Friday, February 5, 2016

Handselling books and being a bookseller...

So back in October, I started working one day a week in Anderson's Bookshop. Anderson's is a great local indie that everyone should probably visit at least once in their life. The staff loves books and authors and readers. And this is what they talk about most of the day, in their down time, during breaks, to just about anyone who will listen. This probably doesn't surprise people who frequent bookstores, but for those who don't, this is what it's like:

Customer: I'm trying to find something for my 11yo nephew who doesn't like sad stories.
Bookseller 1: Is he a graphic novel kid or will he read other books?
Customer: He loves graphic novels but his mom told me he's read ALL of them.
Bookseller 2: Has he read ROLLER GIRL? Because not a lot of boys have read ROLLER GIRL and it's one of our favorites.
Customer: I don't know. Probably not.
Bookseller 1: He might also like Varian Johnson's TO CATCH A CHEAT. It's funny and you know Varian is going to be here signing on Saturday so you could even have it autographed.
Customer: Really?
Bookseller 2: Yes.

And there you have it. Booksellers who read. People who trust booksellers. And an overall contribution to the business of cultivating readers (which is one of my personal life goals). Which is excellent.

But here's the part I didn't expect, the part where the books I read MATTER and they can impact what other people read in a very real way. And it's not just in the making of window displays celebrating children's book diversity, but it's in the conversations with people who don't know anything about new books (for kids or adults) and want to know what I've read lately and loved. It's also in the conversations with the other staff members suggesting great books for them to read. It is a strange sort of power being on this side of things. Not only because it makes me feel very responsible for being 100% behind the books I'm recommending, but also it makes me want to find hidden gems that maybe aren't getting a big marketing push but are some of the best books I've read in the past year. It makes me want to be a thoughtful reader and consider different audiences who may appreciate things that are usually outside my interest. It makes me want to read widely in different genres.

So the next time you go into your local indie, ask the booksellers there questions. Even if they don't know the answer, they often know which of their colleagues will know the answer. I may not be able to recite great books about lawyers off the top of my head, but I for sure know who at Anderson's will and have no problem reaching out to them. I can't think of a better reason to show independent bookstores.

The "Love...Or Not" bookshelf I helped put together

A window display celebrating diverse children's literature that I made

1 comment:

  1. Ah, this is so cool! I knew indie bookstores were like this! (but wasn't sure if it were just some sort of romantic idea I had) I really want to work in a bookstore *sigh*