Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Bottom Shelf News

Another day at the Bottom Shelf, another slice of Fallbrook life.

One customer wants to use American Express; another offers a hundred dollar bill; the kids come in with sweaty pennies. Many people use their pocket change and scrape it out of the bottom of their purses or pockets ... linty, sticky but still spendable. Some come in without any money and put the books on hold.

Many customers give us a quarter when they buy a book for a dime. The marketer inside of me screams, "Why not sell the books for a quarter each?" Four for a dollar? I don't believe people care if it's a dime or a quarter. The kids might, but most adults barely perceive the difference. If there's a bit of change involved in our transactions, many people put it in the jar on the counter - charitable contributions to the library which most of them love. What better charity—the money goes directly from the jar to the library coffers where it's spent on:

  • Library summer reading program
  • Special collection purchases
  • Friends-sponsored events
    • Monthly music series
    • Annual Community Read
    • Art exhibits
    • Author appearances

We sell books on-line—these are the "rarer" books. All non-fiction books are checked on the ISBN checker for value. The machine rings a little happy chime when it detects something of value. Those books are the ones sold on-line on various sites.

After a year and a half on the job (18 half-days—this is a slow process), I've gotten to know the "regulars." We have cookbook collectors and people who collect specific authors. There are a couple of on-line book dealers who cruise the inventory regularly. The best regulars are the little kids who burst in the door and run right over to "their" book section, looking for new titles. I love it when you get a little hand stretched up to put money on the counter, the hand is attached to some tiny tot, probably not yet reading, but loving picture books or choosing something a parent can read to them. Some children head straight for the little kid chairs and table, grab a book and sit down to thumb through it. Future readers of America. They're like a ray of sunshine in the bookstore and liven things up considerably.

We have a "free" box where we put damaged books or books which we judge to have little interest to buyers. The other day I saw a Jane Fonda Exercise Video languishing in the box. Shelf space is limited and we cannot offer everything for sale. I check it out whenever I'm in there, because once in a while, there's a jewel.

I think we could add "book reviews" to the book shelves—reviews from the volunteers or simply copied from the web. We could also post a list of the award-winning books (Pulitzers, Bookers, Nation Book Award, PEN/Faulkner award, James Beard Award, Rita Award) somewhere that customers could consult. The Rita Award is for Romance Fiction  a hot item at the store—pardon the pun.

Here are a few recent Rita award winners, at which serious readers scoff, but which have made the authors a lot of money. Some of these writers have impressive literary credentials—MFA's and the like, but find better money and better audience response in the romance business. Fans of romance are generally voracious readers and consume multiple books per week. Certainly, this is borne out at the Bottom Shelf, where customers buy these titles by the dozen.

My favorite title: No doubt as to what this book is about. 

The award winners could be marked with a sticky star or something to make them easy to spot on the shelves. Some people come in and want to browse; others want you to lead them directly to their selections. I wonder if anything we do other than the tried and true quarterly half-price sale would increase revenue significantly.

"Co-Editor" of the Bottom Shelf Volunteer Newsletter—a new job! Nancy and I have accepted the task of co-editing the publication, a job I'm thrilled to be doing. I haven't had a title in sooooo long and Co-Editor, even of the BS News, is something. We will edit, produce and distribute the letter for the Bottom Shelf volunteers, a limited but discerning audience to be sure. Woe to us if we overlook a typo or misplace a semicolon or misuse an ellipsis ... or further, to use an M-dash—instead of an N–dash*. I wonder if there's a style book? The newsletter contains useful information and reminders about procedures for the volunteers. Often, there's a bio of one of the volunteers. We're going to have to learn about Mail Chimp. What a challenge.

* Useful information learned at the writing workshop with Kit-Bacon. Note the correct use of these punctuation marks in the above text and forget about the 1300 blog posts I've written incorrectly. Knowledge is power.

1 comment:

  1. love this description of the Bottom Shelf. Some really great ideas. It will be fun to work together on the newsletter. looking forward to it.