Create some momentum with a well planned event

I’ve spent the last three years at Joseph-Beth Booksellers coveting “indie bookstore moments.” You know them — the first time a local Dungeons & Dragons group sets up shop, the first time a customer hugs you because they absolutely loved your last recommendation, the first time you get a handwritten thank you from a five-year-old. … Read more

What worked and what didn't in the bookshop, 2009 edition

Thanks to a snowstorm and a fairly quiet day at the store, I was able to sneak into my office to begin sorting out the holiday piles. As I crunched numbers, I looked closely at the figures in front of me and realized we had a pretty good holiday season after all. It wasn’t just reflected in the sales sheets, either. The large pre-holiday crowds were, for the most part, happy with our selections, pleased with our customer service, and open to suggestions. Our booksellers, while welcoming the slow Monday after Christmas, were happy it was over but were telling more stories of the fun we had versus the Grinches we encountered. I looked over my cluttered desk and started to make two more piles…

What Worked in the Bookshop

1. The Best of 2009 display – We chose titles strictly on sales and focused on those that sold particularly well during Father’s and Mother’s Day. We ended up with a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction, mostly paperbacks, and things that we already had a good stack of because of their consistent sell-through. Everything was faced out on an endcap, about 40 titles altogether. We put up “filler” signage on each shelf that was no bigger than an index card-sized shelftalker because we had printer problems the week we put up the display. When sales were over $1000 within the first three days, we decided to save our ink and let the display run itself.

2. New York Times Top 100 display – Thanks to Twitter, I had this list in my hands within minutes of its online posting. We quickly set to work checking inventory – turned out we were only missing eleven of the 100 titles. We also had two local authors on the list (which created instant foot traffic). We used bright green shelftalkers to highlight the titles throughout the store and then created an endcap of titles that weren’t already on other displays. We put a small sign on the front and back doors announcing that we had the books; sales were instantaneous. The Sunday NYT book review is second in popularity only to Cleveland Plain Dealer reviews – we put up separate displays for the Top Ten, and put the PD top twenty up two weeks later. (slatwall displays these nicely)

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