Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another Project I Haven't Done--Collecting and Using Customer Recs...And a Shout Out to Tracy Chevalier

In my years of books breaking out through consistently incredible reads, Tracy Chevalier's Girl with the Pearl Earring stands out as one of the highlights. Schwartz had a ton of reads on the book, and my coworker Nancy didn't stop working it for months. Inspired by a Vermeer paintwing, it's resounding success actually seemed to set off a Vermeer revival.

Her new book, Remarkable Creatures, is a novel about geologists Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Londoners both, they are fossil hunters both, one working class and the other, wealthier and quite a bit older. Chevalier is said to do a great job bringing these historical figures to life, and puts in perspective the oppression they faced from a male-dominated society.

One of the great things about having multiple stores and an office filled with readers is that we had so many folks with different taste, such that you could build momentum on a book. It's hard for me to get enough folks on staff with different taste to all get excited about the same book.

We've been thinking out is trying to get customers' to read books early and use their reviews. I didn't have soemone read Tracy Chevalier in the store (there's only so many hours in the day), but I gave the book to Laura, one of our good customers (she helped us with giftwrapping one day), and she sent me back a nice little note. I thought I'd share it here:

"Thank you for letting me one of the first to read Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures. It took me a while to get into it because her writing is so sbutle and because the voice of the early 19th century is so formal... Couldn't put it down when I got one-quarter of the way through. Thanks for a good read."

So would I sell books if I posted customer reviews? You wouldn't be able to get a feel for the broad range of their taste, because there wouldn't be room. Some folks you might know, some you wouldn't. And that said, you'd really have to use last names, because you'd want their friends to identify them. And of course, would this just be using an idea that Azon already does? Oh, and it seems like a lot of work to get all the posts up. And how do you decide who to use and who not to. For now, I'll just stick with Laura's rec right here.
Read Stacie's post about the importance of translated books in The Boswellians.

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