Wishes for the New Year

Josie Leavitt -- January 7th, 2013

Today is my first day back at work in two weeks. I must say, the time off has been as restful as it’s been delightful, though sadly, nary a book was read in whirl that was the holidays and catching up with friends. As I ponder the last year I can’t help but think of things I’d like to be different in the coming year. Below is my all-encompassing list of goals/dreams for the bookstore.

– I will try to not lament about the e-readers taking over the book world. Instead, I will celebrate the physical book. I am going to rejoice in the actual book. I love the feel of them, the smell of them, and the portability of them. I will remember that people walking in the door of my store also love the physical book and there is nothing more fun than meeting a kindred spirit.

– To do more school orders. It’s been hard to break into the public school system in my area and it seems to be getting harder, not easier, for indies to provide books to schools. Even the private schools are hesitant “to show favoritism to one store” over another, as we were told by one administrator. I know schools have budgets to adhere to, but in many cases indie stores are the only ones providing free author visits and I’m tiring of fighting for every order. We do have several extremely loyal librarians and teachers who only shop with us, but even they can’t bring the whole school to our store with purchase orders. My goal is simple: get two more teachers per school to order from us in the coming year. If we can slowly build that way, perhaps come September we’ll be awash in orders.

– Keep better inventory control. I say this every year and every year it gets better, but this is the area that all of us could improve on. Processing returns faster is always a goal, however it always seems to be the law that the minute a hardcover nonfiction political book gets returned, someone suddenly comes in wanting it. Murphy’s Law aside, I think I need to take a more harsh approach to returns and not hang on to books that I hope will sell, eventually, but just return them.

– Make smarter frontlist orders. I say this every year, too, but every year this is a challenge. Do I need to buy every picture book with an adorable bear story? No. Do I? More often than I care to admit. The hard part with frontlist ordering is guessing, to some degree, what the hot books will be and ordering enough of them.

– Read more. This probably pops up on every bookseller’s list, but it is always a goal for me to just spend more time reading. The issue with this is there just aren’t always enough hours in the day.

– Get more creative with displays and signage. I often delegate this to staffers, who do a great job and I’m thankful for them. But I sometimes wish I could come up with really clever displays that make people laugh as they linger over them. This might be a lofty goal for me as I always joke that were it not for Elizabeth, we’d have the exact same display we had when we opened 16 years ago.

– Lastly, have more fun at work.

Booksellers, what are your goals for the coming year?