So, like I was saying, I(we) constantly try to come up with ways to better sell and promote books and authors and presses that we find important. We do displays. We have quarterly, or thereabouts, book chats where all the booksellers of Micawber's discuss three books they love. We talk about them in our monthly e-mail. Mostly, though, we do it the old-fashioned way. We handsell them. That's what bookselling in a store like ours is really about. We get the chance to talk to people about books and recommend things to them. It is one of the greatest and most challenging parts of the job.
Yesterday, I had a serendipitous encounter related to the subject at hand. A 30-ish man was in the store and he told me he mostly bought books on Amazon. He asked me to name the one or two most important books in my life. Sheesh. Sensing the difficulty of his question he said, "How about some books you think are really ignored?" So I rattled off a few names: Amy Hempel, J.F. Powers, Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Hwang Sok-Yong. I had to laugh a little as two of them were poets and the easy joke being 'Isn't almost all poetry ignored by the public?' We talked books for a little bit. He had found $40 in the wash and decided to spend it at a local store. I was happy he'd found us and he left with "Ulysses" and "The Missing Piece" by Shel Silverstein. But no matter. You have to get used to customers ignoring suggestions pretty quickly in this business or you'd go home crying an awful lot. The discussion was fun and it kept me thinking about this. How we can turn one customer onto a book and then, well, who knows where that goes? It might never get read. It might get passed around. It could become a family favorite.
I've decided one small thing I can do to keep this theme rolling is to do a weekly focus on an author/publisher/book that could use a little light shined on them. I'll start today in another post just to break it up a little bit.