The Wake of Forgiveness, which Carl said, "A family of Czech-Americans in early 20th century Texas is split by a rift between a very hard, bitter father and a powerful, scheming rival family. In a literary world filled with copycats, Machart has carved out a true and original style."Glancing at the pages, I knew there had been recent updates as Carl's page now references the just-released-in-paperback version of Bruce Machart's
Well, indeed we have staff rec pages, but I fear that most people don't know there's a virtual version of one of the most complimented sections of our store. It ain't rocket science, as most independent stores have them. I don't like to talk about our staff rec area when my shelf is looking messy, but I just cleaned things up.
To me, the art of staff recs comes down to several points:
A. If you don't want to bang your head against a wall too much, it's easier to sell a trade paperback.
Here's how you can tell if you are handselling The Tiger's Wife. You should have sold 50 copies for every million dollars in annual sales your store does before you can even consider bragging. And all stores that had an event must at least double that number. Also, is anyone else but me freaked out that the novel is from Random House but has an old Doubleday ISBN? What's the story there?
I'm hoping to sell at least 100 hardcovers, as long as Random House waits until after Christmas for the paperback. Jason just re-added it to the Boswell's Best.
B. a book that you know has some sort of audience if you just showcase it. There are certain kinds of books that I like where there simply isn't a big enough potential audience for the book. I don't have an example for this.
C. a smartly written rec card. My biggest problem is that I write too much. I know they sometimes work, but I'm not a fan of the rec card that simply says "awesome" and I really don't like rec shelves that don't say anything. I know many other stores do; it's just personal taste, but since it's my store, I ask everyone to write something on their cards.
E. What's the competition on your rec shelf? Do you make your shelf tell a story about your titles or do you vary things out? I think customers do like it (and some of them love it) when you can get a read on someone's taste. I like titles A and B from Agnes so I'm going to buy C. That said, the grayest book/rec among the like books will get short shrift. Its not a bad setup, really. It's like showing someone an inappropriate but comparable house to get them to commit to the one you think they should buy. On the shelf is a ruthless collection of short stories which is very good, and next to it is a ruthless collection of stories that is the best that Bertram has read in years. Which would you buy? Well, if you don't like ruthless collections of stories, then neither, but if you do, I'd go with the second collection.
Or do you include a wild card title that sticks out like those red accent walls did when people first started doing them?