This column grew from first-hand experience that many of the best bookselling ideas come from other booksellers.
A few years ago bookseller listservs were clogged with complaints about too much packing material and unwanted posters and other collateral. No more. Not only are publishers employing greener shipping practices, using more e-galleys, and letting booksellers order the promotional materials they want, but enterprising booksellers have found a way to repurpose what they do get.
"I reuse most of [the packing material]," says Andrea Vuleta, general manager of Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop in La Verne, Calif. "We process several orders a week, plus we do so many events that we are returning something almost each day." Because of the cyclical nature of the book business, when her orders are highest, she's getting the most shipments and has the most packing material on hand to ship orders and handle returns. During slow times, shipments also slack off.
Not that Vuleta is getting rid of the store’s recycling bin any time soon. It’s just that now, she says, "my biggest challenge is when a member of the community throws a flat screen TV box in my bin. I wouldn’t mind so much if they’d break it down so I had more space."
Nor does she want to get rid of print galleys entirely to save paper. Although Vuleta reads three to four e-galleys a week and her staff reads even more, she still prefers paper ARCs, and her booksellers "beg" for physical books of the e-ARCs they liked. Beyond that, Vuleta worries about having enough physical ARCs for the store’s book groups for younger readers, ages 6 to 13, because galleys for teens are much more readily e-vailable. She values the children's comments – when they won't finish a book or hate the cover. "They’ll tell me, 'This book sucks,' " says Vuleta, who pays them $2 in store credit for their reviews, which are posted on the store’s Web page for Advanced Readers Club Book Reviews.