When asked, in the normal flow of conversation, what I would do if I won the lottery, I, without hesitation, reply, "I would open an independent bookstore that sells new, used, and e-books, and whatever else, and I would hire the employees I know would be experts at saying, 'This book is amazing, you should read it!'" It would be a destination for anyone that just needed a good book. I say this with the full knowledge of the economy presently, and of the insane thought of doing something that would, in most places in the world today, be an utter failure. But I don't think it would be.
my reviews for anyone to pick up and chew like licorice, and then to go buy the book and read it. It's the end result, the conclusion of my efforts. And more than likely, I will never know the rewards of it, but it's good enough.
I've been a bookseller now for 10 years, and have always ended up on the merchandising side of
bookselling. For good reason. To enter into a bookstore, there is a clear division of workers. Thought processes that, when analyzed, become a picture of the relationship between the person and the books. Selling books requires intimate knowledge of the books themselves, so when you know the books, you begin to love them. There are very few retail locations in which the sellers fall in love with the things they are selling. Cars maybe, motorcycles, those curmudgeons who love their rusty junk on American Pickers, but it's hard to imagine a grocer falling in love with the boxes of Cheerios. When a box of cereal becomes outdated, it gets sent back, or thrown away (after credit is given, of course). The same thing happens with books, but it's much harder for some booksellers to give up the books that are on the shelves that, for whatever reason, don't sell. It could be the type of customer that frequents the store, or the fact that, shockingly, there are some authors that just don't sell well, no matter how popular they are. I've blown the dust off of more the late Maeve Binchy's novels. Case in point, I tried my hardest to merchandise the biography of Ted Turner at Borders some years ago. I stacked them wherever I could stack them, thinking that, we're in Atlanta, and Ted Turner, for whatever you may think of his political stance, created the 24 hour news channel, something that has radically altered the way we think and communicate. You could argue that Turner is as important in the history of the spread of ideas as Gutenberg was for the printing press. But they didn't sell. Even marked down to 50% off, they didn't sell. So back they went.
Truth is, I took it as a personal affront that the books didn't sell, because it was somehow my fault that the customers didn't see the books, didn't see the value of the words within the pages. That's why working in a bookstore is very hard, for a fine balance of revenue and merchandise credit must be there for a bookstore to make any profit. When bookstore owners decide that they simply can't return the books because they love them, that's when they go out of business. That's even true of the Friends of the Library bookstore at the Nancy Guinn Library in Conyers. If we keep all the books forever, waiting for someone to come in, plop down a dollar, and take a book off, we'll never make any money because their won't be any new books, and thus, no one will come to buy the old ones that have already been seen month after month. There are other workers in a bookstore that are adept at separating their love of books from selling the product in front of them. They make valuable inventory workers, although many times there are disagreements between inventory and merchandising people. It happens in every bookstore, even the FOL one, depending on the attitudes of the workers.
So if you ever find me in a Goodwill someplace, or at the Library, come ask me what good books are out there. I'll find books that I loved, and that I know you will, too. The joy of reading is only compounded when you're able to spread that joy to other readers. It's the paradox of having your own mounting collection of books at home. I know people, who have stacks upon stacks of books, boxes of them, even ones they have read, and they will remain there until they die. But aren't those books, now having imparted the information in their pages, now more valuable if the words are given to someone else to digest? Should not a book be read, then given away to someone else? Of course not..... how silly that is to think about. These are my books, and no one is going to touch them. Except that's wrong, and we all know it. We have fallen in love with our books, and we cannot let them go. So we go about our lives, with our houses on our backs, as Thoreau would say, except our houses are filled with books, ones we cannot give up, for fear of losing the imaginary worlds within if somehow the physical book vanishes. It's a complex problem, but one I'd just as soon have as not. Far more serious is the house with no books, and the owner does not care. So I shall go through, and weed and prune my books, as a gardener would, and pick the flowers I'm least likely to miss, and they will get donated. But ask me, and I'll tell you of my garden, of my treasures within, and you can read them if you want. I'll gladly give you a book, as long as I can replace it. Now I'll close this chapter, and go read my book.