Where have we been?
Well, as some of you might have figured out, we used to work for Borders. Last year we went to BEA together for the first time! I know!! Ash has been pretty consistent with her attendance and always found new and interesting titles to bring me back since not everyone could leave the store for the better part of a week. Last year, I got to experience it first hand. However, while we there we started to get the distinct feeling that the industry knew something our own company was hiding from us. We decided that by the new year we would be out of a job. None of our co-workers believed us. Unfortunately, it was sooner than that. Some of our friends heard us talking about it and have been inspired by what we think book selling needs to become and are making it happen. You can follow them and help make their dreams come true by checking them out on indiegogo.
Where to go from here?
Well, we got new jobs with another book chain in October and have been settling into their groove. We also just got home with suitcases full of new and new-to-be books to read and share with all of you. That being said, the real question is: Where will book stores be in the next few years? Probably not anything like you see now. I like my current paycheck and therefore won't reveal where we're at, but they're all flawed. Here's why: They want every store to be a cookie cutter. "So what?" you might say. "I like going into my local branch and one on vacation and being able to find things in roughly the same place." Awesome. It does help. However, have you noticed the diminishing one-on-one customer service industry wide? Yeah, we have too. There's nothing wrong with the chain mentality. I like the company I work for better than the rest that are out there. Which is why I took their offer over the others. However, what works in Manhattan doesn't work in Los Angeles and what works in Georgia doesn't work the same in Ohio. It just doesn't. The smart chain is going to treat each store like a franchise. Have a core set of values/rules/conditions/whatever, but let each location cater to its audience.
The cards should stop too. EVERYWHERE. And not just at bookstores. Personally, I lose them every time. Got a plus card from Borders before it launched to the public. Couldn't find it the next week. My local CVS knows me enough to just ask for my phone number. They're overwhelming to the customer at large and NOT why they came into the store in the first place. Do I do my best to be one of the best at selling them where I work? You bet your bottom dollar! And for the record, I am pretty good at doing so. Would I rather concentrate on the customer's needs and desires and not my corporate office's? Wouldn't we all? Look, the best bookseller in the best bookstore will do what it takes to keep doing what they
Why keep doing it?
I love what I do. Plus, unlike a lot of booksellers out there, I got the chance to start this blog with one of my best friends. So, even if it's an awful day at work, we get to come home and share new authors and titles with all of the world. If we didn't have to punch the clock and could just do this, we might. We also might miss getting to see a person's face light up when you find just the book they came in for OR tell them about a great new book/series we just started/finished that we think will be the next "big thing". (Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl, imho)
What's the new resolve?
To get back to telling the world about our loves, our passions, our amazing friends. We will be blogging more. We will be sharing what we're reading more. It's in the blood, can't seem to shake it. Will there be the occasional rant? I'm sure there will be. Thanks for letting me get my newest insights out there, by the way. And a special thanks if you've gotten this far. Now go support your local booksellers, be they an independent start-up or a part of a big chain. Let them know you care. Don't have one? Why are you reading a book review blog then? ;-) If you like, follow @The_Ceilidh on twitter, or find them on Facebook & on indiegogo. The girls there would love the love.
(This post in no way reflects Ashlen's perspective that I know of. All opinions blasted here are mine and mine alone. Well, maybe some parts of the publishing world's too. Or at least that's my impression from this past week)