Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Day at Changing Hands, My Bookselling Home Away From Home in Metro Phoenix.

My goal was to work at Changing Hands in Tempe for much of Friday, but when you're really only in Phoenix for two days and you've got a lot of family, it just isn't going to happen. In the end, I shelved books for about two hours, and that included a lot of chatting.

Since my last visit, at least three years ago, the store has upgraded their computer system. They use Booklog, which is similar enough to IBID for me to look things up, though I was continually tripped up by the order of the database--IBID is ISBN and then title, whereas Booklog is title then ISBN.  One nice breakthrough for a shelver (like me) is that the second-hand books are now in their database.

If you live in the Phoenix area or have family within 50 miles of the store, I am now going to list five reasons why you should visit:

1) It's a really great space. They upgraded a lot of the signage and flooring when I was last there, but I was crazy about several of the new signs. As Jason and Amie know, 2011 was supposed to be the year of the signage, but I'd give  me a grade of C+ on my project.

At least on the day after Thanksgiving, the store was not a madhouse, and yet was bustling enough to feel lively. I convinced one friend to come out and shop and say hi and she replied that she wouldn't normally go out shopping on a day like today, but for me, just this once.

2) So many energetic and interesting booksellers. There are lots of staff recs all over; it's just the kind of great place to browse and get ideas. And like many of my favorite stores to shop, they mix together new, second-hand, and much of their bargain selection.

Here are Gayle's picks. I generally swear by them. She's also a big fan of Alice Laplante's Turn of Mind. And this is crazy--Cindy and I hardly ever talk about books, but two of her favorite books this year, The Art of Fielding and Life, on the Line, are two of my favorite books too. They are two of my staff picks discounted on our year-end Boswell's Best, which I wrote about yesterday. Oh, and The Lonely Polygamist? Cindy, why aren't we sharing more recs?

3) They have so many gift items. There buyers do a great job finding all sorts of items that fit the personality of the store. Gary and Noah (Merrill's friends who picked me up when it was time to return for brunch) bought some key chains. I bought a book and calendar. I could have bought much more.

4) They have so many great and innovative ideas on book retailing. Now I'm not going to mention any of them because I don't want you other retailers stealing them. But the "books taste delicious" onesie? That was totally Cindy's brainstorm.

5) I prefer something delicious nearby, and Changing Hands has a pass through to Wildflower Bread Company. I didn't get to eat their this time, but I'm very hot on the roasted sweet potato sandwich with mozzarella, fig confit and balsamic.

Oh, and I LOVE their website. But you don't have to get on a plane to experience it.

In the end, I had hardly enough time to say hi to everyone, share ideas, and help some booksellers. I still fondly recall the query I had several years ago: "What would you sell to someone who liked true crime, being that we don't have a true crime section?"

Feel free to drop by Boswell and spring something like that on me.

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