Goodreads vs. Storygraph: Which is the Better Book Platform?

If you’re a reader, you are probably well familiar with Goodreads. Since 2006, Goodreads has been the most popular and widely used platform for readers to track what books they have read, books they want to read, and a way for them to connect with fellow book lovers. Other book platforms similar to Goodreads have … Read more

Tricks and Treats

by Jas Faulkner If you’re reading this not long after it was written (October 31st, 2013)  you have probably seen the many reports about an anonymous woman in North Dakota who declared that she was indeed passing out candy, but not to children she deemed “moderately obese”.  They would get letters addressed to their parents … Read more

Subculture Spoken Here! (Hint: They read! You can sell them books!)

by Jas Faulkner Fifteen years ago I was browsing in the graphic novels section at Media Play, a now-defunct retailer in Madison, Tennessee.  I had just picked up a trade paperback of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, when a young girl who had stepped up to look through the same shelves said, “That’s a good one.” … Read more

Shipping Large Boxes of Books

Shipping Large sets of books – Protecting your self, your books and your customer

(similar to the books sold)

A few years ago I got an order for a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica 1910 / 1911 edition. This was a nice set of books. An employee and I wrapped the books two at a time in Kraft paper and put the books into 75-pound test boxes I had obtained from Staples. The books were well wrapped and we padded the sides so that the books would not shift. The boxes were sealed securely with 2” wide shipping tape. I had no doubt that the packages would arrive in good shape at their destination. About 2 weeks after I shipped the books I got e-mail from the customer stating that he had not received his books and instead had received empty boxes that were crushed and mangled.

I sent the books with delivery confirmation and it was easy to track the shipment on the USPS web site. The tracking information showed that the books had arrived at their destination on (I am doing this from memory) on day in early September and had immediately been delivered. I wondered how this could occur. I did some investigating and found that the book had been shipped to a US Embassy on the Texas / Mexico border. Apparently the books had been delivered to the Post Office and immediately placed into the mail hoppers provided by the Embassy. Several days later the Embassy mailroom delivered the empty boxes to my customer.

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Facebook and Customer Communication

This week Circle City Books and Music became the unexpected recipient of more Facebook attention than Tom Cruise’s date registry. Does that sound like an exaggeration? I suppose. But when, on Wednesday, the turnstiles started clicking faster than I could keep up, that’s how it seemed. We created our Facebook page August 1 and after five weeks, thanks to a large and indulgent family and several friends,  31 people had “Liked” us; fewer than one per day. Then Wednesday hit and in the space of about six hours 27 new people, mostly strangers, were added to our “Like” roster.

There is a lot about Facebook that I don’t understand. How is it that for weeks virtually no one had visited the Circle City page, then, all of a sudden, cascades of new people appear on the site? I know 27 people won’t exactly crash anyone’s server, but for us it was a 2700 percent increase in daily traffic. If your 401K had that kind of one day increase, you’d notice it. But does it mean anything? Are these future customers or are they the inhabitants of the online world and, as such, Amazon shoppers? And where do they get off calling this thing a ‘book’? A book is a tangible object with a finite and measurable mass; Facebook is the opposite of that.

In any case, after the initial shock wore off, I tried to take advantage of this apparent interest in our store before these disembodied souls had time to dissolve into cyberspace never to be heard from again. I posted a community survey, asking the community to tell me what they like to read. What genres, what books, what authors. This is something that couldn’t have been done 30 years ago when I was last in the bookselling business. But if 30 people tell me now, as one respondent already has, that they want “science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and horror,” that will certainly change my approach to book buying.

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Is Free Help in the Bookshop Wise?

After church this past Sunday, a 15-year-old girl came to me and asked, “Do you allow free help in your stores?”
I told her, “I’ll think about it.” Consequently, it made me think about a number of times I’ve been asked that same question in the past. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, even if you know the individual who is interested. Yes, you can allow a friend to come spend their off hours shelving books in your store. Yes, you can have a good time while they are there, enjoying each other’s company while being doubly productive due to the extra help. But, then there’s the practical side: What happens if they promise to come help, you prepare jobs for them, and they don’t show up one day? Will they expect some sort of compensation by way of a discount on books, a gift card for the store, etc? Will they know how to deal with customers who assume your volunteer is a paid, knowledgeable employee?

It’s almost easier and less hassle to pay someone a set wage for a set number of hours. Free isn’t always free… especially if they cost you sales. Will they know how to defer to customers who are perusing the shelves? Will they move out of the way?

All of these questions come up because we’ve had many paid employees yet we’ve also had a few freebies. The pro bono help has been good overall. However, we had a few times where someone promised to come shelve books and straighten our toy shelves, yet they didn’t come when expected. So, we got backed up in our staging area. I had to pay extra hours to other workers just to cover the backlog of books that needed to be shelved. Then, the free help would show up unexpectedly… after everything had been done. At that point, we need to find work for them… taking time away from our current job to do so.

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