My Life in Bookstores
My friend Rachel came up with this idea to share with all of you some of my experiences in my literary life. My first post was about my involvement in book clubs and at that time, I introduced to all of you my current book club, The Ladies Book Club.
Today I wanted to write a little about my career in and love for bookstores. With the current trend in e-readers, the always steady rise of Amazon and the closing of over 200 brick and mortar Borders stores, I felt it was fitting to talk about the wonderful years I spent selling books.
For those new to my blog, I will start by telling you all that I worked for 11 years in a bookstore. I have never disclosed who or what or where because, to me, a bookstore is a bookstore. No, they are not all the same but they should all have the same purpose; to place a good book in the hands of readers. It didn't matter to me to say which one I worked at but that I loved what I did.
First off, when I started in bookselling, I knew nothing about books. I thought I did and I even thought I knew what a passionate reader was. I was wrong. I not only learned a ton about the product of books but I met so many wonderful people who could talk my ear off for hours about their love of reading.
I was in heaven!
Very early on in my career in books, I became a book buyer. I was outgoing, friendly, bubbly and full of spunk, I was told. The powers that be thought I would be great out in the community and working with publishers. Um, okay?! Let's go. I used my lack of knowledge at that time and my ability to schmooze to begin my partnership with the publishing world. I lived in Boston then and I was taken in by so many wonderful local, small publishers. Oh the excitement they had when I asked them about their books! They were more than happy to put their books on my shelves. and I was more than happy to help them.
From this early start I learned that without one, there can not be the other. Without publishers and writers, there would be no books; without books, there would be no readers; without readers to buy those books, there would be no bookstores.
There is nothing like working at a bookstore, especially when your passion is books. I would wake excited to go to work, excited to see the new books that would come in, excited to talk to my co-workers about what they were reading, and excited to talk to customers about books they SHOULD read!
It was hard work that required muscle, time management, attention to detail and good service skills. It was fun to figure out what books were it, what books to recommend, what the latest wave would be. It was fun working with publishers on the early buzz of a book or getting a great book in for a display.
A bookstore is like a second home to some and to be able to work happily in them for as long as I did makes me feel incredibly grateful. Books are not just retail and unfortunately, some people treat it as such. Unfortunately, the wave of business in general forces the customer to be less than friendly because they want that "best deal" and they want it now.
I'm not naive to think that the atmosphere of some brick and mortar bookstores has changed through the years. It has had to, just like any business. But they are not ready to go away. We as readers have to fight to keep that alive. Big box or independent, the individuals that work selling books should be supported. To be able to pull a great book off the shelf and place it in the hands of a customer and look them in the eye and tell them why that book is your favorite is a simply marvelous experience. I could tell when I made that connection. I could tell when I got through.
It felt right. It felt like the right place to be for me. I miss it.
I spent my 11 years in bookstores moving from buyer to manager. Though being a manager was hard at times, it made me understand the business of bookselling a lot better. That's why I stand by the much needed support for the lasting booksellers at the brick and mortar stores.
Though I have moved on to this blog and to the world of libraries, I still carry that passion inside of me, that desire to recommend and talk to people about books. I just feel more comfortable around people who love books as much as I do. For 11 years, I never felt out of place, like I didn't belong. Through changing business and rough economy, the people and motivation around me remained the same. Great people. Great books.
Maybe this post does not go into the detail I originally had in mind to discuss about life at a bookstore. Maybe because it always boils down to the passion for me and that all came out as a typed.
I loved my time working at a bookstore. It has made me who I am today; the person, the reader, the recommender.
Do me a tiny little favor. Support all bookstores, independent and big box. Support the booksellers that open those boxes, stock those shelves, make those fun displays, write out passionate Staff Recommendation cards, and read furiously on their lunch breaks.
Imagine me with my crazy big hair (pictured above), jazz hands and excitement as the bookseller near you while you browse. I just might say, "Looks like you may need a wonderful book to read. Perhaps I can recommend a few?!!"
I thank you for reading my ramblings on my life in bookstores. It became a passionate pile of mushiness but alas, that's how I feel when I enter those doors; doors to any bookstore, that is.
Happy Reading dear readers, and as always, thanks for stopping by!
red headed book child