sure to see one for The Mill on the Floss by T. S. Eliot.) Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman. But the hours of work are very long — I was only a part-time employee, but my employer put in a seventy-hour week, apart from constant expeditions out of hours to buy books — and it is an unhealthy life. As a rule a bookshop is horribly cold in winter, because if it is too warm the windows get misted over, and a bookseller lives on his windows. And books give off more and nastier dust than any other class of objects yet invented, and the top of a book is the place where every bluebottle prefers to die.
But the real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books. A bookseller has to tell lies about books, and that gives him a distaste for them; still worse is the fact that he is constantly dusting them and hauling them to and fro. There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old. Nothing pleased me quite so much as to buy a job lot of them for a shilling at a country auction. There is a peculiar flavour about the battered unexpected books you pick up in that kind of collection: minor eighteenth-century poets, out-of-date gazeteers, odd volumes of forgotten novels, bound numbers of ladies’ magazines of the sixties. For casual reading — in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch — there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girl’s Own Paper. But as soon as I went to work in the bookshop I stopped buying books. Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening. Nowadays I do buy one occasionally, but only if it is a book that I want to read and can’t borrow, and I never buy junk. The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles.1936THE END____BD____
George Orwell: ‘Bookshop Memories’
First published: Fortnightly. — GB, London. — November 1936.
- — ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968.____
Machine-readable version: O. Dag
Last modified on: 2004-11-24
Before I say anything else, I have to make a statement: I can only go clothes shopping if it happens spontaneously. Otherwise I find NOTHING. Last night I went to Sports Authority for a new backpack for my trip and decided on a whim to stop by the clothing section. I end up walking out of the store with seven (yes, seven) dresses. Oh, and the backpack. Luckily, the dresses were all FIFTY PERCENT OFF! And I didn’t know this until I made it up to the register. Best surprise ever! And so I took the money I thought I was spending and went to Target where I bought four pairs of shorts and a bunch of shirts. And now I probably won’t shop again for about a year. 🙂
Anyway, moving on…
Have you ever wondered how some books take off like a rocket and others only drift along like a helium balloon? The hows and whys of this are changing, but right now it still has a lot to do with bookstores, booksellers, and book addicts. People who don’t read often are probably going to take their book buying advice from someone in one of those positions, so if a local bookstore employee loves a certain book, suddenly that book is selling like ice cream in the middle of summer. Seriously. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve done it during my time as a Borders bookslave.
Not too long after the release of the Hunger Games movie, I found a detailed article online about the behind-the-scenes efforts to make this book fly. Obviously, it worked. The article on Salon.com gives a detailed look at the life cycle of this book from proposal to publication to bestsellerdom and lets us peek behind the curtain at what can happen when you have the influence of a really excited industry behind you. Read it. It’s worth the time.
|The Strand in NYC
I’m still kind of crazy busy right now, so I’m stealing another post I like. This one I found on OpenSalon.com and it’s written by a woman not long after she opened an independent bookstore. Having served my time between the shelves, I can tell you this is all true.
So, for now, enjoy 25 Things I Learned From Opening A Bookstore and hopefully I’ll be back to writing my own posts next week. 🙂
1. People are getting rid of bookshelves. Treat the money you budgeted for shelving as found money. Go to garage sales and cruise the curbs.
2. While you’re drafting that business plan, cut your projected profits in half. People are getting rid of bookshelves.
3. If someone comes in and asks where to find the historical fiction, they’re not looking for classics, they want the romance section.
4. If someone comes in and says they read a little of everything, they also want the romance section.
5. If someone comes in and asks for a recommendation and you ask for the name of a book that they liked and they can’t think of one, the person is not really a reader. Recommend Nicholas Sparks.
6. Kids will stop by your store on their way home from school if you have a free bucket of kids books. If you also give out free gum, they’ll come every day and start bringing their friends.
7. If you put free books outside, cookbooks will be gone in the first hour and other non-fiction books will sit there for weeks. Except in warm weather when people are having garage sales. Then someone will back their car up and take everything, including your baskets.
8. If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they’re really free, no matter how many signs you put out . Someone else will walk in and ask if everything in the store is free.
9. No one buys self help books in a store where there’s a high likelihood of personal interaction when paying. Don’t waste the shelf space, put them in the free baskets.
10. This is also true of sex manuals. The only ones who show an interest in these in a small store are the gum chewing kids, who will find them no matter how well you hide them.
11. Under no circumstances should you put the sex manuals in the free baskets. Parents will show up.
12. People buying books don’t write bad checks. No need for ID’s. They do regularly show up having raided the change jar.
13. If you have a bookstore that shares a parking lot with a beauty shop that caters to an older clientele, the cars parked in your lot will always be pulled in at an angle even though it’s not angle parking.
14. More people want to sell books than buy them, which means your initial concerns were wrong. You will have no trouble getting books, the problem is selling them. Plus a shortage of storage space for all the Readers Digest books and encyclopedias that people donate to you.
15. If you open a store in a college town, and maybe even if you don’t, you will find yourself as the main human contact for some strange and very socially awkward men who were science and math majors way back when. Be nice and talk to them, and ignore that their fly is open.
16. Most people think every old book is worth a lot of money. The same is true of signed copies and 1st editions. There’s no need to tell them they’re probably not ensuring financial security for their grandkids with that signed Patricia Cornwell they have at home.
17. There’s also no need to perpetuate the myth by pricing your signed Patricia Cornwell higher than the non-signed one.
18. People use whatever is close at hand for bookmarks–toothpicks, photographs, kleenex, and the very occasional fifty dollar bill, which will keep you leafing through books way beyond the point where it’s productive.
19. If you’re thinking of giving someone a religious book for their graduation, rethink. It will end up unread and in pristine condition at a used book store, sometimes with the fifty dollar bill still tucked inside. (And you’re off and leafing once again).
20. If you don’t have an AARP card, you’re apparently too young to read westerns.
21. A surprising number of people will think you’ve read every book in the store and will keep pulling out volumes and asking you what this one is about. These are the people who leave without buying a book, so it’s time to have some fun. Make up plots.
22. Even if you’re a used bookstore, people will get huffy when you don’t have the new release by James Patterson. They are the same people who will ask for a discount because a book looks like it’s been read.
23. Everyone has a little Nancy Drew in them. Stock up on the mysteries.
24. It is both true and sad that some people do in fact buy books based on the color of the binding.
25. No matter how many books you’ve read in the past, you will feel woefully un-well read within a week of opening the store. You will also feel wise at having found such a good way to spend your days.
Not too long ago, I wrote a post talking about the power-plays companies like Amazon and PayPal have been making in recent years. This morning I stumbled across more information on two of the specific cases I mentioned in that post.
Nathan Bransford talks about the DOJ investigation into ebook pricing on his blog, specifically how the decisions made in the case could impact the publishing industry as a whole. It’s an interesting insider look at the big picture and I highly recommend heading over to his blog to check it out. Jut in case you don’t have time to do that, here’s just a little bit:
Up until now, conscious or not, consumers have grown accustomed to the idea that e-books cost what they cost. The decision of what e-reader to buy or which app to read on has largely been driven by user experience preferences.
Do you like the feel of the nook? The ease of the Kindle app? The pretty iBooks page animation? Those are the decisions people have been basing their decisions on – the reading and buying experience.
But if the agency model is dismantled in whole or in part and Amazon and others can go back to pricing as they see fit, suddenly price is going to be at the forefront of consumer choice.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Amazon and their deep pockets are going to have a big advantage in that environment.
And, just an fyi, he explains the difference between the agency and the wholesale model in the post.
In my previously mentioned post, I also talked about how PayPal was using its leverage against ebook distributors like Smashwords to ban certain types of erotica. Apparently,
they’re backtracking fast. [[edited to add: article no longer up]] Their new policy is much more reasonable and will only refuse the sale of books containing graphic (and potentially illegal) imagery and anything hinting of child pornography. The new rules will also look at books on a case by case basis instead of making sweeping statements about entire genres or topics. Mark Coker, founder of e-book distributor Smashwords, said:
“This is going to be a major victory for writers, readers and free speech. They are going to build a protective moat around legal fiction.”
I have to agree with Mr. Coker. It’s fantastic PayPal was made to see reason because otherwise this could have been a dark day in the annuls of literary history.
Oh, and, in completely unrelated news,
Go me! 😀
Look for a giveaway of a bracelet I made to celebrate this milestone.
Having spent most of my day at a mall (eww), it brings me back to my days as a retail employee during the holiday season. When the bookstores began to die, a few stores gave up the veneer of complacency and decided to tell customers exactly why they’ve gotten on our nerves over the years. Having lived through two years of Borders I can vouch that all of these are true. All of them and then some. >.< So, in the spirit of the season, here are some things NOT to do when you go into most stores. Chances are if you avoid these errors, you'll get better service. 😉
Things We Never Told You: Ode To A Bookstore Death
We hate when a book becomes popular simply because it was turned into a movie.
It confused us when we were asked where the non-fiction section is.
Nicholas Sparks is not a good writer … if you like him, fine, but facts are facts.
We greatly dislike the phrase “Quick question.” It’s never true. And everyone seems to have one.
Your summer reading list was our summer reading NIGHTMARE. Also, it’s called summer reading, not three days before school starts reading.
It’s true that we lean to the left and think Glenn Beck is an idiot.
We always knew when you were intently reading Better Homes and Gardens, it was really a hidden Playboy.
Most of the time when you returned books you read them already – and we were onto you.
Limit One Coupon did not mean one for every member of your family – this angered us. Also, we did know what coupons were out.
It never bothered us when you threatened to shop at Barnes & Noble. We’d rather you do if you’re putting up a stink.
“I was just here last week and saw this book there” meant nothing to us. The store changed once a week.
When you walked in and immediately said, “I’m looking for a book,” what you really meant to say is, “I would like you to find me a book.” You never looked. It’s fine, it’s our job – but let’s be correct about what’s really happening here.
If you don’t know the author, title, or genre, but you do know the color of the cover, we don’t either. How it was our fault that we couldn’t find it we’ll never understand.
We were never a daycare. Letting your children run free and destroy our section destroyed a piece of our souls.
Oprah was not the “final say” on what is awesome. We really didn’t care what was on her show or what her latest book club book was. Really.
When you returned your SAT books, we knew you used them. We thought it wasn’t fair – seeing that we are not a library.