With the news that another indie bookstore is closing — Peterborough’s Titles Bookstore — a reader’s heart breaks. It’s not just the loss of yet another bookstore, but a long term conversation between booksellers, readers, publishers and writers that, in this case, extended almost twenty-five years. (Until the end of May 2012.)
When I was a publicist, I was taught to respect and revere the independent bookseller. There are accounts and there are relationships. Accounts push product. Relationships fuel our industry.
To be clear, every bookstore closure is the loss of an integral relationship. We all suffer.
And if it’s true that the average reader needs to hear about a book seven-eleven times before picking it up, we need this level of care for always, not just more than ever.
Indie booksellers, put plainly, are a reader’s/writer’s/publisher’s “man on the ground”.
They use to perform the same function for the media.
Did you know that before BookNet Canada started gathering sales data, and bookstores started volunteering sales data, the average bestseller list was curated via phone calls and emails? Editors would touch base with booksellers to ask, “What’s selling?” Not the truest data, but let’s focus on the conversation, because it’s a nice one to think about.
The Globe and Mail: “Where’s the number for [insert indie bookseller here] . . . Never mind! I got it!” *ring* *ring*
The Globe and Mail: “‘sup? What’s sellin’?”
Bookseller: “Hey! I’ve been waiting for your call, ’cause, you know, [insert season or reason here] must be in the air, because we just cannot keep [insert title here] on the shelves. It’s really quite remarkable! Selling like hotcakes, like crocheted doilies at a church bazaar, like Slushies in Hell—”
The Globe and Mail: “Got it.”
So. I’m placing the call.
Starting Tuesday, May 1 at 2 p.m. ET, I’ll have a weekly chat on Twitter with an indie bookseller to ask: “What’s selling?”
Other questions will include some or all of the following:
“What’s a comparable title?”
“Do you have any events coming up you’d like the kids to know about?”
“What’s good supplementary reading for Fifty Shades of Grey?”
“I’m heading into the desert on a horse with no name. Quick, what book should I bring?”
We’re using the hashtag #indiebooksellers. Join the conversation!
See you Tuesday! #indiebooksellers