In a combination of serendipitous publicity and nimble teamwork, Brooklyn-based Akashic Books and a newly launched local bookseller, Greenlight Bookstore, turned three hot media recommendations into a holiday windfall.
Akashic Books publishes the Noir series, a popular anthology series of mostly original crime and mystery writing set in cities around the world, which generally sells well around the holidays. But in early December, a perfect storm of holiday recommendations—Oprah magazine, the New York Times Holiday Gift Blog, and the New York Post—sent orders and sales skyrocketing. The Times blog even linked to the Noir series page on the Akashic site and direct sales shot up.
All of this got rolling just as Akashic’s publisher, Johnny Temple, was attending the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico. Temple recalled that he received a frantic e-mail from staff at his Fort Greene, Brooklyn, office—almost around the corner from Greenlight Bookstore—telling him, “Noir sales were just going crazy. People were buying multiple copies, 10 copies at a time,” said Temple. So he quickly shot an e-mail off to Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight, asking if she’d set up some kind of Noir display. “The timing was perfect,” said Bagnulo, who along with co-owner Rebecca Fitting opened the bookstore in 2009.
“Akashic is like our local publisher. Johnny’s in here all the time. We put up a big display, and it did fantastically well,” Bagnulo said. The three Brooklyn Noir titles sold out completely, and Bagnulo had to scramble to restock the display. Temple said the house made “multiple thousands” of sales: “Our Web site sales were up like 3,000%.” Akashic had just released a 10,000-copy first printing of Boston Noir (edited by novelist Dennis Lehane) in November—it was already on the Boston Globe bestseller list—and had to rush through an “emergency” printing of 3,000 copies.
Temple described it as “an absolutely killer holiday season—our best ever.” Bagnulo said that despite being a new store and having to cope with a holiday snowstorm—“I think it helped; people just shopped in the neighborhood”—the store has done well overall. “We passed all our sales goals, but teaming up with Akashic was the perfect combination of timing and neighborhood connections. People are still twittering about it.”