I was reading somewhere that for many retailers, December 26th is their 3rd or 4th busiest day in terms of sales. No margin, mind you, because everything is marked down, but good volume. It seems surprising to me, as bookstores don't have as many markdowns. That said, many of our customers are at home all week, so that it's like five Saturdays in a row,which usually have better traffic for us than a weekday. The 31st? Not so much.
Two of our customers yesterday were Jennifer and Mike, who were shopping for a gift for a techie friend. As an aside, Jennifer told me that our friend John was recommending a book which turned out to be The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal. The title wasn't exactly right, but he had just raved about the book to me, and it turns out I can hold onto a memory for at least a day, if I'm lucky. It's about a banking dynasty divided and brought together by a priceless collection of wood carvings. Alas, it sort of skipped my consciousness, while we quietly sold a dozen.
It also showed up on Stacy Schiff's list of books she loved in 2010. Another book on her list was How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, by Sarah Blakewell. Our customer Peter has been raving about this book for a good while. Her last book she recommended was The Posssessed, by Elif Batuman. Also did well with us, and sold extra copies off our matryushka display.
What was nice to me was that two of the five #1 picks were by authors we'd hosted in the store. Gary Shteyngart called Joshua Ferris's The Unknown "deeply moving and as lyrical as anything I've read in years." Michael Kortya had Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter on his list. And Kathryn Stockett's pick was for a book whose author we'll be hosting in just a few short weeks, Karen Abbott's American Rose. It's "sultry!"
Back to the de Waal book. We're out, as is Ingram. We don't really need enough to chase it, but it's certainly doing well enough to think about it. And like many books nowadays, the paperback is coming faster--the paperback is scheduled for March, just seven months after hardcover publication. I was looking at the Simon and Schuster catalogs and more and more books are coming out from them in paperback in six to eight months. The exception now seems to be the rule.
But that's a long way t0o say that I have no idea what we're going to do. Happy new year. We're open until 5 pm tonight.
Addendum--like many retailers in Milwaukee, we had a great day, way above normal. With temperatures close to 50, just about everybody was out walking!
Nonfiction Friday — 10 Favorite Survival Books
2 hours ago