J L Sathre wrote a wonderful article on Salon.com about her experience in opening a bookstore:
25 Things I Learned from Opening a Bookstore: http://open.salon.com/blog/jlsathre/2012/01/11/25_things_i_learned_from_opening_a_bookstore.
Here are a few of her points that might be useful to other booksellers and book authors (as rewritten by me with some commentary).
1. You can get cheap bookshelves by going to garage sales and cruising the curbsides.
2. When writing a business plan, cut your expected profits in half.
3. Historical fiction is not classic fiction. It’s romance novels.
4. When someone says they read a little of everything, they are looking for the romance section.
John’s note: Except for men, who are looking for picture books with few words.
5. If a person asks for a book recommendation but can’t remember the names of any books they like, recommend Nicholas Sparks.
6. Kids will stop by your store if you have a free bucket of kids books.
John’s note: Of course, adults will do the same thing. Everyone likes free.
7. Free cookbooks are gone in hours. Other free nonfiction books stick around for weeks.
John’s note: Write and sell cookbooks. They even sell better than most memoirs. If you have to write a memoir, include recipes. If you are writing a book that answers all the questions of the universe, include recipes.
8. If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they’re really free, no matter how many signs you put out. Someone else will walk in and ask if everything in the store is free.
9. No one buys self-help books if you insist on personal interaction when they pay.
John’s note: When people need help, they want to remain anonymous. Sell your books on Amazon.com.
10. The same is true of sex manuals.
11. Don’t put the sex manuals in a free basket. Parents will show up to protest, not to buy.
12. People who love books don’t write bad checks. Skip the ID.
13. A point about parking lots and beauty shops catering to older people.
14. More people want to sell books than buy them.
John’s note: The same is true about writing. More people want to write books than read them.
15. If you open a store in a college town, you’ll meet some very strange men.
16. Many people think old books are worth money, even more so if they are signed. Not true.
17. Don’t waste your time pricing a signed recent novel higher than a non-signed
18. People use toothpicks, Kleenix, even $50 bills as bookmarks.
19. Religious books given as graduation gifts end up in pristine condition at used bookstores.
20. Only old people read westerns.
21. A surprising number of people will think you’ve read every book in the store and will keep pulling out volumes and asking you what this one is about. These are the people who leave without buying a book, so it’s time to have some fun. Make up plots.
22. People still expect used bookstores to carry new books – and ask for a discount for books that look used.
23. Stock up on mysteries. Everyone loves a mystery.
24. Some people do buy books based on the color of the cover. Books make nice decorative accessories.
25. No matter how well-read you are, you will feel woefully under-read soon after opening your store.
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