Longtime children’s bookseller Patty Cryan purchased Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester in Worcester, Mass., late last year and has already given the store, which specializes in used books, her own stamp. Not only did she move it into a 1350 sq. ft. location a few blocks away, but also increased the children’s section. “A full third of the selling space is devoted to children’s books, and we’ve started holding storytime and other events, including our very first YA signing,” she says.
Cryan, who started her career alongside ABA’s Pete Reynolds at Reader’s Market in Rye Brook, N.Y., a sales annex for Waldenbooks, also worked at Children’s Book World in Guilderland, N.Y., before going to Tatnuck Bookseller in Worcester, where she managed the children’s department and bought children’s books. In addition, she has helped grow online bookseller Mike’s Comics, founded by her partner, Michael Salvo, when he was in his teens.
Under Cryan’s ownership, Annie’s of Worcester, which is part of a national association of Annie’s Book Stops/Swaps, has gradually increased its inventory of new titles. “They are now about 10 to 15% of the inventory,” says Cryan, who discounts all books. “My customers are used to having a discount. I can’t get retail prices.” On the adult side, trade paperbacks for book club picks like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Cutting for Stone sell well in new editions. Typically paperbacks work best at Annie’s, but Cryan does well with new hardcover picture books at Christmas and for baby shower gifts. New hardcover YA is a hard sell except for big releases, while pre-read middle grade books and YA fly out of the store, as do summer reading titles.
“It’s really a matter of conditioning the neighborhood that this is a general bookstore, not a used bookstore,” says Cryan. To help change people’s perceptions, she has set up an active events schedule that includes knitting nights, or what she calls Spinning Yarns. While the crafters knit, Cryan plays audiobooks in the background; one disc of a J.D. Robb novel fills an hour. In addition, Cryan holds Friday morning storytimes and special kids’ events, like a day-long one on Myths and Magic earlier this month.