Monday, July 21, 2008

Author signings.

Linda and I decided to go for a drive, yesterday. Stopped at the 7/11 and was asked where we were going.

"We're going......" twirling my fingers. "...that way." Found myself pointing south.

Sunriver it was. It's been a long time since I've really driven around that place. More run down that I remember, with smaller units than I remembered (though I saw the richer enclaves from a distance behind the fences.) No lawns, which is really a nice ethos which I hope they keep. I remember when Sunriver consisted of the old lodge (where we used to have our high school Proms) and a few neighborhoods. And apparently you can have any house color you long as it's tan (or a closely toned gray or brown.)

Anyway, checked into the Sunriver bookstore, and was greeted by Connie, (Dave e-musing's wife), who recognized me and Linda, and introduced our 'his and her' bookstores.

I grabbed one of the fancy pens they sell there (Linda and I are both suckers for stationary accouterments) and started stealing ideas.

The upstairs was almost all travel books, which in Sunriver makes sense. The other young lady who was clerking asked if we did Good Sense books, and I said that so far I'm pretty selective. I carry books that are asked for and a little offbeat, and used the example of Chuck Palahniuk.

"Oh, we don't carry him. The owner doesn't like him."

Which sort of surprised me: I don't tend to think I eliminate books based on my own feelings. But, of course, I do. I just don't do it quite so specifically.

One of the first things Connie says is, "You said that you don't believe signing create business....I want you to know that we are going to have 70 people here this afternoon."

I don't remember quite saying that; I mean, it's the kind of thing I could've said, but if I did, I wasn't being as nuanced as I actually think.

Yes, signing can create a good deal of business. But I think I was saying more that the fundamentals need to be in place, first. And that it's a great deal of work. In a sense, you have to have a sort of infrastructure in place -- a certain tone, a certain capacity in inventory and employees and organization. If you have all that in place, and you're are so inclined, I'm sure signing can be a big boost. Just dealing with the visiting writer would seen like a lot of work, however. Dealing with a crowd is not something I like to do. (Not sure about expense.)

If the authors come at their own expense, you've got to be able to convince writers and publishers that it's worth their time.

Anyway, it's not my personal proclivity. I'm interested in the reading, not the listening.

Personally, I think it's a huge effort. I put my efforts into inventory. But I can see how it would be helpful to stores like Sunriver Books, or Paulina Springs, or Camalli.

As we were driving around, I started thinking about the 'Good Sense' program for independent bookstores, and realized I haven't been as nuanced about that as I should, either.

I've said before that I think it makes stores into 'clones.' But that isn't quite right; in a way, the Good Sense program helps independent bookstores find the best books for their kinds of stores.

If I was ordering, say, a hundred books a week, I would need to look at the Good Sense list and the bestseller lists.

But I'm ordering more in the range of 20 or 30 books so far, and that means I can stick to books that have sold and need to be reordered, or my own quirky choices, or books that have reached my attention through recommendations, or rave reviews, or by special request, or just by random browsing.

I'm at an interesting level with new books. They've sold very well, and I'm tempted to really increase my inventory dramatically. But I only have capacity for about maybe twice as many as I currently have, and would like to keep the luxury of filling that capacity with the very best books. Taking my time and hand selecting them.

Besides, I believe I'm selling about as many books as I would even with higher inventory.

But it's very seductive to go crazy and fill every nook and cranny with books. That's my tendency. But I'm fighting it.

I was going to do my taxes yesterday, (2007, don't ask), and so I began digging into the 'box' where I tossed all the receipts throughout the year. I throw away any receipt that was paid for by a check, so half the job is just laying all the bank statements and credit card statements out on the table in sequence.

At the end, I was missing two bank statements, and three credit card statements. Went to the store and grabbed the 2006 box and 2008 box, came back, went through the whole process again, twice, and found all but one of the credit card statements.

Here's where I do the obvious to most of us, but the miraculous to me. I'm able to go online and get a copy, thus saving myself a no doubt frustrating phone call and possible long wait for a hard copy.

Slowly but surely I'm learning stuff.

But I still have to do the damn taxes.

1 comment:

dkgoodman said...

One of the things that's always impressed me about Deon (the co-owner) at Sunriver Books is her passion and memory. Okay, that's two things. Once she realized we were regulars, she remembered our names and what books we read. I think she's read every book in the store, which could explain why she only carries books she likes. When you purchase or ask about a book, she's quick to tell you about other books that you'd probably like. She's often right. :)