Posts Tagged Frustration
As an independent bookseller, I’m not the wealthiest guy on the block. My family stays clothed and fed, but we’re not vacationing in the Hamptons anytime soon. What moves me most about book conferences? Free stuff.
I get to stay at hotels I could never afford on my own, hotels with ocean views, clean towels, and cable TV. I’m clothed in clever promotional t-shirts. I get canvas carrying bags in all shapes and sizes. I’m taken out for drinks and dinner.
Best of all, SIBA feeds me. Books, books, so many books. We drove back from Daytona with the trunk riding low.
I’m not a troll, though. You know who I mean; the signs “FOR DISPLAY ONLY” were made for these light-fingered, determined folks. They frown all day, never speak to anyone, carry cardboard boxes around, and make runs between the show floor and their hotel room the entire time it’s open, taking anything and everything that’s not nailed down. I only select books I know I’ll read and love, or that someone else will read and love.
Meeting the various reps who I’ve been emailing and speaking with on the phone for six years was a delight. Our virtual selves have always been polite and professional, but it’s nice to finally meet and talk about books. I discovered a distributor of Florida books I’m always struggling to keep in stock, some extremely cool toddler bikes made of wood, and the joys of Edelweiss.
Meeting the publishers we struggle to order from was eye-opening. They answer to auditors and shareholders who could care less why an account with $15,000 in credit is holding $15, 127 worth of books, regardless of whether that account is current. The process is aggravating for everyone, but the frustration expressed is not a fiduciary one – it’s about not being able to get books into readers’ hands. Making new models for ordering books, much like Alfred Knopf did during the Great Depression when he started the whole consignment thing, is a tentative step toward getting publisher’s books in the stores, into bookseller’s hands, and ultimately allowing those stories to find their readers.
I love talking authors and readings with other booksellers. I love sharing ideas to help other stores who are just coming up, and taking their ideas back to my own store. I love being in a place where the excitement of finding a new storyteller, or a new story from a favorite voice, far outweighs the concerns over where the business is headed.
More than anything, I love being in a place where you can geek out on book love and no one looks at you funny.
Read more from bookseller Aaron Curtis here: