Connecting with the community, inspiring and empowering staff, and focusing energy on work that matters are three of the most popular New Year’s resolutions among booksellers for 2018.
Bookselling This Week has compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions from members of the American Booksellers Association’s Booksellers Advisory Council and ABC Advisory Council. The members were asked to share their top goals for the New Year — whether big, small, serious, fun, or somewhere in between — to help inspire other booksellers to set their own resolutions for the coming year.
Jeff Deutsch, director, Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago, Illinois: We Seminarians are filled with aspirations, but if we were to pick just two resolutions, we would focus on more deliberately contributing to the community that we reflect, and we would stop spending so much time on the 10,000 things we do each day that have little import or impact on our business, our staff, or our community, and instead focus our energies on the things with wider reach.
Drew Sieplinga, events coordinator at Wild Rumpus Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Our New Year’s resolutions at Wild Rumpus are to continue to expand our connections with diverse community organizations, and to use our new ABACUS data (we’re new users!) to improve our bottom line.
Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar, Denver, Colorado: Every year, the whole staff meets up in January to go over our previous year’s goals, to see what we accomplished and what we have left to do, and set goals for the upcoming year. We have some big changes coming in 2018. Our biggest task will be the completion of our new structure behind BookBar — a two-story, 2,000-square-foot space with a dedicated event space and book art gallery on the first floor and greatly improved storage on the second floor. For us, 2018 will be getting through another construction project and then re-grouping into our new space and all of the new opportunities it will bring.
Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Georgia: As a team, we have tons of resolutions, too numerous to list here. So I’ll share my main resolution as the business owner/founder. I resolve to let my management team do their jobs with minimal interference (ahem ... micromanaging) from me. I will remind myself that I hire incredibly smart, dynamic people so that I don’t have to do every bit of work all the time. This year, I will refocus on what I love the most about my job (customer interaction, PR, public speaking, creative ventures, and more) and let my coworkers manage the other store operations.
Luisa Smith, buying director, Book Passage, Corte Madera, San Francisco, and Sausalito, California: Our store resolution for 2018 is to focus more on staff development. Our staff is our greatest asset and deserve all of the support we can offer. I am not completely sure what this will look like, but I know anything we do to help them grow as booksellers and feel cared for as individuals will mean great things for years to come.
John Christensen, manager of Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wisconsin: 1) We have such lively debates and reactions to literary news in the store among ourselves, and we want to bring our customers into more of that — so we are going to really see if we can make our social media feeds and blog much more of an ongoing conversation with our customers. 2) To do more authorless events, where we draw on ourselves and our community to celebrate great new books we’re excited about. 3) To systematically match our galleys with our frontlist orders several weeks ahead, so that we can read as much as possible before books arrive, and submit to the Indie Next List more regularly.
Elisa Thomas, bookseller at Cellar Door Books, Riverside, California: Our resolution is to foster more community outreach, including trying to start a festival-of-books type of event for the Inland Empire. We are also trying to create more of a partnership with the arts community in Riverside, as well as the greater Inland Empire. Lastly, we’re hoping for the best with a new summer-camp-type venture this year.
Lauren Savage, owner of The Reading Bug, San Carlos, California: In order to keep our brick-and-mortar business going strong, we have grown our Reading Bug Box subscription service to close to 1,000 customers nationwide. Our resolution is to find new ways to grow this business and try to find more people to staff it! Right now, we are filling these boxes with just two of us!!!! Aaaaaaaack!
Tom Beans, owner of Dudley’s Bookshop Café, Bend, Oregon: For the first few years I lived in Bend, Oregon, I couldn’t make sense of the people who lived here who never spent time doing all the great outdoor things that Central Oregon has to offer. Now that I’ve owned Dudley’s for close to three years, I realize I’ve become one of those people. A personal New Year’s resolution is to spend less time in the store and more time skiing, fishing, kayaking, biking, climbing, etc. I hope to catch the powder flu a lot more this winter, numbers be damned.
Specifically for the store, I have two resolutions: 1) Continue trying to make my baristas better readers and booksellers. 2) Standardize a lot of our procedures and forms. When we were small and slow, it was no big deal. With the growth we’ve had in the last 24 months, it’s rapidly becoming a necessity. I suspect I’ll be planted at the Winter Institute session for creating forms and procedure checklists.
Bill Reilly, owner of the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, New York: Our resolution is to act on our just-released ABACUS data to improve our bottom line. This is part of my personal commitment from last year’s Winter Institute.
Matt Norcross, owner, and Sara Grochowski, children’s specialist and buyer, of McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Michigan:
Matt: Become more knowledgeable about poetry! (General consensus for many of our booksellers was to read outside their comfort zone!)
Sara: Expand our school outreach and collaboration, including book fairs, author visits, and grant assistance!
Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Maine: My New Year’s resolution is to delegate more. In fact, I’ll start with my New Year’s resolution. Hey Hannah, what is our New Year’s resolution?
Hannah Zimmerman: Sorry, Kenny. New Year’s resolutions don’t take effect until the new year, so you can’t delegate making your New Year’s resolutions until then.
Kenny: Denied! In that case, our New Year’s resolution is to grow our gift subscription program. It’s been a huge hit with the subscribers. In fact, most of our sales have come from subscribers telling their friends about it. I want to do more with the program in 2018.
Steve Salardino, manager of Skylight Books, Los Angeles, California: We have continuing goals and new goals, but the ones we really want to conquer are the ones that keep getting pushed back because of all the other things on our to-do list. So, in 2018, we will finally recreate our office space. It is a broken system of filing and phones and boxes and old posters, and we have been putting Band-Aids on it for long enough. Up in the corner, I see a box of DVD+Rs, and we haven’t used those for database backups in a decade(?). I bet there are some old Ingram Books in Print CDs floating around somewhere up here. Time for a streamlined new system … time for some life-changing magic … time for some joy to be sparked. Also on our list is to revamp our cards and sidelines area. We were fortunate enough to get some help from a [James] Patterson grant to help redo our kids’ section, and it FELT SO GOOD. Now to find a way to beautify the cards and sidelines!
Jeanne Costello, book buyer at Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, Colorado: My New Year’s resolution is to inspire our staff to participate more on the Edelweiss Buzz forum so we can use our “book-maker” powers for good.
Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers, Detroit, Michigan: Our resolve last year after Winter Institute and Children’s Institute was that we would work toward having more national authors by participating where we could on their national tours. We have succeeded in that wish and plan to continue that in 2018. We also want to continue to align our offerings with the will and wishes of our community, NPR books, indie books, and prize books, both state and national, that fit our nonfiction categories. Furthermore, we want to continue to involve professors and students from our neighboring universities. We also intend to increase our relationship with social justice organizations that work in and with our community. We will expand our partnership with Detroit Public Library, Detroit Historical Museum, and Detroit Institute of Arts. Making authors and books a natural fit with the many resources of these institutions, as well as leadership in the literary life of our Detroit community, is our clear and present goal.
Lacy Simons, owner of hello hello books, Rockland, Maine: Mine would have to be: Stop spending time/expending energy on things we don’t do often/well/profitably, and more closely analyze what we do often/well/profitably and do that a bunch more. Also to find a pile of money on the ground.
Noelle Santos, owner of The Lit. Bar, Bronx, New York: My New Year’s resolution is to finally open the only bookstore in the Bronx after a three-year year startup journey (ETA: first quarter 2018). I am THIS excited to execute my vision, secret Pinterest boards, and the collective wisdom I’ve received from my bookselling family!
Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas: We are going to work on making sure that multiple people know how to perform certain duties. As we have grown, we have started to silo ourselves. We realized this when two key staff members were out of town and there was no procedure paper on how to fill a school web order.
Aaron Curtis, buyer at Books & Books, Miami, Florida: I will continue increasing online sales by keeping signed and local title listings refreshed daily. I want to build relationships with first-time customers by educating them on why shopping locally and independently is important, and I want to welcome returning customers with enthusiasm. I will continue to use the “Here’s What You Just Did” IndieCommerce talker on the back of Internet invoices for Florida customers — because it seems to help repeat business — and will draft one we can use for customers outside of Florida and start using it.
Glenda Childs, owner of Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops, Doylestown and Lahaska, Pennsylvania: My New Year’s resolution for the Doylestown and Lahaska Bookshops in 2018 is to focus on our store environment, or climate, ensuring that our stores are especially welcoming and comfortable for customers and offer them unique and extraordinary literary shopping experiences they will remember and tell others about.
Stephanie Hochschild, owner of The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Illinois: Be a force for print books: Expand horizons, encourage conversation, and bring families and our community closer together. Foster the next generation of readers by introducing authors and books to students.
Continue the conversation!