One Month In and New Bookshop Doing Well

Tomorrow begins the second month of Circle City Books’ existence. That’s the day on which I change the coding that I assign to every book when I price it. Until now, I’ve coded all my books “CC1” indicating that the book went on the shelf during the store’s first month. Starting tomorrow, and lasting for another month, the coding will be “CC2.” At some point I suppose, books that have been on the shelf too long will be sentenced to some kind of punishment: the bargain bin, execution, maybe a pep talk. In any case, the end of my first month finds the store still in business, and doing better than I expected.  (I admit to low expectations.)

we're open signThe time change has revealed to me a heretofore unknown problem. When the sun sets at 5:00 p.m., it means that the last hour and a half of business passes with my store cloaked in darkness. When I first opened it was light until closing time. But I have no neon light; no flashing sign; no spotlight illuminating my storefront. I do have lights in the window, but even with those on, it is surprising how dark the store looks from the street. People driving by wouldn’t know I am open. So this is one of the things that I overlooked. Sometime soon I’ll have to correct that.

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Walls & Wallaces: Author Reading and a New Mural

Daniel Wallace arrived at Circle City Books Saturday afternoon and kept an audience spellbound with an artful reading of the first chapter of his new book, The Kings and Queens of Roam. Wallace’s appearance as the chief feature of our Grand Opening was a complete sensation for several reasons. First of all, if an author has a distinctive voice, and Wallace does, he can suffuse a reading with the inflection and tone the story requires. Second, he has a gift for inviting an audience into his world and making it feel welcome. And third, his writing, wry and ironic, smoothly unfolding in bold, picturesque sentences, sparkles when read aloud. The result was an audience eager for more but facing a six-month wait until the book is finally released. When it comes out this spring, it will likely catch the slipstream of the new musical adaptation of “Big Fish” that hits Broadway in May. I was loaned Wallace’s galley and though I haven’t finished it, I’ve read enough to know I won’t be the only reader enthralled by it.

Otherwise, the success of our opening was mostly due to my wife, Virginia, who organized the whole day. She solicited local businesses that generously contributed 25 door prizes, and is still notifying the winners. She ordered 20 new copies of “Big Fish” for the signing, but on Thursday it seemed impossible that they would arrive on time. Because of the hurricane, the shipping center in New Jersey was shut down Tuesday and Wednesday, though UPS wasn’t picking up in New Jersey anyway. But, somehow, the books made good time on Thursday and arrived here Friday. In the end, everyone who wanted one got a signed book.

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Pittsboro Bookshop is Now Open

I opened the door and people materialized – right before my eyes. It was surprising, like when I spent three hours putting together a remote controlled plane for my son and the thing actually flew! Our first customer browsed, then several hours later returned and bought a $50 Far Side cartoon collection. The actual first sale was a first edition of Annie Dillard’s “The Maytrees,” followed by Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.” We sold a biography of Richard III, William Manchester’s “The Power and the Glory,” Gunter Grass, Shel Silverstein, H.G. Wells… well, I shouldn’t try to list every book, but I was strangely affected by every sale. Many of the books were titles that I had picked out myself, believing they were books that someone would want, or at least that they were books that I thought someone should want. And when they sold, I felt gratified, like when you pick a horse and it wins the derby. And I was gratified to hear so many customers express their excitement about having a bookstore in town.  And I was surprised by the number of people that came in not knowing that we were a new store. These were people passing through Pittsboro who stopped because they saw the large “BOOKS” sign that we hung outside, as a placeholder until our real sign arrives.

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