Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If I owned a bookstore...


My friends have always asked me, "So when are you going to have your own bookstore?" I've always replied, "Soon." But honestly, who am I kidding? With this economy, opening a bookstore is the quickest way to bankruptcy. As if people are buying books left and right.

It's still a nice thought though -- being the one to open the shop, check the stocks, talk to customers, recommend books to them, and close the shop with a satisfied feeling at the end of the day. And I love the idea that I'm the one in control of what books to sell.

I feel, however, that I wouldn't be making any money from running my own bookstore. For one, I wouldn't dream of having these books in my shelves:
  • All the Twilight novels and those YA vampire lit
  • Anything by John Grisham and Danielle Steele
  • Manga
  • Those cheesy, over-the-top Jane Austen spin-offs
On second thought, I may as well stock up on these books I've mentioned. When the customer isn't looking, I'll take out that Twilight in the paperbag and replace it with The Historian or Dracula. I'll switch the Jane Austen spin-off with the real thing. Hmmmm...

How about you, dear reader? If you were to run your own bookstore, what books would you sell? Which books would you avoid getting?

45 comments:

Portobello's coffee said...

One thing that drives me crazy about our local bookstores is how they shrink-wrap all their books in plastic! Sometimes when you do try to open them, the sales staff would give you a dirty look. While I do understand it's for the good of the merchandise, I find this practice very unwelcoming and unfriendly.

If I owned a bookstore, this wouldn't happen. Eingeverything would be unwrapped for all to browse freely!

Peter S. said...

Hello, portobello's coffee! I have a love-hate thing with shrink wrap. On the one hand, as you said, it limits your browsing capabilities. On the other hand, our climate isn't really that good on books. Yes, bookstores are airconditioned when they're open, but when they're closed, the humidity would put a toll on the books. Somehow, the shrink wrap extends the life of these books.

StephanieD said...

I would open a children's book store and hire the friends I made while I worked for Borders. Despite some of the horrors that come with working in retail - we were a merry bunch.

Vivienne said...

My shop would also sell tea and cupcakes. I want people to browse and be encouraged to spend more!

Jaime said...

I would open a used book store that hosted book clubs, games, themes (i.e., Jane Austen nights, Fantasy/Sci Fi, etc) and sold coffee/tea/snacks etc. Bread and butter is usually in the real bread and butter.

I would probably have a group of hecklers to boo those who bring in Twilight. LOL.

I would have an uber cool used bookstore. Tis the dream at least.

Peter S. said...

@StephanieD: I'd love to hear about your horror stories while you worked in a bookstore.

@Vivienne: I hope those cupcakes are as gorgeous as the ones featured in your blog!

@Jaime: You have a very fun concept!

Logan said...

No Twilight, Grisham, or Manga? You might as well locate your bookstore in the mouth of a volcano and hand out Nazi propoganda to customers...!

josbookshelf said...

Peter, you're naughty. If ever buy from your bookstore, I'd check my bag twice! Heaven knows what you're going to put in there when I'm in the mood for some tacky lit! (like: X-rated Bloodsuckers--which I have, btw. Hee haw!)

If I had my own bookstore, I'd still sell all those Twilight books, John Grisham novels, Jane Austen wanna-bes, and yes, X-rated Bloodsuckers! They sell loads and I wanna be rich! So I can get meself a real nice library. LOL!

Cynewyn said...

@Peter: speaking of the great JA, how's things going with Pride & Prejudice? Haven't seen that review yet...;-)

line of flight said...

a regularly recurring fantasy

Lula O said...

I'm so with you on the YA vampire books. Ugh.

And I guess the Jane Austen fan fic too.

But then what will people read?
The classics???
Perish the thought.

Diane said...

I'll be your business partner as I wouldn't carry those either, and may I add: all romance novels would be banned...LOL

Peter S. said...

@Logan: I guess the only justification to that would be there are already lots of bookstores carrying those titles. I just want my bookstore to be different.

@Josbookshelf: You're quite the businesswoman! Hehehe. I don't think I can stand seeing lots of those books every day.

@Cynewyn: It's coming along. Making steady progress.

@line of flight: Yup.

@Lula O: I never knew that you also didn't like those YA vampire fiction.

@Diane: All romance novels! My goodness!

mel u said...

If I owned a book store I would restrict sales on anything racist -otherwise I would sell anybooks the public wanted-I would have a monthly promotional section where I tried to push books I admire-I would have a free frequent buyer club-maybe buy ten or 20 books and you get one of a certain price free-I like to buy books that have been shrink wrapped as they seem more sanitary-

Peter S. said...

Hi, Mel! I bet you were surprised that bookstores in Manila shrink wrap their books.

mel u said...

Yes I was at first annoyed by the shrink wraps on the books in Manila Book Stores-now I kind of like it as it means the book I buy has, hopefully, been handled by fewer people-the only time I ask them to open a book is when I am not sure if it a translated work or if it is abridged (I hate abridged books!)

Peter said...

Hello, Mel! I think the only persons who truly appreciate abridged books are high school students who don't have the patience to go through the complete text.

mel u said...

Maybe HS students are the ones who buy Classic Comics!-

Melissa (My World) said...

Hmmm, I guess I would have to sell all kinds of books just to try to make a buck. As you said it is hard to do in the economic times we have, everyone wants the big store and discounts (me included). But, I think I may not sell non-fiction books that are not happy and fun. I think you should read for fun and pure enjoyment. Some Non-fiction seems to make me down. I hope people would enjoy and be happy or escape for just a little while from this possibly dreary world we live in everyday. All the bad news on the news.

StephanieD said...

Peter- You've just inspired me to write a future post on the joys (there are some) and travails of being a bookseller.

bookjourney said...

Great question Peter! I always have dreamed of owning a book store with a coffee/sandwich shop on the second floor.

In this "vision" I am always wearing long flowing dresses or smart looking black pants... (I go for the whole picture - not just the books...LOL)

As for the books.... hmmm... the classics will hold a special spot as after all, they are the greats.

the geek said...

but i read steel...

i also read kostova's the historian.

what will it make me?

Something's Dishy said...

My bookstore will be small and cozy with a little cafe with coffee and cakes. And yes, Twilight books will be banned, as well as Steele and other cheesy romance novels. Only literature, classics, children's classics, and non-fiction.

By the way Peter, where did you get your The Ask and the Answer copy? I can't find it anywhere!

Peter S. said...

@Melissa: I think you'd make a great bookseller!

@StephanieD: Oh, I can't wait to read that. Can I link to it if you've posted it?

@bookjourney: Sheila, I think I'll have an extensive collection of classics in my bookstore.

@the geek: One eclectic reader! Just like the thousands of us!

@Something's Dishy: I got it in Fully Booked. By the way, your dream bookstore sounds wonderful!

stacybuckeye said...

It is a dream of mine to open my own bookstore. My husband is a smart risk taker, so I think it could happen at some point. I love the books you wouldn't stock. Especially since I just read a Grisham, my third one is 2 years and the third one I rated average. Why would I keep reading average books? I don't even recommmend them to my friends so why would I take the time to read them myself?

Charlie said...

Unfortunately, the current trash the other commenters mentioned are the only books that are really selling. Around here, the classics and neo-classics gather dust on the shelves.

As far as the shrink-wrapped books, why don't the stores unwrap one copy for browsers; later on, they could put them on a bargain table.

Nevertheless, I share all of your dreams of having my own store, and I even checked it out in the mid-70s!

Jaime said...

Ya know, this has me thinking. With the bubble of ereaders and the possibility of the future phasing the mass production of books out, I am going to have a warehouse packed to the brim with hardcover books so that way they become collector's items and I will be the underground smokey back alley dealer of *gasp* paper books and I will be having tables of *another jaw dropping moment* REAL board games and card games, no computerized. I will have people coming for their fix to handle and smell a real book and offering me massive amounts of cash to put the vintage copy Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian or even the entire Shannara series on their shelves. Muhahahahahahaa.. the planning begins.

LOL. I guess I will be dead by the time that moment arrives, huh? Oh well, see this is why I love Sci Fi and Fantasy..

Jaime said...

Paperbacks will be the new crack... bwahahahahahahaha..

I need to stop.. good night! Thanks for the fun!

Peter said...

@stacybuckeye: Why indeed? I guess, you never can tell how a book would go unless you've actually finished it. Don't feel bad about reading "average" books. Most of us do read them.

@Charlie: Some bookstores do that -- having one open copy. Some bookstores also encourage their customers to tear off the shrink wrap to browse the books.

@Jaime: You have such funny ideas! But you know what, I think you have something there. In a few years, most people would be having e-readers, so I guess people would be handling fewer books.

Sumthinblue said...

I'd love to open a Picture Book bookstore. Just picture books, both for kids and adults :)

Petunia said...

The onwer of my local used bookstore says he thought it was a cool idea too until the shop opened. Then he realized that it was more like a ball and chain. He only gets one day off a week and he hasn't had a vacation in years. But most of his business comes from Ebay and Amazon which allows him to keep his shop open in the downtown area. I think I would be content just to work at a bookstore.

Peter said...

@Sumthinblue: Oh, a picture book bookstore! I am loving the idea!

@Petunia: Oh my goodness! I never knew that running a bookstore is that demanding!

Krista said...

You mayde me laugh so hard when you said no YA Twilight stuff LOL :)

Jaime said...

Peter, I actually am thinking that it's really not too farfetched either. I was reading the number of sales on the debut of Dan Brown's newest craptastic book, and nearly 1/2 of the sales were EBooks. The opening day sales, mind you, didn't include preorders from fans, bookstores, etc. So, I might seriously do that with new releases. STill buy them used but seriously. As the younger generation starts fading out books to ebooks, us old school book nerds will be needing our paper fix. Honestly, I tried to whole ereader thing and couldn't get rid of the Kindle fast enough. I like curl up with my book, fall asleep with it (haha, I have though!) and flip back and forth to the cover art.

Down with E Readers! LOL

Peter S. said...

@Krista: It's just personal preference. Hehehe. I guess I'm sick of seeing Twilight in bookstores. And it doesn't help that Twilight is the first thing I see when I enter a bookstore.

@Jaime: You should do a post on your blog about this! Your thoughts and ideas are just too precious!

Krista said...

Oh, I totally get it :) We could have like a Strike against Twilight, however, we might be the only ones there ;) Plus, we'd get trampled by screaming Edward and Jacob Fans... LOL!

Peter S. said...

Krista, you just gave me an idea for something! Hehehe.

Mark David said...

LOL! What I want isn't a bookstore but a big library... and to not have to work so that I can just spend my days reading there ;)

I read Twilight last year because I got hooked up on the character of Alice (I just thought she was adorable). But yes, there's no way you can consider Meyer's vampire saga for literary merit. It's a bestseller though, and a major hit with the girls (often the type who don't read literary fiction anyway). I guess for some that's what matters more anyway. We can dish out all these YA books all we want, but lets face it, they really sold out. In the Philippines, especially, what you need is to "tickle" the fancy of the masses :)

If I ever become an author though (LOL! I like to daydream, even at night), I'd go for literary acclaim over sales anytime.

PS: I'm watching Vampire Diaries these days, and boy is the story way much much better. The plot is certainly thicker and a lot more things make sense (uhm, does it make sense that I'd say that about a fantasy story? LOL!). There's also a rumor that Meyer copied ideas from that book, and I certainly see now where it's coming from.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Mark David! I am curious about that show. I've even seen the books, but I don't even bother to pick them up since I'm suffering from vampire saturation. Hmmm... perhaps I'll give those books a try if the story is indeed better.

Mark David said...

Oh I don't think I'll ever give the books a try though cause I'm not really a fan of gothic/fantasy when its in books. I suppose having read Twilight is enough for me. I'll just stick with the tv show.

scribesexpress said...

As a kid, I had dreams of opening up a relatively quiet business; and I actually considered opening up a bookstore.

Yup, it's not advisable opening up a bookstore with our economic condition (and the literary condition of society). Basically, small bookstores would have a difficult time competing against all those big bookstores. For now, I'll just keep on reading and collecting.

I wouldn't choose which books to exclude and recommend. Everyone has different tastes in literary genres. I would, however, retail those hard-to-find books not being offered in big bookshops. This would give me a chance to secure larger portions of the market (business-minded, 'no?) When given the chance, I would recommend my favorite authors (A. Christie, N. Marsh, M. Albom, E. Bombeck, and P. Coelho) and my fav genres (detective fiction, satire/humor, and middle-aged fiction).

On one point, I think I would consider not getting the Twilight and the Harry Potter series... I would get manga, though.

artseblis said...

i can't open a bookstore. i wouldn't be able give up the books ;P. but i'd love to hang out in all the bookstores mentioned here.

Peter S. said...

@scribesexpress: Thanks for dropping by! I love reading your thoughts about your dream bookstore. I can't still get myself to read manga though.

@artseblis: LOL. I'd love to make you my business partner!

scribesexpress said...

Eh-he-he-he!

Hi artseblis!

Thanks for considering me as a business partner. I also love hanging out around bookstores or book cases, especially those that are so high and are filled with old-looking books.

Thomas said...

Goodness, I guess with 44 comments this post really struck a chord with your readers like it has for me. In fact I may have to blog about it at some point.

I think my bookstore would have to be secondhand books. My focus would be fiction but I would have other sections like history, travel, etc. just so that it had a little more depth.

And while there are plenty of genres and categories of books that I would shy away from the only one that I would ban outright from day one would be Self-Help books. What a waste of time.