Someone will walk into your bookshop today. The first thing they’re going to go for is the whatever you push to the foreground – namely, your new titles and bestsellers.

That’s great of course – but what are you going to do about those other books on the shelves that are no longer new, are being overlooked, and haven’t moved from their place in the last god-knows-how-long? Wouldn’t it be great if you could occasionally push those to the front too? Solve it this way: every month, select a particular theme, gather all the books in your bookstore that fit into your theme, and give them a special space in the middle or at the front of your bookstore.

Let’s say this month, you choose your theme to be… William Shakespeare! I’m pretty sure he takes up a large chunk of space in your literature section anyway, right? But I bet so do the old literature anthologies, books about Shakespearian films, adaptations, and criticisms – add them to your list! Now for the set up – displays are always important, because if you’ve caught the eye, you’ve definitely caught a potential customer. Your display could have frills, or a mannequin dressed up as Shakespeare placed near the table – and get him to hold open a book. Make a foam portrait of him and place it in your window, and perhaps you’d like to have a word bubble coming out of his mouth with something written in Elizabethan English – being unique and creative will always be appreciated. What you should also do is promote your theme by targeting the right people. Are there universities in your area? Schools? Do your research. Send word to the literature departments that you have a special discount on all Shakespeare titles, or that for a limited time you have a special offer (buy three plays and get one free, for example – and remember that offers and discounts always work wonders) and you’ll have students flocking in. What you could also do is speak to someone from the literature or theatre department and ask if they would be willing to come in to your bookstore for a short reading of Shakespearian poetry or part of a play. Maybe you can even get them to dress-up! Set a date and a time and promote it in advance by sending word out to your mailing lists, local newspapers, magazines, or xeroxing the news and distributing it around town.When people come in the night of the reading, be sure to take their contact details and add them to your mailing list

• chances are, they will want to come again, and will certainly do so when you send word of your next event.

The options are endless in terms of your themes – imagine doing all of the above with other figures like Da Vinci, or Van Gogh, or even Tutankhamun! Maybe your themes could be simpler, like cooking, or pet-keeping, or painting. Sometimes, your choices might need a little thinking-ahead – pull out your yearly calendar and like looking for specific national events, holidays, or celebrations. If it’s Christmas, then December is your month to promote books about gift-wrapping, Christmas cooking and Christmas carols and stories, while snazzing up your display with shiny decorations and foam that looks like snow. Easter? Add stuffed bunnies, baskets, and chocolate eggs to your display, making sure everyone gets an egg on the way out. Summer holiday season? Treat your tourists kindly with a colorful selection of guidebooks, national history books, and maps. Valentines Day? This means romance novels galore, books about sensual massages, marital issues, great sex, and relationship guidance, while planting love-hearts everywhere… you get the picture! Start thinking of how to move those old titles forward, what funky themes you think might interest and surprise your customers, how to spruce-up your displays, and always – always! – think ahead.

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