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Meet Megan Bell & Josh Niesse, co-owners of Underground Books and Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Monday, October 8, 2018

Meet Megan Bell & Josh Niesse, co-owners of Underground Books and Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

Name:

Megan Bell & Josh Niesse 

Store and location:

Co-owners of Underground Books in Carrollton, GA and Hills & Hamlets Bookshop in Chattahoochee Hills, GA 

Number of years as a bookseller:

Megan full time 5 years; Josh full time 8 years

Best part about being a bookseller?:

Someone shared a Guardian piece in one of the bookseller groups this week titled “Bookselling is the most over-romanticized job in the world.” There were some good points in it, but overall we think we should be emphasizing the romance of bookselling. It IS romantic in many ways. It’s how we met (Megan came in the bookstore 2 weeks after Josh opened it and never left), eventually getting married and now co-owning the business. We have a deep love of books and reading and are grateful we’ve created careers for ourselves where we get to spend our days with books. Being more naturally introverted, retail customer service can be challenging at times, but having ongoing years-long conversations with regulars, seeing a child walk down our steps into the bookstore and say “WOW,” and any of the numerous beautiful bookstore moments that happen every day make it all worth it. 

What book(s) are you reading?: 

Megan: I’m a monogamous reader, and I alternate fiction and nonfiction. I just finished Rebecca Solnit’s new collection Call Them by Their True Names.  I’m currently reading the new ARC from Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night, which I picked up at the SIBA Discovery Show. I’m a huge fan of Anders’ Nebula Award-winning debut, All the Birds in the Sky. It was a dream meeting her at SIBA!

Josh: I’m listening to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Libro.fm has turned me into an audiobook addict!) and I’m just finishing reading Against Elections by David Van Reybrouck and getting ready to start an ARC of Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James.

Favorite handsell of 2018:

Megan: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson. This is a book I didn’t know I needed, and it’s been incredible to really feel I’m making a difference when I put this book in the hands of fellow readers struggling with anxiety. It’s a beautiful book inside and out.

Josh: So far this year I’ve been handselling Yuval Noah Harari’s books nonstop, but I’m currently really excited about a new memoir just out called Southern Discomfort by Tena Clark. Tena has such an incredible life story, and we have 75 tickets pre-sold to our event with her this Friday, October 12th.

Best thing you did this year at your store: 

We pulled off our first really large (for us, anyway) author event, hosting Rick Bragg in our city’s arts center auditorium and selling 200 copies of his newest book. Megan has also been having some major successes experimenting with creative social media videos and promotions that have really resonated with our customers and have helped us reach a huge new audience.

Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc)

Underground Books

  • Facebook: 6,400
  • Instagram: 2,200
  • twitter: 770
  • Pinterest: 2,000 

Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

  • Facebook: 1,000
  • Instagram:  1,160

What are some ways you work with your community?

Community partnerships have been a major part of the success of our bookstores. Before opening our second location (Underground Books opened in 2011, Hills & Hamlets in 2016), we spent nearly a year meeting with neighborhood residents and community organizations and businesses. We partner with arts organizations at both locations, and Josh is on the board of the artist in residence program in the community where Hills & Hamlets resides (writers who have been through the residency program and signed books at our store this last year include Jason Reynolds, Sarah Kay, Eve Ewing, and Brendan Wenzel, among many others). Underground Books is closely allied with our local university and Hills & Hamlets with the local charter and Montessori schools. At Underground Books, we host an international literature book club sponsored and led by the University of West Georgia-they receive funds to buy the books from us, and we hand them out free to people who sign up for the club. We also host several book clubs, do pop-up bookselling booths at numerous community events, host various artist and writer receptions, donate ARCs and damaged books to our local jail, donate gift cards to most charitable organization requests, and so on. 

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly?

AIR Serenbe, Serenbe Playhouse, the University of West Georgia (see previous answer).

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life?

We’re not sure there’s a difference between bookselling life and regular life for us! As co-owners of two bookstores we’re definitely on the clock most waking moments.

Megan: The bookstore has been a way to focus and sustain my creativity. Through the needs of our bookstore, I’ve discovered a passion for marketing, especially creating, directing, and editing videos, but also copywriting, social media photography, and managing campaigns. I love that through our social media, you can see on one hand a celebration of reading, learning, nerd culture, and the beauty of books and on the other hand pure silliness and unself-conscious fun that I hope gets across that reading is really for everyone.

Josh: My personal educational background and passions are philosophy and urban/town planning, and for 6 years out of college I worked in and then managed an AmeriCorps literacy tutoring program with youth-at-risk. Bookselling has been an amazing way to combine my intellectual passions with a kind of quiet/gentle community activism.

Top priority for 2018: We did over 100 events in 2017 between our two stores, and this is just the two of us and 4 part time employees. Like most bookstores, events have seemed like a way to try to add value and get people in the doors during a time when they can easily (and usually more cheaply) just get a book online from Amazon. We looked back on 2017 though and said to ourselves, “We’re killing ourselves doing so many events; is this sustainable?” We’ve really been scaling back and trying to focus on doing fewer events but doing them really well and making sure they are profitable. With the time we’re saving from fewer events we’ve been refocusing on our higher margin specialty of rare & antiquarian books. We’ve also been focusing on creating really great social media marketing that celebrates print, book collecting, and bookish culture in general. In terms of bookstore owners, we’re on the younger end of the spectrum, and we’re trying to take a long view. If we want to do this professionally for another 20-30 years, we need to be investing time in cultivating the next generation of serious book collectors and lovers of print media, and we try to let that view inform our marketing efforts.

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: Coming from a background in used & antiquarian books, we’ve been tip-toeing into SIBA and the ABA over the past few years. The trade shows and in-person gatherings have been amazing. Its hard to beat getting to spend time with other booksellers, sharing the joys and headaches of our business and learning directly from each other.  We’ve learned so much through SIBA’s eurekaSIBA event and, just recently, our first Discovery Show. We’ve also gone to the last two Winter Institutes and the most recent SIBA show inspired us to take the leap and commit to going to Albuquerque this year and make it 3 years in a row.

  

Tags:  bookseller interview 

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An Interview with the Owners of Book No Further in Roanoke, VA

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

 

An Interview with the Owners of Book No Further in Roanoke, VA

 Name: Doloris Vest and Craig Coker, owners

 

Store and Location: Book No Further, 16 Church Ave, SW, Roanoke, VA 24011

Number of years as a bookseller: Almost one as an owner and a couple of holiday seasons in the past.

Best part about being a bookseller: Talking books and trying to get the right book in the right hand.

What book(s) are you reading?: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Fist by Sunil Yapa (the Roanoke Valley Reads pick) Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift.

 

Favorite handsell of 2018: Varina by Charles Frazier about Varina Davis, wife of confederate president Jefferson Davis. I pair it with Winnie Davis by Heath Lee, a wonderful biography of Varina and Jefferson’s youngest daughter covering the same time.

 

Best thing you did this year at your store: Got it open! ;-) Also, I am so glad we have been able to bring attention to the literary community that exists here and bring readers and writers together. Our most successful event was a talk with Liza Mundy, a Roanoke native, on her book Code Girls about women who broke German and Japanese codes in WWII. We’re expecting 100-plus for our event on September 5 with another Roanoker and Beth Macy, author of New York Times Bestseller Dopesick.

 

Social Media Stats: Our likes are essentially even with the used and chain bookstores in the area who have been open more than 20 years. One of our most popular social posts was of a visit by the Easter Bunny. 

What are some ways you work with your community? Major emphasis in the store on local writers. We’re blessed with a large number of nationally published authors living in Western Virginia. Beth Macy, David Baldacci, Sharyn McCrumb, Diane Fanning, Leah Weiss and others. In our first 10 months we hosted 18 author talks for more than 30 authors, a number of special events including our Grand Opening, Small Business Saturday, Independent Bookstore Day as well as community events like MuggleFest, Spring Festival, Riot Rooster Makers Festival, Dickens of Christmas and others. We work with a lot of non-profits to offer books at their events where they otherwise wouldn’t have the resources, and generally donate some of the proceeds back to the organization, such as the Harrison Museum of African American History. My favorite activity is working with Blue Ridge Literacy. We give each new reader or ESL program completer a book of their choice.

 

 Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Book City Roanoke, which supports all thing literary in Western Virginia; We work closely with Downtown Roanoke Inc. to promote downtown retail of all kinds.

 

 Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? The most unusual thing is helping customers learn to knit or crochet. If a customer mentions trying to learn and having difficulty, I invite them to the store when it’s quiet and help them through the difficult parts.

 

Top priority for 2018: Getting established in the store itself, learning customer preferences, and building community awareness that there is an indie store in town.

 

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: Talking to all the booksellers and exchanging ideas. I’ve made great connections and have people I can call on for nearly any subject. Secondly, would be the webinars on a variety of topics. As the store’s only staff person I don’t always get to listen in, so I love that they are recorded and archived.

 

Tags:  Book No Further  bookseller interview 

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An Interview with Judith Lafitte, co-owner of Octavia Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Friday, August 17, 2018
 
An Interview with Judith Lafitte, co-owner of Octavia Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Store and location:

 

Number of years as a bookseller:
We have been in operation for 18 years.

Best part about being a bookseller?
Seeing children's faces light up when they have a special book in hand or when they have just met his/her favorite author.

 

What book(s) are you reading?
I am the children's book buyer, so I'm usually reading ahead of every season in the form of ARC's or F&G's. I'm currently reading The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson (an amazingly strange but fun story); I've just finished the Shadow Weaver series - Comet Rising by MarcyKate Connolly; Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl; Squirm by Carl Hiaasen; And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness. When I have time, I like to read Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series - so I've just read her recent story - To Die But Once.

Favorite handsells of 2018:
Sterling: The Best (Fork) Dog Ever; The Hazel Wood; Twig; Shadow Weaver; Lighthouse; any Maisie Dobbs books

Best thing you did this year at your store:
We hosted more events than ever, ranging from Rick Riordan to Rick Bragg

Social Media Stats
FB = 6900; Twitter = 6750; Instagram = 5614

What are some ways you work with your community?
This year we worked with Writers in Community; we underwrite WWNO's Reading Life; NOGSBA Literacy Programs; community partner with Prytania Theatre (books and movies), Stay Local (continuing education for buying local and keeping money in our community); One Book/One New Orleans; WNBA; and events with other independent businesses in our neighborhood.

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly?
All of the above.

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life?
Coleen Salley was my children's literature professor at UNO who inspired me every day with her amazing enthusiasm and joy for children's books. In a way, she opened me up to the possibilities of getting books into the hands of children even before I knew I would be a bookstore owner.

Top priority for 2018:
We've been needing an update on our section signs and I'm hoping that gets accomplished before the year ends.

Favorite SIBA programming benefit:
The biggest benefit is getting together with other regional bookstore owners and booksellers and exchanging ideas. The education sessions are beneficial as well. SIBA has a way of making a trade show a very fun experience with a feel good sensation when you leave.

Tags:  bookseller interview  Octavia Books 

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An Interview with Sally Bradshaw, Owner of Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Thursday, August 2, 2018

 

 

An Interview with Sally Bradshaw, Owner of Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida

 

Store and location: Midtown Reader, Tallahassee, Florida 

 

Number of years as a bookseller: Just under two years!

 

Best part about being a bookseller?: The remarkably interesting people that come into our store. 

 

What book(s) are you reading?:  I’m reading There There by Tommy Orange.  It’s sad and beautiful. I’ve also binge-read Ruth Ware’s four mysteries this summer.  And now I’m also reading an ARC of November Road by Lou Berney, and really enjoying it.

 

Favorite handsell of 2018:  Oh gosh, I’m still selling Trevor Noah’s book.  I can’t stop talking about it.  But for 2018 I guess I’ve sold a lot of Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It’s just a stunning story that so few people know.  And it reads like fiction.

 

Best thing you did this year at your store:  We hosted James Patterson in February, and we expanded to an upstairs space and have partnered with a local cupcakery to provide cupcakes and coffee! Yum!

 

Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc)2964 FB likes/3015 follows; 841 followers on twitter/540 likes; 1295 followers on Instagram

 

What are some ways you work with your community?  We recently partnered with the Holocaust Education Research Council to host their quarterly book club and to highlight books in our store that help teach the Holocaust; we donate books to the Children’s Home Society “Giving Library” over the holidays – we put up a book tree, match every book purchased then deliver to CHS; we’re involved in multiple education/literacy charities, volunteering for United Way’s Read United in schools; and our Authors in Schools program has brought several terrific middle grade and lower school authors to Tallahassee over the past year including Cassie Beasley and Katherine Applegate.  We also partner with Word of South literary and music festival in Tallahassee each spring.  And we’ve worked with the Tallahassee Senior Center and Westminster Oaks retirement community to bring authors to their members as well.  And, finally, we host an author series with the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

 

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly?  See above.

 

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? I have bookselling passions that carry over into my private life😊.  I think my husband, children, and friends are a little tired of how often I recommend good reads to them!  I do feel really strongly about connecting people and advocating for civil discourse. We’ve tried hard to create a space where people who are very different and may have different interests and beliefs can find common ground based on a love of reading and learning.

 

Top priority for 2018: Continuing to expand our customer base and visibility as a new bookstore.

 

Favorite SIBA programming benefit:  SIBA fall Discovery show– it’s AMAZING. The programs and information are so informative– especially for new booksellers. The staff is terrific, and the interaction with other booksellers so helpful.

 

 

Tags:  bookseller interview  Florida  Midtown Reader  Sally Bradshaw 

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An Interview with Jamie Rogers Southern of Bookmarks, located in Winston-Salem, NC

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Monday, July 23, 2018

 

An Interview with Jamie Rogers Southern of Bookmarks, located in Winston-Salem, NC

Name: Jamie Rogers Southern


Store and location: Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC


Number of years as a bookseller: 16


Best part about being a bookseller: Introducing someone to a book or author they didn't know about and then having that customer come back and say "that was amazing!" I will say, I equally love it if someone has an opposite reaction to a book than I did as it often sparks an interesting conversation.


What book(s) are you reading? The Witch Elm by Tana French (Viking, 10/18), Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner, 10/18), The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (Touchstone, 5/18), Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth (Flatiron, 7/18)


Favorite handsell of 2018: Educated by Tara Westover


Best thing you did this year at your store: Other than successfully opening (!), I am really proud of diversifying our programming and reaching a wider audience than we ever have before. Getting new people in and reaching out into new pockets of our community is really a huge part of our mission and I'm extremely proud of how far we've come this year.


Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc): 5,362 likes on FB, 1,095 Twitter, 1,825 Instagram, 5,000 e-newsletter subscribers.


What are some ways you work with your community? Oh goodness, where to start. Since we're a nonprofit, we are involved in our community at every level. We work heavily with our schools, we collaborate with approximately 75 nonprofit organizations and companies each year on events, and we try to create opportunities for people to engage with each other. We host a monthly Social Justice Storytime that has highlighted several groups, including recent refugees to our community through World Relief, Autism awareness, domestic violence, and more. We're working with several groups to cultivate community book clubs, like Pride Winston-Salem on an LGBTQ book club, and a local nutrition therapist on a body liberation book club.


Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Several! Some of them include: RiverRun International Film Festival on their films that are based on books or books about film, a/perture-our local indie theatre on basically the same, Family Services, Junior League, Head Start, Chamber of Commerce, Forsyth County Public Libraries, Winston-Salem Writers, Salemtowne Retirement Community, Piedmont Opera, Winston-Salem Symphony, Kaleideum Children's Museum, Imprints Cares, Hispanic League, Hospice & Palliative Care Center, Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, and Old Salem Museums & Gardens.


Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? Well, since my number one passion in life is reading, I'd say yes! I also enjoy wine, so it's also great that we share a space with a local brewery/coffee shop.


Top priority for 2018: This year, we are beginning a new initiative called Book Build: Fostering Connections by Building Collections. It has come out of our work with area schools and the realization that so many books in their collections are incredibly out of date and therefore irrelevant. Most children living in poverty will only come into contact with books through their school libraries. That means the books in our school libraries not only need to be current, children also need to be able to see themselves in the books they read. We have this amazing opportunity to change a child's life. Our goal is to raise enough money to provide our schools with 25,000 new books by 2020. It's very exciting and we can't wait to get these books to the schools.


Favorite SIBA programming benefit: I always get so many new ideas from talking to fellow booksellers and hearing what works/doesn't work in their stores. I always come away from any kind of networking event with one or two ideas to put into action in our store and community.


Tags:  Bookmarks  bookseller interview 

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An Interview with Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop with two locations in Athens, GA

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

An Interview with Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop with two locations in Athens, GA

Name:  Janet Geddis

Store and location: Avid Bookshop with two locations in Athens, Georgia

Number of years as a bookseller: 7

Best part about being a bookseller?: You know this is an impossible question, right? Today I will say this: I have been blown away by the breadth and depth of friendships I've formed as a result of my bookseller role. From publisher reps to authors to coworkers to customers, I have a community of people who really understand me; after all, we speak a common language--the language of books. 

What book(s) are you reading?: I just started Jessica Handler's 2019 novel, The Magnetic Girl. I'm a huge Jessica Handler fan and am loving it already. Yesterday I finished Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey and Jason Reynolds's For Every One

Favorite handsell of 2018: Issue one of Good Company magazine (from Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney)

Best thing you did this year at your store: We've always made it known that we're in support of human rights, free speech, and anti-discrimination, but this year we've become even more outspoken.Through various in-store and offsite events and initiatives, we remind readers far and wide that we see them and want to hear all stories. 

Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc): 9,336 Twitter followers, 8,343 Facebook followers, & 12.8k Instagram followers.

What are some ways you work with your community? In addition to frequent events and book clubs, we have two initiatives that allow us to participate meaningfully as Athens citizens: #avidgivesback and #avidinschools. These programs are ways for us to donate volunteer time, money, and in-kind donations to nonprofits, schools, and organizations that are making our city--and our world--better places. One example is the #avidgivesback project dreamt up by bookseller/Will Walton. For every copy of his May 2018 novel (I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain) that was preordered at Avid, the bookselling staff committed to 25 minutes of volunteer time at the Athens Community Council on Aging's Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. 

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Yes, we have so many community partners it's hard to name drop just a few! From various departments and clubs at UGA to famous rock clubs downtown to our nonprofit arthouse cinema to the Clarke County School District to our local library to the leisure services department, we work with groups that touch the lives of nearly every part of the Athens population. 

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? I definitely have passions that carry over into my bookselling life! I'm a professional patient advocate, writer, and speaker at migraine.com, and I've used skills honed in that role to be more of an advocate for my staff and for myself as a small business owner. Oh, and my two cats, who make frequent appearances under the #petsofavid Instagram hashtag. 

Top priority for 2018: We're more than halfway done with the year, and I'm not sure I've made as much progress as I'd wanted to by now on one of my goals: to streamline the business, cut down on costs, and improve our profit margin. I know this is everyone's goal, but I'm making it a priority this year. Slow and steady wins the race, I hope!

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: While not listed as a specific benefit when you sign up for membership, the access we have to Linda-Marie and Wanda has been invaluable. To have two industry experts always eager and willing to pick up the phone or exchange some emails about unexpected issues or fun new ideas is amazing. 


Tags:  Avid Bookshop  bookseller interview  Janet Geddis 

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Meet the Bookseller: Sarah Pishko, Prince Books, Norfolk, VA

Posted By Nicki Leone, Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sarah PishkoName: Sarah Pishko

Store and location: Prince Books, 109 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510      

website || facebook

Number of years as a bookseller: 35!

Best part about being a bookseller?: First of all, the product always changes! I stole a line from Books & Books: "NEW YEAR. NEW BOOKS. NEW AUTHORS." Bookstore customers are always "interested and interesting." And, books are always in the news!

What book(s) are you reading?:Varina and Manhattan Beach

VarinaFavorite handsell of 2017: News of the World by Paulette Jiles. We all just thought it was a fresh, new story with a unique setting.

Prince BooksBest thing you did this year at your store: Doubled my inventory of greeting cards! Last April, after 3 years of heavy construction right across the street from me, the Hilton Norfolk The Main opened. It's a beautiful hotel with state of the art convention facilities and it's fronted in glass. The registration desk is on the second floor, and as one takes the escalator to the second floor, they have a great view of Prince Books. Most of my greeting cards were in front of the window. A month later, my card inventory was practically wiped out, so I summoned my greeting card rep, Richard Walters,  purchased two new barrel-style card displays and greatly increased my card inventory. My greeting card sales have more than doubled since June 2017

 Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc)  FB likes 1000

 Top priority going into 2018: I have dropped the ball the last few years regarding reporting to ABACUS. I need to get back to it, and then study my financials. 

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: Seeing my sales reps, and educational sessions.

What are some ways you work with your community? 

Hmm I’m on the board of the DOWNTOWN NORFOLK COUNCIL, and part of it’s VIBRANT SPACES COMMITTEE which was tasked a year ago to develop a marketplace for micro- or incubator retail businesses in a downtown space.I’m on the board of RETAIL ALLIANCE, and am on it’s LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE which monitors legislation that may affect the organization. With regard to legislation, The RETAIL ALLIANCE teamed up the RETAIL MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION, headquartered in Richmond, and formed the VIRGINIA RETAIL FEDERATION that lobbies for both retail organizations.I spent twenty years being a book reviewer for the annual book review contest put on by the FRIENDS OF THE NORFOLK PUBLIC LIBRARY. I have recently stepped in to take the place of an ill reviewer.Every winter I volunteer with my church’s participation in NEST, Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team, a consortium of churches in the city who provide overnight shelter, dinner and breakfast to the homeless who arrive at the church doors.

Tags:  bookseller interview  Prince Books  Sarah Pishko 

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Meet the Bookseller: Serena Wyckoff and Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books

Posted By Nicki Leone, Thursday, March 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

MEET THE BOOKSELLER

Serena and CathySerena Wyckoff and Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

Copperfish Books
103 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda FL 33950

website || facebook || twitter

Number of years as a bookseller:

12 (5.5 years in our brick-n-mortar store with new/used books, 6.5 years prior as used/antiquarian booksellers – mainly online and in antique malls)

Best part about being a bookseller?:

Constantly being around books and people who love books – stimulating, engaging, and fun! And there's nothing better than when folks come back to say they absolutely loved the books we put into their hands!

The Great BelieversWhat book(s) are you reading?:

Serena is reading The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai after having just finished White Houses by Amy Bloom. Cathy just finished Children of Blood and Bone, and is re-reading Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise (for book club).

Favorite handsell of 2017: A Gentleman in Moscow

Serena and CathyBest thing you did this year at your store: Hire our terrific new staff! We were a team of three the first few years… Now We Are Six . ☺

Social Media Stats (FB likes, Twitter followers, etc)
Facebook: 1641 likes
Twitter: 499 followers

Top priority going into 2018: To increase book sales and events during the slower months. We are located in what has traditionally been a seasonal retirement-focused community, with "snowbirds" swelling the local population from October to March. The area is now on the verge of explosive growth, to include more year-round residents and younger working people in the next few years. This offers us the opportunity to strengthen sales April to September, making the overall year more robust.

Serena and CathyFavorite SIBA programming benefit: The fall Discovery Show – and we're so excited that it's in Florida this year. We hope to bring our staff for the first time. The show give us a chance to re-connect with our colleagues (booksellers, publishers, authors) and learn about exciting upcoming releases, programs, and industry tips and practices. We always leave re-energized for the busy holiday/winter season!

Tags:  bookseller interview  copperfish books 

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Meet the bookseller: Mary Ruthless of Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC

Posted By Nicki Leone, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Meet the bookseller: Mary Ruthless of Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC

foggypinebooks.com | facebook | twitter | instagram | email

Mary Ruthless Name: Mary Ruthless—Born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina, I was always an avid reader. I taught myself to read at age 3 because I was too impatient to wait for someone else to read me a story. I was never without a book growing up and my love for reading only grew with each book I read. I received my BA in English Literature from Appalachian State University in 2011 and went on to manage the small bookstore that was in town at the time. When the owner decided to move on and focus on her own writing, I bought it and turned it into Foggy Pine Books. I have a 10 year old son, Liam, who also harbors a deep love of books; 2 dogs, Anya and Athena; and a cat, Smoke. 

Store and location: Foggy Pine Books—Boone, NC 

Number of years as a bookseller: 4 1/2 years—3 at Black Bear Books after college, 1 1/2 at Foggy Pine Books 

inside Foggy PineBest part about being a bookseller?: This is such a tough question because I love everything about being a bookseller—from reading new books to putting them in the hands of excited readers. My favorite part, however, is being able to talk about literature all day long. I love engaging with my customers, making recommendations, and learning about new authors from others. I get stopped all the time around (our very small) town because someone recognized me as "the book lady" and just had to tell me about the book they're reading or to ask me about a title in the store. It's humbling and exciting to know that those little conversations about books that I love so much also matter to the people having them with me. 

What book(s) are you reading?: Future Home of The Living God by Louise Erdrich, The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco 

The Bear and the NightingaleFavorite handsell of 2017: The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden — brilliant and beautiful novel set in medieval Russia with excellent characters and plenty of fairy tale-type magic. 

Best thing you did this year at your store: I did a lot of great things this year (wink wink) but I think the best decision I made was to switch my bestseller display from the NYT bestsellers to the Southern bestsellers. My customers engage with the display much more and many of the "Southern Only" titles really catch their eye. It has boosted my bestseller sales and gives my customers a sense of place as soon as they step in the door. 

Foggy Pine Books new location 

Top priority going into 2018: My top priority for 2018 is to establish the store in our new location which includes: customer retention, community visibility, expansion of titles offered, and hiring new employees. We're looking to open in the new space by mid-January and it's definitely the most important thing on my to-do list right now. 

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: Other than the annual trade show (because it's the most obvious answer), the Okra Picks are hands-down my favorite benefit. I look forward to the bookmarks/cards that come in the mail with each new batch and I love arranging the new Okra Pick display, writing shelf talkers, and hand selling them to my customers. Then, I get to start in on another round of reading great Southern literature so I can nominate the next Okra Picks.  

Tags:  bookseller interview  foggy pine books 

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Calendar

10/16/2018 » 10/22/2018
Circle of Sites: Southern Discomfort

10/23/2018 » 10/29/2018
Circle of Sites; Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows

10/30/2018 » 11/5/2018
Circle of Sites - Freedom Fighters and Hell Raisers

10/31/2018
B3! Webinar: Priya Parker on the Art of Gathering for Booksellers