And I've even heard, "When am I going to buy ebooks from you? I read on my cell phone." Now admittedly half of these requests (two out of four) were from friends out of town, and one of the two locals didn't exactly promise that he'd get the books from Boswell. But it's definitely a resolution for 2011. There's an upside and a downside--you don't carry the inventory, but the margins are lower. And another downside--it still disconnects you from the store.
I recently said in a column that a small bookstore is just two or three mistakes away from closing, and that mistake can be one of action or inaction. Where did I say it? In a newsletter called Publishing Trends*. Now most of their material is pay only, so I can't link to more than the site. I'm always interested in how folks can get other folks to pay for information (actually, the world is interested in this) because we only seem to be able to give it away as a loss leader.
Well, there's always the guilt factor. You like this blog but don't buy anything from us? If the store closes**, the blog absolutely goes away. Here's our website address, which yes, has secure purchasing. Did that work?
One last thing, before my footnotes below. My nephew Adam recently signed up for RSS feed for this blog, and he says it's been a great way for him to not miss a post. Come to the blog once a month and you'll be overwhelmed with Boswelliana. Yes, there is such a thing as too much Beans and Barley poppyseed torte. But a little each day? Delicious. Sign up here for Boswell and Books in your in box.
*Like many newsletters, it may post for free at one point, but like many others, it may not.
**The store isn't closing. I should be careful with panicky threats in this bookselling environment. I should say that if all our customers got complacent (or for that matter, if we got really complacent), we'd probably close. That's the lesson of the day; avoid complacency! I learned about this lesson while watching Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon on CNBC yesterday.
***I am still reading Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk with Me, long after the event. My favorite piece so far is about Birbiglia being booked to do campus activities. Sometimes he be scheduled at Noon in the lunch room, and at least once in study hall. At Yale, they wrote a newspaper article about how nobody ever heard of him, and why couldn't they get someone like Robin Williams (who hasn't done standup in 30 years). Don't worry, I didn't give away most of the funny bits.