The other week I was talking with Paul Kozlowski of Other Press about studies that have been done on what gets a reader to actually purchase a book. As we all cynically assume, when it comes to purchasing a physical book from a brick-and-mortar store, reviews hardly matter at all—it’s all about the cover and the placement. This is obvious, sort of distressing (see previous post about the doom and gloom that tends to taint the covers of a lot of works of international literature), but also emphasizes the impact that a great display can have on getting certain books into the hands of readers.
So to that end—and to help promote at least one awesome bookstore that are helping promote the Best Translated Book Award—I thought I’d post this pictures of a display that Boswell Book Company put together in honor of the BTBAs. (If you’re not familiar with Boswell, it took over the former Harry W. Schwartz store that was on Downer Ave. in Milwaukee. It’s owned by Daniel Goldin—an amazing bookseller who shocked me with his intimate knowledge of Rochester when I first moved here.)
(Special thanks to Stacie Willilams for sending these along!)
We’re a couple days behind, but this month’s featured bookstore is The Booksmith in San Francisco’s historic Haight Ashbury neighborhood. The store opened in 1976 by Gary Frank, who recently sold the store to Christin Evans and Praveen Madan.
The Booksmith has a long history of hosting great events, and looking at the upcoming schedule, this is definitely still the case. Tomorrow Douglas Rushkoff will be speaking about Life Inc., and more relevant to this website, on Thursday, June 25th, the next meeting of “Found in Translation,” The Booksmith’s reading group, will meet to discuss Yoko Tawada’s The Naked Eye.
Later this month we’ll post an interview with Julie Boyer (who is from Italy and started the Found in Translation book club) and some other special Booksmith features . . . But for now, all of the books referenced in our posts will link to The Booksmith’s online catalog, making it easy to purchase titles directy from one of California’s great indie bookstores.
During her time at Three Lives, McNally Robinson, and now the wholesaler BookStream, Jessica has become one of the most knowledgeable booksellers out there. She’s the posterchild for the American Booksellers Association’s Emerging Leaders Program (which exists to “retain, develop, and support the industry’s future innovators and leaders” withing bookselling) and has always had plans of opening her own bookstore in Brooklyn.
Well, last week she won the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition sponsored by Citigroup Foundation and the Brooklyn Public Library’s Business Library, receiving $15,000 to go towards her goal of opening a store.
She has a complete write-up of the ceremony at her blog, including some info on her future plans:
There will be a lot of details to work through — where and how to receive and deposit the money, how to use this as leverage to get additional grants and loans. To be fair, it’s less than a tenth of what I’ve calculated I’ll need. But it’s fifteen thousand dollars more than I had before, not to mention the $5,000 in in-kind gifts: consulting services, marketing services, a Chamber of Commerce membership, even a gift certificate to Bogota. And perhaps more importantly, the experts of the Brooklyn Business Library think my plan is viable — is the MOST viable, out of all the ones they’ve seen. Kathleen, the Citibank rep responsible for creating the contest and the head judge, told me that it was my presentation that made the difference — that the judges were skeptical about the wisdom of opening an independent bookstore given all they’d heard, but I sold them on the idea with my data and my passion.
Not to get too sentimental, but Jessica’s pretty awesome—if for nothing else than what she did to promote Mark Binelli’s Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!—and I really hope she’s able to parlay this into all the funding necessary to launch her own store. If there’s anyone out there who’s taken all the right steps, done all the right research to ensuring a break-even business like a bookstore will work, it’s Jessica.
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To have watched from one of your patios
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from the bank of shadow to have watched
the scattered lights
my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
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