Monday, April 27, 2009

The LA Times Festival of Books was last weekend, and for once, I admitted I really didn't want to go. They actually had a few authors I'd like to see this year (Ray Bradbury!), which isn't always the case. Still, the combination of driving in, parking, and struggling against the wave of humanity who must want to see the same people I do sounds like less fun than flying out of LAX.
I also freely acknowledge that I am a bit suspicious of Important Books as so many turn out to be boring, disturbing, depressing, or some combination thereof, and that's the kind of adult fiction that's been featured at the LATFB. I mean, how can you have a panel called "Fiction: Exiles and Outsiders" and not have any urban fantasy authors?

The pull was strongest to go to this annual event when my girls were smaller and we lived closer. They do have cool children's authors, and I thought the girls would get a kick out of meeting real authors (not counting Mommy, who writes "boring stuff with other people's names on it"). We never did make the trek over, but my oldest, 15, has decided to become a fantasy writer anyway.

I used to wonder why they didn't have book festivals for books people read the most. I still do wonder that, but now I suppose if they did, it would be an even bigger madhouse to get to, and it would be somewhere like NYC, the other end of the continent from me.

NYC is where they have big conventions for retailers, and that's where I currently drool over going. Yes, it would be a madhouse too, I'm sure, but there would be no parking problem. There is no parking. Take the subway to midtown and walk west. And authors are there wandering around loose, not scheduled for viewing at certain times.

Spring and summer are the big times for other public book festivals, many of which sound like a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A New Beginning

Today is the Grand Opening of Buy the BOOK in its new home!

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was a teenager, I tried to start businesses doing custom calligraphy, embroidery, even selling hand-typed lists of the Billboard top 40 (in the days before computers). None of these really went anywhere. As an adult, I've been successful with day jobs in both selling and marketing (though I far prefer marketing) but always for someone else.

I launched my ebay bookstore on May 7, 2005, when both sun and moon were in the sign of Taurus (today, April 25, is also a Taurus/Taurus day). Yes, I know a little about astrology, just enough to be dangerous. Moon in Taurus is supposed to start a business out on the right foot, and I figured sun in Taurus couldn't hurt. Little did I know that summer is slow in the book business. But that's ok. If I had started during a busier time, I would have been disappointed when business fell off. This way, I was pleasantly surprised when it picked up.

I started out selling duplicates from paperback book lots I bought on ebay to read. As I learned more about the book business, I started investing in better books--collectible hardcovers, signed books, and new releases straight from the publishers. I started out with the philosophy to buy books I would want to read so that if no one else bought them, at least I could enjoy them. But I still stock things I like because it seems to attract people I enjoy, and how great is that? If you're reading this, it's probably because we have similar taste in books.

I think most people are aware that ebay has implemented a lot of changes lately. The painful one was doubling selling fees for books to 15%. In addition though, they are marginalizing elements of branding and individuality in favor of giving buyers a uniform and neutral buying experience. That's not what I want to do.

Do you remember the scene in My Fair Lady when Henry Higgins is up on the ladder to reach the tallest shelves in his library? Or the dance in the library in the Music Man? Since I was a kid, I wanted a library with polished wood shelves to the high ceilings, ladders on wheels and comfy leather chairs to read in. I can tell you what the room smells like and describe the view out the window. Books and reading are full-sensory things to me, and I try to provide as much of that as possible in my store.

I have always received high marks for describing my books in detail because that's important to me as a book lover. I've learned to avoid certain sources for books because there's just no telling what you're going to get--and yes, you can send it back, but what a hassle!

I never quite got the movie-set library, but I do have my grandmother's old rocking chair and over a hundred linear feet of bookshelf space spread around the house. My husband and my two teenage daughters and I live in a big Spanish style house with lots of storage for my inventory, so in a way I did get the library I always wanted--it just doesn't look quite like I imagined it.