How To Be A Bookseller, Inspired by Bernard Black

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Lawrence Hammar, owner of Blue Jacket Books, who epitomizes a great bookseller–nothing like those in this post!

Bookriot posted a hilarious post based on the British series Black Books, on “How to Be a Customer in a Book Shop, According to Bernard Black.” It’s a hoot and you really should take a look at it. I thought, in the same vein, I would post a few tips on How to Be a Bookseller, inspired by Black, and some of the more nefarious booksellers I’ve experienced over the years.

  1. Never acknowledge customers. It only encourages them. They’ll talk to you. They will ask you about books. Listening to the latest NPR podcast is infinitely more important.
  2. Make things hard to find. Don’t label sections. Pile unstocked books in front of shelves so it is difficult to get to them.
  3. Never. Clean. Anything. The book can’t possibly be worth anything if it doesn’t have a fine patina of dust and grime on it. You want your customers to walk out looking like they’ve been in a coal mine. After all, how else will they get their friends to believe they had just come from an antiquarian bookstore?
  4. Persuade all your customers that they really need to buy books from that collection of obscure, mildewed books that you purchased too quickly. Everyone needs a copy of the antebellum best selling Social Etiquette for the Plantation, after all.
  5. Give outrageously high prices to books that have been sitting on your shelves for years and aren’t really worth it. Don’t negotiate. You don’t really want to part with them, do you?
  6. Stay blithely uninformed about what you have on your shelves. After all, you’d really rather be at the beach…or golf course…or pub. How dare customers expect that you’ve read or are actually interested in any of this stuff?

Sorry, I don’t have any videos to go along with these. And the truth is, most of the booksellers I’ve know are not like this at all. They love books, build relationships with their customers, and make their shops places you want to spend time in. They are good hosts who love introducing customers to their books, helping them make new friends, as it were. They turn soulless transactions into rich interactions. Thank goodness they don’t take their inspiration from Bernard Black!

An Amazing Bookstore

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One of the many alcoves at Blue Jacket Books, an amazing store in Xenia, Ohio

Have you had the experience of discovering an amazing bookstore, one that seemed to have any book about anything? There seemed to be miles of shelves, cubby holes where you could curl up with a book, and great bargains on remaindered books–ones you wanted to read when they were full price, except you hadn’t gotten around to it.

In a Literary Hub article I discovered that we have James Lackington to thank for all of this. Lackington opened a store in 1774 in London that revolutionized bookselling to this day. His store, The Temple of Muses, eventually stocked 500,000 volumes. He bought large quantities of remaindered titles and, instead of destroying most of them to drive up the price, he passed the savings on to customers. He had four floors of books with “lounging rooms” for customers. It sounds like it was an incredible place.

I remember my first visit to a Borders store while we were house hunting in Columbus. This was when they were still owned by the Borders brothers. I couldn’t believe the depth of selection in each topic area, there was an amazing sale table, and lots of places to sit and browse your finds, as well as a cafe so that you could do it all drink in hand. All the things Lackington figured out made a great bookstore were present.

Now Borders is gone. There is only one major brick and mortar bookseller to speak of. More and more, the selection is limited to either the most significant or most current books in a genre. The only “everything” store is online. But there are still some great stores around the country such as Powell’s or BookPeople who still approximate this ideal. And the second hand stores, particularly some of the Half Price Books stores provide the opportunity for finding great bargains and unusual books. There are some independents as well, some in out of the way places like Blue Jacket Books in Xenia, Ohio that approximate this ideal.

I find myself wondering if a generation from now, people will still have the jaw-dropping experience of walking into a huge bookstore that seems to stock everything, where there are miles of aisles and shelves to explore on every conceivable topic. I also wonder if we will foster a culture that values such places. But there is the wonderful experience of finding your favorite section, and leisurely reading down the shelves of books and making those serendipitous finds that a logarithm or a heuristic might not predict because it only goes off your past history, and not your future interests, the ones that may be awakened by a title, a book cover, or a table of contents. It is a cultural good I hope we do not lose.

I do feel fortunate because in our city, Columbus, while we don’t have any “temples” to books, we have some pretty interesting stores. Some, like the Book Loft in German Village, with its 32 rooms over a couple floors, or the Half Price store on Lane Ave that sprawls and winds through a couple connected buildings get kind of close to Lackington’s ideal. A while back I wrote a post about bookstore crawling in Columbus. If you ever come through, I hope you will come visit some of my favorite places and help keep them alive!

I’d love to hear about your amazing bookstore experiences, so I can visit if I ever come through your town!

Does Barnes & Noble Need to Think Like an Indie?

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Barnes & Noble former flagship store, closed in 2014. By Beyond My Ken (Own Work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses-SA/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Barnes & Noble just fired their CEO, Ron Boire, hired just over a year ago, as sales figures for the chain continue to decline, attributed to store closings, poor NOOK sales, and declines in sales at BN.com. At the same time, Barnes & Noble is experimenting with “concept stores” with larger cafés that serve alcohol.

I wonder if Barnes & Noble needs to start thinking much more like the indie booksellers, who are actually opening stores, seeing at least modest sale increases and are surviving the greatly exaggerated “death of reading.” First of all, I don’t think they are ever going to compete with the uber online bookseller. That despite the fact that BN.com has, in my opinion a much cleaner look and integrates well with its local stores, where you can order an item to be reserved in your local store (if it is in stock) and pick it up in an hour. Prime Now, which involves a Prime subscription and will deliver in two hours to homes in many areas has very limited selections in books eligible for such delivery, although they offer many other items not available through BN.com.

From all I can tell, indie booksellers work hard to draw people into their stores, particularly repeat customers. It seems that there are several key components to this:

  • Quality service from booksellers who love books. These are people who help you find a book, call you when a book you might like is in their store, and recommend books that fit your reading tastes. There are some of us who find the human touch much more appealing than an algorithm. I have to admit, the booksellers I’ve dealt with at our local Barnes & Noble stores have fit this description in many regards, although it seems I rarely deal with the same person twice.
  • Author events. Surveying our local Barnes & Noble store websites, only one of the stores in my area had any author events scheduled. This store had three posted between August 18 and mid-November 2016. The other events at all stores were events for children–a lot of events for children. I will give them credit for encouraging youthful readers, but what about events for teen readers, for young adult readers, for graphic novel readers? What about events for plain old adult readers?
  • Host book clubs and help launch and source community-based groups. According to a Publishers Weekly article, such groups have been an important part of indie stores bottom line. I could not find any evidence of efforts to encourage book clubs on local Barnes & Noble store websites, nor have I seen this in stores.
  • Host other fun reading events. Admittedly some stores have capitalized on parties around the latest Harry Potter release. Silent reading parties have become trendy in some places, a place to go and read quietly with others, perhaps with wine and cheese (which may be part of the idea for stores serving alcohol and having expanded cafés).
  • Use the web and social media not just to sell stuff but to relate to customers. Many indie stores, particularly used and rare stores in out-of-the-way places have a significant percentage of sales online. I think of one store I’ve ordered from on several occasions in an out-of-the-way part of eastern PA whose owner I’ve interacted with regularly via blogs and Facebook because of shared book interests. I’m a customer because of those interactions and even promote (with no personal benefit) his store on this site.
  • Give managers and booksellers a stake beyond just keeping their jobs. For indie sellers, this is their livelihood, lucrative or not. I could not ascertain from online searching whether Barnes & Noble provides any kind of sales or profit-sharing incentives. With that, I would also give a certain amount of creative latitude to these folks to market to their particular community’s needs and interests. There should be rewards for creativity and hard work beyond salaries or hourly wages, if it benefits the bottom line.

I don’t know what to say about Nook. It strikes me as the Betamax of the e-reader world–superior in many respects to Kindle in both hardware and software aspects, but a loser in the marketplace. Part of the challenge is the leveling off and decline of e-sales in general. Unless they can create the marketing cachet enjoyed by Apple products by combining elegance and technology innovations, I personally think they need to cut their losses and support existing e-readers and users of their phone and tablet apps.

I’d like to see Barnes & Noble make it. They occupy a niche distinctive from used bookstores as the only seller of a deep and wide selection of new books physically accessible in many communities. I just hope that they will decide to focus significant attention on the core of their business, and not just on fancier cafés. The indie sellers seem to understand that outstanding customer service and relations are key to their survival. I hope Barnes & Noble has not gotten too big to understand the same.

Bookstores as Safe Spaces

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Publishers Weekly posted an article yesterday titled When a Bookstore is Also a Safe HavenThe writer, an independent bookstore owner proposed the idea that for many, bookstores serve as safe havens during times of national or personal crisis. She wrote about the instinctive sense during 9/11 that her store in Utah be open, and it was packed. It’s not always that people want to buy books, but they want some place where it is safe to process, with oneself or others–patrons and booksellers.

I hadn’t thought of bookstores in this way until I remembered that on 9/11 I was in Cleveland for a funeral of a friend and between gatherings, and after the news broke, I had a few free hours. Where did I go? A bookstore. I drank coffee, followed the news, called home, and tried along with the others who I’d never met to wrap my mind around the truth that our world had changed on that sunny September day.

I’ve noticed that some of my favorite stores are those where the booksellers and many of the patrons know each other. It’s kind of like Cheers where everybody knows your name. Yet I hesitate with this as well. I don’t go to bookstores for a social life, or a confessional. I go for books. Sometimes, I’m a bit creeped out if a stranger gets too friendly, and as an older guy, I don’t want to be that person either! I ordinarily find my social life with family, work, and my church, and some other long time friends.

The article writer notes how stores, particular those who cater to particular communities, may serve as a hub at a time of crisis, as was an LGBTQ store during the Orlando club shootings. For others, there is a greater safety than in a church or a bar. I do find that some stores, particularly if they provide places to read or work with a beverage in hand, often develop a regular clientele who form a kind of community.

They also provide a place to help us try to make sense of what has happened, both in conversations and with books (a way us readers often try to make sense of the world.) As you know, I’ve been an advocate for the value of brick and mortar stores as “third places” as well as for the level of service they provide, particularly as they become to their patrons tastes. This article took it a step further, suggesting they provide a vital public service in times of crisis. In our scary times, perhaps that is something we should value and preserve. I’m glad there was a place like that on 9/11.

Bookstore Review: Half Price Books Online

New   Used Books  Textbooks  Music   Movies   Half Price Books

Screenshot of HPB.COM taken 7/12/16

I’ve been a customer of Half Price Books going back into the 1990’s. They have six stores in my city and we’ve been to them all. They are the source of a number of the books, vinyl, and CDs we’ve purchased, and also a place where we’ve sold these items. Recently, I’ve received emails about their online bookstore, HPB.COM, touting a “new” online presence.

This makes sense of some things we’ve seen in their physical stores. It used to be that all you saw on merchandise was a little price sticker. Increasingly, these have been replaced with barcode labels, with adhesive that makes them not easy to remove at times (a subject for a separate post sometime!). Essentially, with the right IT work, this creates the capacity for them to have over 120 warehouses scattered across the country, and to be open to book buyers from everywhere, all the time, and not just those who walk through the door. If Amazon is indeed getting into the brick and mortar book store business, Half Price, one of the more successful brick and mortar sellers, is going after the online market.

So how have they done? Here are some of my impressions as I’ve looked around the website. First of all, when one goes to the home page, you are welcomed to the “new HPB.COM.” As you mouse over this you can “start shopping” immediately or move the banner to the right or left and see other featured promotions going on either online or at their stores, including their current city-wide clearance sales. Clicking on “start shopping” takes you to featured best sellers of the week, new releases, rare finds, staff picks, books made into movies, and a special HPB collection, which has changed at least once already today. You can also scroll down the home page to see boxes featuring bestsellers, various news items about Half Price Books, staff picks, and more.

Across the top of the page is a drop down menu bar allowing you to go to various pages for books, movies and TV, music, textbooks, rare finds, as well as a “gift card” and an “about” page. Each of the first four drop downs provides links to popular categories, customer favorites, and “superbuys” by price. Just below that menu bar is a search box that allows you to search for a particular title or category.

And this is where it gets interesting because it will give you a featured search result and price, usually for a Half Price store somewhere in the country, and then below, a “marketplace” that includes other places where the item is for sale, not only other Half Price outlets, but also other online “third party” sellers. Prices can sometimes be very low, less than $1, depending on the book, but you should be aware that there is a $3.99 shipping fee for each item, plus sales tax if you are in a state where Half Price does business. Even so, it may be possible to find things at a lower price than at other online sellers, but I would compare, and look at user ratings.

One feature I wish the site had that I could not find, even though I searched for my favorite local store, was the capability to find out if the item was at that store. You can if you scroll down a list of all the available items but you will not be taken there directly. What you can do once you locate your local store is find out about events, staff picks, meet the manager, and more, which is a nice feature.

I did not find anything here that made this my “go to” site for buying books online. But I should add the caveat that I really prefer brick and mortar stores in most instances. I would also say that HPB.COM needs to do work on its connection with Google searches. For example, I searched a book I recently received, Silence and Beauty by Makoto Fujimura. It can be found on the HPB.COM site but searching online it does not show up on the first five pages of a Google search, where it is listed with a number of online sellers as well as at the publisher’s site. Even adding the term “Half Price Books” or “HPB” will only take you to the HPB.COM homepage.

My sense is that the industrious and adventuresome will find some good deals here, and hopefully have a good customer experience. I do think it is an interesting site to see what others are writing about books, including current bestsellers or new releases. Having watched Half Price over 20 years, it also wouldn’t surprise me that they continue to enhance this site. But I think I will continue to do my own book-buying at my local favorite HPB, or at a handful of other local or out of town bookstores I order or purchase from, along with using Amazon for something I need quickly. But that reflects as much as anything my love for the serendipity of visiting a store and finding something interesting that you weren’t looking for. But I’ve bookmarked the site–and you never know!

Have you ordered from HPB.COM? What was your experience?

 

Bookstore Review: Gospel Book Store

Gospel Book Store EntranceLast week, we enjoyed a getaway to one of our favorite parts of Ohio, the Amish communities in Holmes and Tuscarawas counties of Ohio. We enjoy visiting furniture and quilt shops where we can study fine Amish craftsmanship. We found a small “general store” on a country road near Farmerstown, right in the midst of the Amish community. And we discovered the Gospel Book Store in the German Village Center in Berlin, which seems to be the unofficial “capital” of Amish country in Ohio.

The store is located just inside the main entrance of the German Village Center which also includes a market, a pharmacy with an old fashion soda fountain, and a hardware store. Outside the front entrance to the store are sale tables of books, sheet music, and Bibles. Current best-sellers can be found just inside the front entrance. For those visiting who love the cooking in the area, there is a section of Amish and local cookbooks.

CookbooksI also found the selection of Bibles, devotional and prayer books in German an unusual feature of this bookstore. And given its location, it features an extensive selection of Amish romance fiction. I understand this is one of the most popular genres within Christian fiction, and a number of the authors have spent time in this area researching their books. If you are interested in learning more about Amish history and life, there are also books on these subjects.

Amish litAlso in the book sections are an extensive selection of Bibles, devotional materials, books on the Christian life by both popular writers and more serious works on issues and theology, including some of the books I’ve reviewed on this blog! One of the book sellers mentioned that they actually do sell a number of books because of the “unplugged” lifestyle of many in the community. They read rather than watch TV–imagine that!

The store also sells a number of gift items and cards as well as various church supplies. They have an extensive selection of accompaniment CDs as well as other music in genres as diverse as a capella Mennonite music to bluegrass to gospel. They also sell sheet music for choirs and soloists, Christian education materials, communion supplies, and choir robes.

Like many independent bookstores they actively promote events for the community, including a Cookbook Extravaganza with local authors on hand with samples of their recipes. They sponsor a Gospel Concert series held at Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in nearby Wooster.

At one time, it was not uncommon to find stores like this in most communities of some size. They are now fewer and far between. Like most stores they have a well-designed website that allows for online ordering. What struck me in our visit there was that the proprietors have worked hard to know this church-going community and to operate an attractive, friendly store with a selection of the items that cater to the interests of both local people and others visiting the community. If you are a church-going person and have never seen a store like this, it is well worth a visit!

Here are store hours, address, and other essential contact information:

Gospel Book Store
4900 Oak St
PO Box 320
Berlin, OH 44610
Phone: 330-893-2523
Fax: 330-893-3847
Email: info@mygospelbookstore.com

Store Hours:
Mon-Thur: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM
Sat: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday: CLOSED

Bookstore Review: Destination Discount Books

20151219_152326Recently I heard rumors from my son of a new bookstore on the north side of Delaware, Ohio. Then a sales circular arrived at our home late last week with an ad for Destination Discount Books located just north of the town of Delaware on U. S. Route 23. So having wrapped up our Christmas shopping, we made a jaunt up to the store on Saturday.

The store is on the west side of U.S. 23 in what looks to be a Tudor-style home on a hill above the road. Formerly, it had been occupied by a couple of restaurant operations, and the building had been unoccupied for about ten years. The owners finally decided to turn it into a bookstore after the closing of a favorite bookstore in downtown Delaware. They opened in April of 2015 and advertise having a selection of 85,000 (all new, or new remaindered) books including an extensive children’s section and a large variety of gift items and jewelry.

20151219_152949My very first impression was how full the parking lot was. The owner, Ashley, confirmed that they have had a very good holiday season that surprised even them. When we came in the front door, we were greeted by a bookseller who explained the layout of the store and asked us if there was anything particular we were looking for. Just inside the front door is an alcove with all the current best sellers, all discounted. To the right, the front room and middle rooms feature various categories of fiction. Separating the two rooms is a fireplace, with seating in front of the fireplace and seating by the front windows in the front room.  The back room included various self-help, exercise and health, music, and art and other non-fiction topics.

20151219_153340If one takes the staircase up from the first floor, you will find the layout virtually duplicated on the second floor. To your right at the top of the stairs in the front is a room with business, automotive, biography, history, and other topics. The hallway itself has a section of Bibles and the center room features an extensive selection of Christian fiction and non-fiction. On the left side of the hallway is a section given over to cookbooks. Then in the back is a huge selection of children’s books and other children’s items including plush toys. The children I saw seemed to really love this space.

20151219_153554My impression throughout was of a clean, well-appointed store with plenty of light and ease of access to all the books. There is room in the main floor front room for book signings and readings and the store supports local authors. Nearly all of the rooms have comfortable seating making it possible to browse your books or talk with a friend over a coffee or glass of wine from the coffee and wine bar on the main floor.

20151219_161632Yes, not only does this store, like many have an extensive selection of coffees and teas, but also they have a wine bar and sell a selection of wines. This is found to the left of the front entryway on the main floor, as part of the gift, jewelry and checkout area. I had a chance to visit with the store owner, Ashley, for a few minutes (they were busy!). She told me they are constantly getting new items into the store and that their current leading seller was their line of “snaps” jewelry (for the uninitiated, this is a line of bracelets, necklaces, and rings with interchangeable insets that “snap” in and out and are held magnetically, allowing you to color coordinate). Like most bookstores, gift items, jewelry, and beverages are a vital part of their bottom line!

Destination Discount Books has filled a void in the book market around Delaware with a tasteful, well-stocked and comfortable store for the whole family and nearly all reading tastes. I came away with a collection of essays on American history by Gordon Wood, and a beautifully illustrated book by one of my own heroes of the faith, John Stott, titled People My Teachers (they had lots of copies of these for the ridiculously low price of $2.99). If you are in the area and want to stop by or call to see if they have a book you are looking for, here’s what you need:

  • Address: 1185 U.S. Highway 23 North (Route 23), Delaware, OH 43015
  • Phone: 740-362-7711
  • Email: destinationdiscountbooks@gmail.com
  • Website: http://www.ddbooks.biz
  • Hours:  Monday – Saturday, 9 AM to 9 PM; Sunday, 12 PM to 6 PM

This and all my bookstore reviews may now be found by clicking “On Bookstores” on the menu bar (or icon) at the top of my blog.

New Menu Category @Bob on Books!

Given that this is a book blog, I write on all things related to books, at least that I can think of! One of the fun things I’ve had the chance to do is write reviews of bookstores and other posts about bookstores. With the advent of e-books and online bookselling, I admire those entrepreneurs who continue to provide a place where we can page through a book, sit and read a chapter, and make those serendipitous discoveries of things we weren’t looking for that look really interesting.

So, I have now done enough of these posts, including my “bookstore crawling in Columbus” post that I have created a menu category on the menu bar titled “On Bookstores” to make it easier to find all my bookstore reviews and related posts. I hope to keep adding to these as I travel about and hear of interesting places.

Speaking of that, check out the blog tomorrow for my latest bookstore review!

 

What?…Amazon Has Opened a Bookstore?

Amazon Books

It seems like the ultimate reversal. The online giant whose presence has driven brick and mortar bookstores out of business…has opened a brick and mortar bookstore, and may open more.

Publisher’s Weekly posted an article today taking readers into the Amazon Books brick and mortar store located in Seattle opposite the University of Washington campus. And at first glance, it looks like…a bookstore. Apart from a center section where one can purchase the various Amazon devices, most of the store is filled with books. Pictures I’ve seen portray a clean, visually appealing layout. But there are some differences:

  • Inventory. Amazon Books has about 5,000 to 6,000 books in stock, far less than the giant Barnes & Nobles stores.
  • Presentation. All books are face out rather than spine out, one reason for fewer titles.
  • Recommendations. Every book comes with a placard below it with its Amazon rating, a customer review and the number who have rated it.
  • Pricing. No prices appear on or below the book. Pricing varies just as it does online at Amazon. To find the price of a book, you either need to scan its barcode with the Amazon app on your phone, check it at a kiosk in the store, or get an associate to assist you.
  • Stocking. Amazon bases its stocking on book ratings and sales figures. Only books rated 4.0 or higher are stocked.

In this store at least, the strongest categories are children’s, young adult, best sellers, and genre fiction but there are also graphic novels, and a shelf of local authors.

Obviously I have not visited this store and so am judging it on the accounts of others (it just opened to the public on Wednesday). My first impression is that it strikes me as a more sophisticated version of the bookstores one finds in major airports. This sounds like a place to find the books most people are reading as quickly as possible, and perhaps learn of some books you hadn’t heard of through the tags with customer reviews. My hunch is that this will appeal to many people. Not so much to me, perhaps, but then I’m a bit eccentric in reading tastes!

Some things I’m not sure I like about this:

  • Hanging so much on Amazon reviews. This is a flawed system (see my post on “Of Sockpuppets and Fake Reviews“). Until Amazon cleans this up (including tough penalties for sellers as well as fake reviewers) I suspect that some worthy titles will never find a space on their physical shelves and others will that might actually be trash. Hopefully, some latitude will be given to people who know books and not just to heuristics.
  • It occurs to me that having to use a phone app to check pricing gives Amazon a whole new source of data about their customers. Might be worth checking what that app has access to!
  • I know this doesn’t matter to many people, but will it have a personality? Or will it have the personality of a fast-food operation–efficient but soulless? It is encouraging that they do seem to be featuring local writers.
  • Most of all, what many of us like about the indie stores and used bookstores is the chance to discover an unusual title, maybe in a less popular genre, or a book that is backlist or out of print of real merit. It doesn’t sound like I will find such books at Amazon Books (though possibly online).

My hunch is that Amazon will quickly figure out how to make this a pleasant and efficient experience for those who frequent the store. And I understand that you will be able to use online credits on your Amazon account in the store. I do wonder how their associates will handle it when they discover customers who treat the store as a showroom, but decide to buy their books online, or reserve them at their library! Amazon may finally find out what it is like to be in the shoes of the other guys. At the same time, if I were the other guys, I’d be watching what they do well and upping my game.

Ten Marks of a Good Bookstore

The Bookstore at Vineyard Columbus

The Bookstore at Vineyard Columbus

If you’ve followed this blog, you probably have the idea that I’ve spent a bit of time around bookstores. I’ve even reviewed a few of them. Along the way, I’ve formed a few ideas of what I like in bookstores. Here’s my top ten.

  1. An inviting entrance. Featured books inside the front window or inside the door. An attractive display inside. Good sight lines that enable you to get a sense of the layout of the store.
  2. Good lighting. I’ve been in some stores where it was difficult to read the titles on the books.
  3. Clearly marked sections and subsections or even a “map” of the store.
  4. A clear ordering system within sections so you can find your favorite author.
  5. Regularly stocking with new items and clearing out of deadwood. I’ve been in some stores where the same items have been in the same place for ten years.
  6. Clean and clutter free. One shouldn’t need a bath after a trip to the bookstore! Likewise one doesn’t enjoy tripping over boxes of books in the aisles or knocking down  a pile of books.
  7. Selection and specialties. Good bookstores go far beyond the bestsellers with good depth in the various categories. It also seems that stores develop specialties–usually several. It could be cookbooks, sports, philosophy and religion. One second hand store had a great selection of thrillers, mysteries, novels and romance stories.
  8. Places to sit and page through your finds. Good stores are comfortable places you are not in a hurry to leave.
  9. I always love stores with a bargain section, particularly if they throw in some interesting, but slower moving works or duplicates.
  10. Above all, I love a store with a knowledgeable bookseller who knows his or her stock, and has a passion for reading, and getting good books into the hands of others. Add someone who is cheerful and will take time to talk or help you find that hard to locate item and you truly have a winning combination.

I won’t guarantee that this will mean a profitable store. That takes savvy with business management, purchasing, marketing and much more. But I think the things I’ve listed above incline people to return and that has to count for something.

What would you add to this list? And what places are good examples of good bookstores?