For this week’s Road Trip Wednesday challenge, the YA Highway team has posed a very interesting question:
Imagine you get to open your own bookstore. What would it look like? What kinds of books would you sell?
I’m sure I’m not the only bibliophile to have considered this question. For a number of years, I’ve often thought about the kind of bookstore I would operate if I had the means to establish one. Usually after a frustrating experience with an existing bookstore! So, here’s my bookstore…
First, I would be independently wealthy–and I mean J-K-Rowling-Bill-Gates independently wealthy–such that I could cover the annual operating costs from my own pocket if necessary. I would probably establish a foundation to run it, allowing people and/or organizations to contribute to its running. This way the bookstore wouldn’t depend upon turning a profit, which in turn would mean that I could stock books that are slow-sellers, offer books at prices that compete with online retailers, and, in certain cases, give books away. It would also mean the store wouldn’t be subject to the usual financial storms that derail many independent operations (the big bookstore chains, an unstable economy, etc.)–a comfort to both my staff and my customers.
The store itself would consist of three floors, each with about the same square footage (or more) as the average Barnes and Noble. The 1st floor (ground floor in the UK) would stock new books. The selection of books would, naturally, reflect my interests: theology, fiction, history, language, and music. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you would find in each section.
Theology: Works of academic interest (satisfying scholars, students, and “educated laity”), as well as good, solid, substantive Christian books (including devotionals, and works aimed at the “man-in-the-pew”).
Fiction: A healthy selection of the classics (expect to see the entire Penguin Classics range), as well as what I and my staff consider to be the best of a variety of genres (YA, NA, suspense, thriller, romance, detective, etc.). Because the store isn’t driven by profit, I wouldn’t have to stock books simply because they will sell (*cough* FIFTY SHADES… *cough*) and can give prominence to lesser-known authors we consider worthy of attention.
History: This will run the gamut from ancient to modern: British, American, European, military–you name it. Again, I’m not simply looking for books that will sell, but the best on the subject. My staff and I will research and consult to come up with a selection that is both broad and deep.
Language: In this section you will find foreign language learning tools, along with a wide selection of books in those languages (e.g., Harry Potter in Spanish, German, French, Chinese, etc.). You will also find reference and how-to books on writing (dictionaries, thesauruses, Stephen King’s ON WRITING, etc.).
Music: Books on music theory, instrument tuition books, books about musicians–classical and popular, sheet music, etc.
And that’s just the ground/1st floor! Upstairs, the entire floor would be dedicated to used books. I’m not necessarily going to be as selective about the used books we sell. The idea I have for this is that people will have the option to donate books, or use the store as a means to sell their used books. If they donate, the store keeps whatever money is made. If we sell on their behalf, then we send a check to them when their books sell.
The basement floor will be the coffee shop/lounge. Patrons will be able to go down there to read, work (we will have store-wide WiFi), or just relax with a beverage. We will host author speaking and signing events there, and on select evenings invite local musicians to play. We will have a “collection box” for patrons to show their appreciation to invited talent, in addition to the honorarium from the store. The basement will also have small, sound-proof conference rooms for meetings (e.g., writing groups, book clubs, NaNoWriMo-related events, etc.).
So, yes, I’ve thought about it some. Sound like a place you’d visit? What would your bookstore look like? Use the comments below, or take part in this week’s Road Trip Wednesday yourself (see the YA Highway blog for details).
And don’t forget my Book of the Year 2012 Giveaway! Only a few more days left to enter!!