Friday, July 31, 2009
A year in the life
I manage to fit a few thousand books into this space, and sales have been steady, considering my books are mostly your standard run-of-the-mill used hardcovers. (Also considering nearly anything run-of-the-mill can now be bought on Amazon for a dollar. Ho hum.) Another view:
I tend my booth once every two weeks. I take in any new books I happen to have bought, and rearrange things, and tidy up. The rest of the time I almost forget I'm a bookseller, I'm so wrapped up in painting. To wit, what I'm thinking about today, somewhat sadly: one of the biggest surprises of my life thus far was the time - it wasn't an exact day, more like a distinct suspicion that grew undeniable - I realized that having a bookshop of my own wasn't going to happily occupy me for the rest of my life. It came as quite a shock to find out I had other fish to fry. After all, I'd spent the previous twenty years of my life fairly obsessed with all things bookish, so it made sense to me that this trend would continue indefinitely. I don't know what did it, finally. The cost of doing business? A few great years (financially) at the shop, then a few not so great years? An internal imperative to pursue painting full-time? Our moving house, away from Bangor, to the coast? A gradual disenchantment with the book-buying public? The relative boredom of online selling as a way of life?
Most of those things, I suppose. Though I'm not the type to stop doing something just because of some minor disenchantment - I'm much too much of a romantic optimist for that. So I'm still figuring it out. I haven't ruled out the possibility of having a bookshop again someday. With an art gallery attached.
A painter-friend asked me recently what I would be doing with my life if I wasn't a painter. I thought for a minute and couldn't come up with anything else. I'd already been a bookseller, you see...
How about a split between mainstream publishers selling the usual junk and high production classics for bibliophiles?
Create your niche and furnish it with books and beauty and booklovers will find you...