a new bookstore is getting ready to open. We join Laurelle Swan and her weeks leading up to the big day.
Four Weeks Before Opening…
While brodarting at 5:30 am this morning, already well into my second cup of coffee, I found myself thinking – what HAVE I gotten myself into?
I’m a rational person. I’ve always played it safe, taken minimal risks, paid my bills on time, put some money aside. Raised in New England I’ve absorbed the puritanical notion that fun must be bad, hard work is its own reward, and you shouldn’t expect to enjoy work, after all, then it wouldn’t be work, right?
My last day at my paying job – in a career I’ve had for 30 years – is tomorrow. I’m taking the plunge and have signed a lease to open a collectible bookstore, Swan’s Fine Books. I alternate between ecstasy and stark, bone-chilling dread. What was I thinking? How will I ever categorize and shelve 6,500 books in the next four weeks, by opening day on May 1? Oops, wait. I can’t even start for two weeks, for my 43 bookcases won’t be delivered until the second week of April. OK – so, how will I categorize and shelve 6,500 books in two weeks, once the bookcases arrive?
And who ever decided that credits and debits need to match? And why is a bank deposit referred to as a debit? Accounting was clearly created by Satan. How will I ever run a business if I can’t get simple credits and debits straight in my mind?
Six months ago, my boyfriend and I were buying used books as a lark and Swan’s Fine Books was a dream. I’ve been passionate about old books since I was a small child, and he surprised me on my birthday with a 1751 set of Alexander Pope. Holding Volume 5 in my hands, I turned to him and, in almost hushed tones, said “do you realize that these were printed before the Revolutionary War?”. He became as hooked as I am.
We admit it. We have a passion for the books themselves. We talk about “saving” them, and “finding the right owner”. (Admit it, you’ve done the same thing.) We’re addicted to the thrill of finding treasures at estate sales. We’re live for the arcane discussions we have with fellow book-sellers about first edition points. We’re purchasing bibliographies at an alarming rate.
And I’ve never been happier. In every independent bookshop we visit, we see customers browsing; more and more articles are talking about the “resurgence of the indies”. I firmly believe I can tackle debits and credits, learn the first edition points, and get those books shelved. I believe that there are many others out there who love books – for the world we enter when caught up in reading the printed words, as well as the amazing experience of literally holding history in our hands – and often being lovely works of art as well, one has all three at the same time.
Wish me well, fellow book-lovers. And proffer any suggestions you may have for categorizing at Swan’s Fine Books. Quickly.