November 3, 2011

a local book-seller's perspective

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to introduce Aja, my long-time friend and fellow book lover, as today's guest. Aja and I have swapped and talked book for more than 15 years, and I'll be glad to keep talking shop with her for the next 50.

Local Bookstore Manager Cannot Wait to Have Local Blogger’s Book Release Party

By Aja
Guest Blogger

I’ve been friends with Laura for years. As you might have noticed, she’s pretty into books. That’s okay, though, because I’ve been in love with reading since fourth grade. That is when my grandmother gave me the first ten books in The Baby-sitter’s Club series. I hesitate to speak for Laura, but I think we both spent some time pretending to be part of the club. And with books like that, you pretty much are a member.

Laura leans a bit more towards the Laura Ingalls Wilder and myself towards L.M. Montgomery. (Though I appreciate LIW and I’m sure Laura appreciates LMM). That is what is so awesome about being friends with a fellow booknerd. You can plant your freak flag in a genre, series or even just that One Book. But your people get it, they understand, they are protectively rereading their own favorites back at home.

I like writing and occasionally take the time to sit down and put together a short story. Not like Laura, though. She’s a Writer with the capital W. My passion has led me down a different path. I manage an
independently owned bookstore with a community outreach arm. This is both supremely awesome and occasionally terrifying. It is a big responsibility and I’m lucky that I have smart, talented friends who step up to help me wherever they can. Cough *Laura* Cough.

Loving books, turns out, does not a manager make. I wouldn’t say that someone who doesn’t like books could do this, but there is a lot more that goes into it. Its kind of like when you learn that people who run art stores don’t just make art all day. There is paper work, tax worksheets, schedules to make and everything needed for an event. A good bookstore make an event look effortless. This is not the case. There is often tons of prep hours, day-of cleaning and rearranging, and more often than not actual physical labor. As a general rule of thumb, the events themselves don’t bring in a ton of revenue. And when we’re talking about community outreach events, they aren’t even intended to do so.

Why do them, then? Well, especially for community outreach topics, we do it for you. We have Harry Potter movie release parties so you can drink butterbeer, answer trivia questions and talk about an awesome book series with like-minded individuals. (This one might also be for me, but the point still stands.) No one comes to this party to buy Harry Potter books, you already have a hardbound set at home with the Comic Relief printed Quidditch Through the Ages and Care of Magical Creatures. We have the supplies available for a letter-writing campaign to promote political activism in our community. We screen documentaries to promote social awareness of important topics. We have local authors in so they can interact with supporters and hopefully feel compelled to keep writing.

Whether Laura’s book sells 1 or 1,000 books, we want her in our store because she is part of our community. She shops local, she gives people like me an opportunity to talk about the other side of the writing process and she’s a good person. She deserves to have her community at her back. We’d do the same for you because we already do the same for you. Support your local, independently owned, community bookstore (and other shops!) because they support you. Thanks.

Aja, General Manager 
Indigo Bridge Books and Cafe
701 P Street, Suite 102
Lincoln, NE 68508

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