Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bookstore Personalities

Every book store I frequent has certain characteristics that keep me coming back.  For one of them it's simple geographic location. For another one, it's the quantity of books on the shelves.  For the two independent stores I frequent, it's the warmth of the people running the store and an aura of true love for the written word.
Yesterday I was the privileged guest of the Borders Bookstore at the Lycoming Mall in Williamsport, PA where I signed copies of The Keepers of Sulbreth.  Joyce Rupert, host extraordinaire, had my signing posted on their events calenders, printed and online, had posters at both entrances to the store and had ordered a LARGE number of  my books for me to sign.  As you can see from the picture, they had a large table set up for me with a beautiful Borders cloth covering it, a comfortable chair and those clever little plastic gadgets to display my books.
Not only was Joyce helpful and friendly, but every worker in the store made me feel welcome and many stopped to speak with me.  Now let me tell you about location.
Many authors had horror stories of a signing table set in the back of the store, by the bathroom, or some other quirky spot in a store where no one will ever see them. I wasn't in the back of the store  because this store had NO back. It is set in a mall where the one entrance is to the parking lot and the other is into the enclosed mall concourse.  The store has an aisle set up from one entrance to the other, lined with displays.  And yesterday my books and I shared that prime selling place with those racks and tables of best-sellers. Nearly every person entering the store passed by my table, many of whom were only using Borders as a convenient way to enter the mall.  It was wonderful.
On one side of my table was a display of the newest hardback releases and across the aisle from me was the large table of newest mass market releases.  Many of my sales came from people searching that table for a read. On my other side was the information desk, constantly manned and constantly busy. 
The store had a constant flow of customers and I had few moments of standing by myself.  Some people stopped to talk about writing, about our favorite fantasy books, about their college plans, about their lives and the world of books.  One aspiring writer is a temporary resident of the area as he does his time as the local army recruiter.  I wish Sergeant Aleman the best of luck and hope he stays save in his next tour. 
I consider yesterday's signing as my most successful event.  Not because I sold the most books ever but because I sold them all to strangers.  Not one family member, friend or fellow writing group member were among my customers.  I love those people for their support but I'll never know for sure they purchased my book purely for its entertainment value.  Yesterday every person who bought my book wanted it for its own merits.  It was a wonderful feeling.
I sold half the books Joyce had ordered for the event and she assured me I did better than anyone they'd recently had for an event.  So even though I didn't sell out like I did at three previous events, I was thrilled with the day.  She invited me back and I'll certainly plan on doing another event. My only regret is I don't live closer to this particular Borders.  They have a large cafe and a very efficient staff.
To top off a great day and keep me alert on the two hour drive home, I visited the Auntie Anne's pretzel store and bought an original recipe pretzel.  So many people walked through the store carrying one, my stomach was growling. 
Do you have any tales of best and worst book signings?


  1. Sounds like you had a fabulous signing. Did you stay behind the table or come out and greet passers-by?

    Straight From Hel

  2. Congrats - sounds like the event went really, really well!

    I've no stories as I'm nohwere near that stage yet - but I hope to one day have stories to tell :)

  3. Helen, I only sat behind the table which I actually had to sit down to sign a book. I had many lovely conversations with people who didn't buy my book. Lots of young people too.
    I'm sure we'll be hearing some tales from you soon, Jemi.

  4. Wow, I just wish I had some tales to share with you. I'm glad you had a great time and to hear that it was everyday readers who bought your books. It must be a great feeling.

    Good luck with the next one.

  5. Glad the signing went well.

    I recently discovered Auntie Anne's pretzels last month when traveling...they really are terrific.

  6. Jamara, it was such a great feeling to have so many people I'd never met before come up and really want my book.
    How about those Auntie Anne's pretzels, Haleine, I could eat them every day though I'm sure that wouldn't be good for me.

  7. That sounds like such an awesome day, Sue! And I definitely buy your books for the pure enjoyment of them. Beyond the Gate is on my wishlist for my TBR pile. I'm so glad it went so well for you!

  8. Thanks, Ava. Strangers can never replace seeing the faces of my friends at a book signing but I did feel good to know these people wanted my book for no other reasons than its own merits.

  9. So cool they rolled out the red carpet - and the red tablecloth - for you! Glad your signing went so well.
    Can we clone Joyce? :)

  10. I agree, Cate, I would love to clone her at all the local Borders Stores.

  11. Congratz, Susan. Sounds like it went very well.