Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The I's of Bookselling: Independent/Individual

Lisa SeeBeing a bookseller has its perks. We receive free ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) from publishers months before the titles are available to the general public. Publishers send out these ARCs to generate word of mouth excitement about their books. In this competitive market of selling books, independent bookstores succeed against the odds by remaining close to what they know best...good books. Independents gain the trust of their customers, and this is the reason for repeat business. Lisa See, (see photo above) bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, wrote an article in Publisher's Weekly that is a heartfelt first hand account of the impact even a single bookseller can have on a book. She wrote, "So at a time when the industry adamantly embraces its numbers game, I have a new appreciation for the role of the individual bookseller, who not only brings books and readers together, but can make totally unexpected things happen—one book, one customer, one book group at a time." Her words reaffirm the meaningful connection between authors, booksellers, and readers.

That reminds me of a story. Kay, our best handselling bookseller, is an avid mystery reader. Five years ago, she was enthusiastic about an author she had read for the first time named Harlan Coben. His book, Tell No One, kept her up all night; she shared her discovery with her fellow booksellers, friends, and most importantly, with customers. Over the next three years, Kay sold a phenomenal 500 copies of Tell No One. When our bookstore was planning a Mystery Panel, Kay was determined to have Harlan Coben attend. Unfortunately, his schedule was filled, but he sent Kay a personal email that was funny and very appreciative. Kay was thrilled.

Speaking of Harlan Coben, we're anxiously awaiting his new book, The Woods, which is arriving next week. It is the story of four teenagers who twenty years ago, while at summer camp, walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, their lives are about to change again.