Our new 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 in your store: like doing even more good with recycling, finding a less time-consuming way to participate in book fairs, or doing a better job marketing quirky, fun books that don’t always fit a traditional category.
“We do a lot of off-site events and find them to be worthwhile when you pick them carefully,” says Leslie Reiner, co-owner of Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fl. Although she no longer considers doing an entire school book fair profitable, she’s found a less time-intensive way to supplement Inkwood’s bottom line, by enhancing Scholastic Book Fairs. For area schools that Inkwood has partnered with, the store will bring in late-breaking titles that it might be too late for a school to order for a fair or for a PTA meeting—like recently announced winners of Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Awards or new additions to summer reading lists. In an arrangement that Reiner dubs “lovely,” the school handles sales, and Inkwood invoices for the quantity sold.
“I have a shelf in the store that I tend lovingly, buy for, hand sell from, and guard against returns by uncaring staff,” says Luan Stauss, owner of nine-year-old Laurel Book Store in Oakland, Calif. Her OBOI (“oh, boy”), or odd bits of information, shelf is sandwiched between Writers’ Resources and Reference in the adult section and is piled with word books, trivia collections, and word histories. But, says Stauss, it could just as easily work in children’s, where she is considering adding a second one. Peter Crisp’s One Million Things (DK), Guinness Book of World Records 2011 (Guinness), and the Weird But True Books (National Geographic Kids) are among the kids titles that fit her exacting criteria: things that aren’t easily categorized, but are fun to read.
Recycling for Schools
The amount of paper—and cardboard—around a bookstore can be “unfriggenbelievable,” says Ellen Mager, owner of Booktenders’ Secret Garden Children’s Bookstore & Gallery in Doylestown, Pa., and her building doesn’t offer recycling. However, she’s found an easy fix to being green, while helping area schools raise needed funds. “My local schools have recycling bins and they earn so much money per filled bin,” she explains. “So I pack small-sized boxes of papers and catalogs and put them on the porch.” When parents stop by, she asks them to take one when they leave. Since the schools don’t take cardboard, Mager is planning to work out an arrangement with a nearby restaurant that has a dumpster for cardboard.
If you have tips you’d like to share, please e-mail them to Judith Rosen.