By Erin L. Cox
Bookselling is an art. When we talk about the business of publishing, sometimes we lose sight of the fact that what compels a lot of readers is the love of a book. To get to the heart of that relationship is how writers reach their audience and the conduit is more often than not a bookseller.
As we watch the sad news about Borders unfold this week, it was great to hear that bookselling is thriving someplace as I did at the “Bookselling in the 21st Century” panel at the Tools of Change Conference this week in New York. I won’t go into the ins and outs of that discussion because I think you can find the details on their site, Twitter feed, and various other places, but the biggest thing that came from that panel of brilliance was that bookstores or bookselling sites need to be community-builders.
Bookstores have long been a place for communities to come together to discuss ideas and share experiences. I think it’s important now, more than ever, to get back to that idea and empower booksellers even more.
As book reviewing is losing some of its local focus (I’ll get into that in my next blog post), it is imperative that booksellers find what relates to their customers and share that with them. That increases as we focus more and more on only the top tier of books released and start to lose some of those gems that would appeal to readers of all stripes.
Because my local bookseller happened to be on the panel (Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo from Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn), I want to use what she does as an example as some ideas for booksellers around the country/world to use to promote bookselling. Through social media outreach, powerful events pairing popular bloggers and debut authors, through getting us involved in actions and events at the store (I helped stain bookshelves when they were first opening!), makes me feel like Greenlight is a bookstore that I helped build.
Tons of great suggestions were made on that panel, but with bookstores and online book retailers becoming ever more important every day for how writers reach their readers, what are some other ideas to help build a community?