Monday, November 15, 2010
Decisions Of A Banshee
I know -- I'm really late today, but I've been running like a banshee since we got back from Dayton. Between the enormous piles of new books (how GREAT it is to say that!) and the need to select and tag all the ones that are going to the antiques mall, I feel like I should run myself through the copy machine. But it's good to be busy and I am certainly not complaining. I love nothing better than whirlwind activity during a work day. When I was director of PR and sales for the senior living complex the only thing I liked about the job was the fact that I flew around all day putting out fires and making things happen.
Anyway, things are happening here today. And guess what? Remember all that fretting about Emily Dickinson's Herbarium and my low $50 bid? Well, as it turns out, there was no need for rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, because I GOT it! I also got the architecture books, so I'm in book heaven. All I can say is you must have sent up many, many burnt offerings to the book gods. If so, I have lots of pay-backs due, so be sure to cash in if you have a big sale coming up.
Eric will be home from the store soon, but it's his night to cook, so I'm still working. Before you feel too sorry for him, he cooks exactly one night a week and he always makes spaghetti. I've been up since five -- wrapped the orders, had a bagel and coffee, and hit the ground running to sort the 50-some books I bought from my customer. I had had a few of them in the past, so was reasonably sure about pricing them and I already had descriptions on my database. All it took were a few changes and -- bingo! -- a live listing. But the majority of the titles were new to me, so I spent the the morning researching, which of course I love, thanks to my old newspaper days.
One thing did become evident though and that's this -- some books cause a conflict never before experienced. Now it seems that every time I pick up a book I immediately ask myself -- should it go online, or should it go to the antiques mall? In some cases, it's a no-brainer. Esoteric titles of interest to two people in the wilds of Tazmania go straight to the book sites. But what happens when you have a gorgeous edition of Irish Folk Tales edited by the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats, replete with tipped-in color plates, laid paper, signed by the book designer, snuggled into a handsome slipcase and issued in a limited edition of 2000 copies? I could see it selling in either the real world or the ether-- and, yes, it does pass the age test for the mall, so even that's not a decision-maker. I see-sawed on this one so many times you'd have wanted to snatch the book out of my hand and made the decision FOR me. In the end I decided to list it on one venue only and if it doesn't sell quickly take it to the mall. Of course it doesn't take too many booksellers dancing on the head of a pin to see another problem brewing with that idea. It's fine for one book, but pile up too many of them and my head will be revolving like the girl's in The Exorcist. If anyone has antiques mall experience (Kristian, where are you?) please chime in, as this is driving me crazy.
Another issue complicating it all of course is the holidays. As we all know, this is bookseller prime time, so it's important to maximize our exposure, or at least to choose venues wisely. If life were fair I'd put everything eveywhere, but I can't because I know that as sure as I'm not remotely ready for Thanksgiving it will land me knee-deep in a river of trouble. It's been my experience that as soon as someone buys a book it gets exponentially better sitting on the wrapping bench, so you can imagine how wonderful it will get if it sells online and is two miles away at the antiques mall. I am not ready to trade sanity for exposure, tempting though it is, so Christmas, too, must be factored into every decision.
I suspect it will even out somewhat once I get set up at the mall. We get access to our booth next week and can begin working towards opening day which is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Another thing that may be a decisive factor is space. I may actually have too much of it, in which case there's nothing to decide. MOST of it will go to the antiques mall!