Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Love These Books--The Lonely Polygamist and Day for Night Display

One of the skills I have tried to master while being an independent bookseller is tenacity. Unlike mass merchants, as long as we have the desire to sell a book, the gift of time is on our side. We don't generally open big (The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest to the contrary), but we play for a long time, just like a classic art house movie theater (and what do you know, we are just blocks away from two, the Oriental and the Downer).

Little Bee came out last February, but we sold almost half our books in the fourth quarter. We didn 't discover last fall's Yarn until January, and it's selling for us much like a new release. The same for 1954's The Tortoise and the Hare (also released here in the fall). And The Power of Kindness has now been out for several years, and we've sold 100 times more books in its third year than in its first too (I love it because it sounds so dramatic, but really, we only sold one copy in its first two years)

That's why I'm not too worried that we've had the books for two months and we're just now putting up our dual display for The Lonely Polygamist and Day for Night. Now it's not like we haven't had the books on Boswell's Best and in our staff rec cases and in piles in various places--it's just that it took a while for me to get around to the special signage needed to do our full court Little Bee push.

Half court really, as the case is being shared. This is the same place where we did the Best Buddies case last spring and have periodically placed top 25 bestsellers lists. It's an odd case, but it is heavily shopped.

My goal is to sell 100 copies of each book. I thought Lonely P. would hit the bestseller list and be easier, but that's another thing it has in common with Middlesex--it hasn't cracked the top 15 of the New York Times, despite being comfortably in the top ten for independent bookstores.

In some ways, Day for Night has been a bit tougher as it is so difficult to describe. On the other hand, it's been so rewarding because not too many booksellers have jumped on the bandwagon. The thing about selling Reiken is, it's not enough to say you like it, you have to love it. In the end, it's definitely a "trust me" proposition.

Similarly, reviews have been coming slowly (nothing in either the daily or Sunday New York Times, even though I suspect that Janet Maslin would love this book) but the ones that have come in have been rather good, sometimes spectacular. I loved Julie Orringer's piece in the Washington Post, but that Joan Frank review in the San Francisco Chronicle I think best captured the essence of the book (shelf talker at left).

If you're a bookseller, I'd love to use your rec somewhere, maybe on the shelf talkers that we've come up with, maybe on a poster. Email me or just post a comment on this blog.
Oh, and if you're wondering whether it's all me, the answer is no. I've got 4-5 bookseller recommendations on both, and I didn't read one of our big pushes from last fall, The Magicians, now available in paperback. And there our books I've really loved that I never got traction on from other Boswellians. But that's for another post.

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