On the second Tuesday morning of every month, Warwick’s, in La Jolla, California, hosts “Coffee With a Bookseller.” The store serves free coffee and scones, and staff member Seth Marko leads customers on a “casual, informal journey” through new releases and Warwick’s staff picks.
“It can be a great way to connect with your reading community,” said Marko. “People love that it's informal, and I usually field a barrage of questions on how the book industry works, which is always fun to talk about. I love to point out to people that you don't get ‘Coffee With a Bookseller’ from Amazon or B&N! It gets people thinking and keeps them shopping local.”
The 10:00 a.m. event has grown from a couple of attendees, when it first started in January, to about a dozen, “which is pretty much perfect,” said Marko. “It gets more and more popular every month as word gets around. People really enjoy the ‘insiders’ look at what's new, so when they come to one Coffee, they almost always come back the next month.”
Attendees receive 20 percent off any of the six to 12 titles typically discussed. Books mentioned at August's edition included: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, Star Island by Carl Hiaasen, and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant.
Warwick’s is considering expanding the series. Marko said, “We've discussed a nonfiction branch with John Hughes, another of our booksellers.” For the holidays, the store is considering hosting a gift book/cookbook version.
Customers have a good time, and they buy books. “People love a discount, so when you couple that with a passionate bookseller in your ear, it usually translates to decent sales figures,” said Marko. “Last month I mentioned the paperback release of Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. and told everybody that it was my favorite book from 2009. We did quite well with that one that day.”
For the bookseller, it’s an ideal sales scenario – the customer is seated and caffeinated. “Anytime I get to just talk about books I've read and enjoyed with a relatively captive audience is a lot of fun,” said Marko. “The best part of being a bookseller is getting the chance to tell someone about the books you love, right? What better way to do that than over a cuppa joe and a scone?”