I’ve had my store for 17 years and in that time so much has changed in how I can work. Years ago, if I wanted to run a report on my bestsellers, I’d have to do it at the bookstore. If I wanted to make and send an order, I’d have to mark up catalogs and then enter it on the computer, at the store.
Things are so different now. I got to sit at home watching the Olympics and ready my best seller report for the New York Times yesterday. I logged on to my office computer remotely and in just about the time it would take to physically run the report, I did it from home, and then uploaded to the Times site. All from the comfort of my couch. This is simultaneously, a great innovation and a horrible one. Yes, being to work from home is sometimes just wonderful. But the fact that I can work so efficiently from home sometimes makes me feel yoked to my desk at the bookstore. The ability to just log on means that work is never far away. And things that honestly can wait until I’m back at work just get done on personal time.
The same thing is happening with making orders. It was one thing to sit at home with a happy stack of catalogs and mark them up at home. For some reason, I always enjoyed that. Then I would bring in the catalogs and give them to my rep and then enter the titles on the computer. Now, with rare exception, Penguin Children’s for one, all orders are done on Edelweiss. This does one great thing: I never have to enter book information. I download and then upload a file and I’m done, and that is an enormous time saver. The downside is more screen time, a lot more. I think anyone who works in a small bookstore where they wear all the hats knows it fairly impossible to spend the day doing orders on the computer. So, what was once a fun task of looking at catalogs in the tub, has now become somewhat of a pain.
I don’t mean to whine. Okay. maybe I mean to whine a smidge. It’s just I am feeling nostalgic for the days when the work I would do at home would be to read. It’s almost as if sometimes reading feels like a luxury, like I’m hiding from what I need to get done, and that’s as sad as it is frustrating.
Yes, increased screen time is inevitable, but my promise to myself in 2014 is to spend less time in front of my computer and more time with my head in a book.