Attracting New Customers

Josie Leavitt - February 4, 2013

People forward me the most interesting book-related articles. On Sunday, my young staffer sent me a link for an article from the Guardian about how a Scottish library is trying to get new patrons. They are offering classes.
While this is not a novel idea — a lot of libraries offer educational opportunities — the Mayfield library in Dalkeith, Scotland offered a pole-dancing class as a way to get people to take out more books. Stripper pole dancing classes. I couldn’t help but scratch my head at this idea. Then I really started to think about it, and it’s genius.
The class was open to anyone over sixteen, and it was scheduled to run on Love Your Library Day. What a smart way to get folks to come to the library, if for no other reason than checking out the class. Pole dancing is supposed to be great exercise and it’s my guess that after class folks might want to take out Fifty Shades of Grey, just to keep the mood going.
This whole idea got me thinking about what libraries and bookstores will do to get new customers. Sure, we could have a sale or bring in a great author, but is that enough? Do we need to offer classes in things that have no real bearing on books? Maybe. And what’s wrong with that? The more time people spend on their devices the less time they spend with other people. Bookstores and libraries help keep those real human connections alive. And if it takes a pole dancing class to get someone in the library, so be it. They might take a break and see a book they just have to have and honestly, does it matter what brought them to the library or bookstore? What’s important is that they came and now it’s our job to make them want to come back.
While pole dancing is not something my store is likely to offer, I’m curious what sorts of classes you would like to see run at your local bookstore or library.

4 thoughts on “Attracting New Customers

  1. Diana

    It’s funny you mention this, we have several metal poles at our store, my manager and I joked about pole dancing to bring people in – especially since it’s all women that work there. Lol

  2. Shoshana

    Check out The Reading Bug in San Carlos, CA ( – they’re a recent (3 year-old) independent children’s bookshop that offers a ton of classes: pre and post-natal fitness, yoga, dance for kids, and a bunch of others. I worked there last year and the classes have shown to be a wonderful way, not only to get more foot traffic in the store, but to increase the store’s community presence. It’s really, really effective.

  3. Wendy

    I like it that stores offer programs, but it depends on where in the store. Sometimes I want to enjoy browsing in a quiet atmosphere, and if there’s a whole lot of action going on near the books I want to look at, I’ll likely go elsewhere.


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