This column grew from first-hand experience that many of the best bookselling ideas come from other booksellers. Each tip offers an inventive way to solve problems that you may not have even been aware of: like turning an author signing into a unique signing or selling even more series titles.
Signed, Doodled, & Delivered
Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Books in Richmond, Va., credits her relationships with bloggers like Rebecca Joines Schinsky (The Book Lady), who writes mostly about adult titles, and Susan Robertson (Wastepaper Prose), who specializes in YA, with giving her store a greater presence both nationally and internationally. They’ve also helped strengthen Fountain’s connection with authors, she says. Not only have they helped organize author events in the store, but they’ve helped her create unique author offerings on Fountain’s Web site.
“A lot of booksellers complain about the lack of online sales,” says Justice. “What’s working for us is offering content you can’t get anywhere else, like signed copies exclusively through our Web site—and only if you preorder. Our Web site is making money now.” For example, Justice met Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, through Robertson. When the final book in her series, Forever, comes out in July, Stiefvater will sign and draw a unique doodle in each preordered copy. Then Justice, with a little help from Robertson, will pack up the books and ship them out.
Don’t Overlook Numero Uno
“Every store should do a table introducing the first book in a series,” recommends John Netzer, general manager of Concord Bookshop in Concord, Mass. After putting up a display table in the adult section of series firsts—the first Rabbit Angstrom (John Updike’s Rabbit, Run), Frank Bascom (Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter), Captain Hornblower (C.S. Forester’s Beat to Quarters), and Inspector Wexley (Ruth Rendell’s From Doon with Death)—it sold so well that he decided to try one in children’s.
Three weeks ago Concord set up a display of children’s firsts—the first Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), the start of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games),and the first in Collins’s five-part The Underland Chronicles (Gregor the Overlander). “It’s slower for the kids. They’re really on top of what’s first. But for parents and grandparents it’s working,” says Netzer. “Don’t underestimate your customers, but don’t overestimate, too.”