Friday, October 30, 2009

Why didn't I read this earlier?

Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca begins with a dream. That generally turns me off. Other people’s dreams are dull. But several trusted customers repeatedly recommended Rebecca and it’s on the list of 50 Books to Read Before You Die that sits on the counter every day, so I kept reading.

And it was like a dream. Each night I picked up the book, I was transported back to the gracious estate of Manderley. I lived there for two glorious nights as Maxim De Winter takes his nameless young bride there. She soon discovers she will never fill the shoes of Maxim’s enchanting first wife, Rebecca. And then realizes she’d never want to. The beauty of this book is that the characters you think you know become so much more than you thought.

The book ends with more dreaming, but this time you won’t want to wake up. If you don’t yet know Rebecca, you’ll want to meet her. If you’ve already read it, you may want to read it again. I will.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Help David Beat Goliath

After a news blitz about the big boxes' price wars on the hot hardbacks for the season, my friends and associates in the indie book business are talking about final nails in their coffins. The American Booksellers Association has submitted a request to the Justice Department for an investigation into these potentially illegal predatory pricing practices.

Stephen King’s Under The Dome has a list price of $35. Retailers pay at least $17.50. Big box stores are selling this title for as low as 8.98. They are losing $8.50 per book. Imagine being in a business where you lose almost $10 per item on your most popular merchandise.

I’m green in the book business. We bought the store 2 years ago with a full awareness of the dismal future of books. So while the news of Amazilla’s practices make my stomach churn, it is not, perhaps, as devastating to me as it is to those heroic booksellers who have built their lives around finding the best books to bring to their customers. Still, it’s scary.

There’s some talk that these much-deflated prices will make books more accessible to the masses. But the danger is this: the power to decide which books are good enough to sell, which ideas are important enough to disseminate will rest with one or two conglomerates. And once the mega booksellers have driven all others out of the market, they can raise prices willy-nilly.

I’m a believer in capitalism and know we need to compete. I want to hear from our customers how we can serve you better than that faceless corporate giant. Here are some options—what’s your vote?

  1. Specialize in odd niches (does BAM have a section on Eastern European pottery from the years 1200-1600?) and rare books. (This poses some obvious problems in that our main sellers are pop fiction, but could give us a better web market).
  2. Become an idea center. Not sure how this would make money, but I sure do like the idea. Events, classes, resources. Oh wait, that might be called an institute.
  3. Sell more trade paperbacks that aren’t so discounted at the mega-stores and cool gifts that readers like.
  4. Fold.
  5. Develop our own e-reader that’s fully compatible with everything and… engineers? Programmers? Help.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Soon to the 'Shelf: Drive by Daniel Pink

I had one of those long nights of inspiration this weekend. Those nights like Jerry Maguire had when he wrote his applause-garnering mission statement. (Management promptly fired him). A stress-induced breakdown and a guilty conscience caused Jerry's. Daniel Pink and his upcoming motivational book caused mine. Not so much of a 12-step type book, in Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (due out January 2010), Pink disects motivation and how to get it.

This book applies to everyone's lives. Indeed, all parts of our lives. As I read it, I see application in my business, my marriage, my leisure activities. It applies to the way we parent, the way we educate, the way we motivate. Pink's broad, relatable research will make you want to drop the sticks-and-carrots motivation of 2.0 and upgrade your life to motivation 3.0.

For people who liked: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, or Pink's first book Whole New Mind.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book a Baby Shower

Diaper showers are so last year. Besides, wouldn't you rather have a stocked children's library than a stocked changing table? The hostesses of this baby book shower approached me with this idea and I'm stealing. Mommies-to-be can come in and register for all the books they want in their library. Guests can shop ahead of time or before the shower. We'll provide the space and the books, you provide decorations and food.

(Congratulations Chris and Crystal George. Baby Callie is now here and is absolutely beautiful!)

Top Ten Goodies from the Bookshelf to you...

Despite the mucus dripping from my nose like yolk from an egg and a blazing sore throat, my mom and I made it back from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association annual convention... And we brought back plenty of goodies for you (no worries, I handled them all with gloves and was sure not to cough on them).

First, we have free Advanced Reading Copies of the following titles (in no particular order) :
1. How Bobby Bowden Forged a Football Dynasty by Mike Freeman
2. The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White (autographed-- a great grab for Charlestonphiles)
3. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (you'll have to wait for me to finish this one)
5. Confessions of a Rebel Debutante By Anna Fields (autographed-- my mom read this out loud on our drive back. hysterical and relatable!)

Second, we also have some autographed copies for sale:
1. Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe
2. Serena by Ron Rash
3. Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle
4. Yoknapatawpha: A Study of Faulker's County by George C. Stewart
5. The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter
and many more!!

And the one that Carrie and I will selfishly not give you... The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova will be on the shelf in January!

Books will go to the first bidder... Respond to this post if you want any of these. Check out the store to see more!