Monday, January 15, 2007

Things I have discussed in the last week

Things I have discussed in the last week with my customers:

1. Why we’re closing. (Numerous reasons.)

2. What we’re all doing after the store closes. (Your guess is as good as mine.)

3. Why we won’t be absorbed into the larger store just blocks away. (No open positions.)

4. Whether or not the books will get any cheaper. (This from both the vultures and the regulars; the regulars get a truthful response.)

5. What we really meant when we were saying we wouldn’t be getting any new books. (See number one. No, really. I’m not hiding a copy of Plum Lovin in the back, I swear.)

6. Who wrote Huckleberry Finn and was I sure. (Mark Twain. Mark Twain! I fear for this nation’s youth.)

Things I have discussed in the last week with my coworkers:

1. Whether or not Wendy Werris retracts her assertion that chain stores are responsible for the dumbing down of America’s youth in further on in her article, “Chain of Fools?” or if she simply comes to terms with the fact that she needs us dim bulbs. (I have been commissioned by the boss to tackle this in a highly rant-tastic fashion—stay tuned.)

2. Whether or not Borders hooking up with will have any affect on the online book community, and what they mean when they call Gather the MySpace for adults. (And for that matter, who had heard of Gather before this.)

3. Speaking of MySpace, is it really worth it from a marketing point of view to have a MySpace page if your book isn’t specifically teen or music orientated. (Group thought is no, simply because they’re hard to navigate.)

4. Whether or not an author should have a regular website as well as a MySpace (yes) and how they could manipulate Google to come up first in the search engine. (‘Cause scrolling through two or three pages to find the real author website/MySpace is a pain.)

5. Why the heck Kate Brian’s character Reed (from her YA series Private) continued to be in awe and worship of the Billings girls when they were everything she professed to hate. (and how we could get our hands on the newest novel coming out in April.)

6. What books we were going to buy when the prices got lower. (Hey! What? We’re human.)

7. What we’re going to be doing when the store closes.

Overlap? A little.

Hard to motivate? A lot. At this point we’re just pushing stock around to best maximize our sales, and that’s a little depressing (hence the non-postage). But I’ll be back with something later tonight!


jmc said...

Re: #5. Exactly! I read the first two books of the series and wondered the same thing...then I just let go, no third book for me.

Marta said...

But BSC, are you absolutely, positively, really, really sure that Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn? I'm cracking up here.

On to other points. I first heard about through a news story announcing a writing contest that their CEO insanely called, "An 'American Idol' for thinking people." The horror! The horror! also claims to be just like MySpace, except it's for adults. The difference being that all teens go on MySpace, and no adult has even heard of Other than that these sites are EXACTLY the same.

Do websites, blogs, social networks, YouTube clips, etc., help book sales? I have no frickin clue -- which means I've got something in common with the CEO of

Dawn Firelight said...

But it wasn't Mark Twain! It was JK Rowling! ;-)

The idea that thinking people would need an 'American Idol' is contradictory. For that matter, if an adult needed something like MySpace, why not just use MySpace instead of some upstart no one's even heard of? I don't get it...

I do think websites, blogs etc make a difference, websites in particular. Especially if there are writing samples for me to read. I love author websites and have often bought a book I normally would not have, had I not seen the author's website first. Of course, I'm just a tiny, tiny drop in a vast ocean.

By the way, I'm sorry to hear your store is closing. I do so love bookstores...All the best to you and your colleagues.

Mags said...

Here's some free SEO advice for authors and everyone else. (That's Search Engine Optimization.) Consultants are normally paid tremendous sums of money for this information. I researched it for my day job and also incorporated the tips that worked for me.

1. Nobody really knows how the Google algorithm (which controls ranking of search engine results) works unless they work for Google and then I'm not even really sure a lot of people know everything about it. It's like the Colonel's Secret Recipe and probably held on a need-to-know basis. Anybody who tells you they do know and will get your Web site on Google if you pay them fantastic sums of money is most likely lying.

2. Google loves fresh content, especially when it comes from blogs. Get a blog and update it regularly with interesting information that readers will want to hear. Make sure (this is important) that your blog is set up so that the subject of your blog post becomes part of the URL for the permalink of that post. That way, Google will rank it higher for that search term and people searching for that subject will find it more quickly. Then make sure that you give your informative entries relevant subject names. The ranting about your publisher/agent/mother-in-law/boyfriend posts can have the cutesy entry names. Oh, and use tags/categories, and make sure that the blog is set up so that the category names are part of the URL for that category. Get your blog linked by other popular blogs (by posting interesting material and responding to posts on that blog so that the writer sees them WITHOUT SPAMMING of course) and that will also improve your ranking.

3. Conversely, static sites will rank lower. Don't set up your site and leave it exactly the same forever. Make sure your (regularly updated!) blog links back to your Web site so that the Googlebot crawls your site when the blog is crawled. And please, for the love of all that is geeky, use web standards and cascading style sheets instead of Flash and image maps and embedded tables inside tables inside tables in your site design. (Google "Web standards") The Googlebot can't read pictures of text.

4. Register your site with the Open Directory Project ( A listing there will bring you to the attention of the Googlebot. It will not help your ranking, but you'll get crawled at least and associated with the topic under which your site is listed. (Also you can request a crawl here.)

5. Register your site with Yahoo, even though it takes forever to get on the index if you don't pay them.

6. Google HATES faux pages of search terms meant to increase search engine ranking and will rank your page lower. Don't try to trick the Googlebot. Feed it well with fresh, nutritious content and it will love you and visit you often and reward you with higher rankings. Think about the blogs/sites you read and visit often. What brings you back to them? Think about what the readers you wish to attract to your own site want to read and that will keep them coming back. Then provide it.

Marta said...

Thanks for all the wonderful info, Mags.

Here's something COMPLETELY UNRELATED. Publishers Weekly is taking nominations for Bookseller of the Year. I'm nominating our very own Bookseller Chick for all she's done for authors and readers. More info:

Marta said...

Thanks for all the wonderful info, Mags.

Here's something COMPLETELY UNRELATED. Publishers Weekly is taking nominations for Bookseller of the Year. I'm nominating our very own Bookseller Chick for all she's done for authors and readers. More info:

Anonymous said...

Okay, take two! ...stupid login issues!

Ahem, best to all of you!

When will someone write the comprehensive autopsy on American bookselling? 'cause it's dead!

Fortunately it's a social force of nature and not a mortal creature, it can be brought back! -but not by the 'brain-trust' in Ann Arbor. yeah, that'll boost sales. (can you tell I'm having a bad day?)

Simon Haynes said...

3. Yes
4. Yes

Myspace isn't just for teens any more. I joined last September and if I had to guess I'd say the average age of my contacts is 30+ (And that's over 1000 of them, so we're not talking a couple of data points.)

There are numerous groups on writing, books, indie bookstores, libraries, teen lit etc etc, and most of the people in those groups are my age, not kids.

A social network is a network, whether you're fifteen or fifty.

MJ said...

I'm in a similar situation at my bookstore, and the one I'm really getting tired of is
"I haven't been here in months, but I heard you're closing or something?"
"Yes ... blah blah blah standard spiel"
"But you CAN'T close! What will I DO if you close???? *IIIIIIIIII* NEEED this store!!!!!"

Coming from someone who almost never comes in, to a bookseller who has been working in the same place for eight years? Yeah, it grates.

Anonymous said...

MJ, I feel your pain. Our store is closing to move to a BETTER, NEWER, MORE ACCESSIBLE location about 5 minutes away form our spot and it's nothing but Shakespearian sorrow! (Shakespeare, didn't he write Huck Finn?)

I revel in keeping stoic and not reacting to their pleas. "Not my call ma'm."

...hee hee hee.

Kate R said...

I just want to make sure you'll still blog once the store is gone. I shall have to write a shirty letter to someone if you stop writing in here.

I can't decide if I'll blame Amazon or the Big Stores and so will write multiple long notes to them both. You've been warned.

Lynne W. Scanlon said...

I'm really sorry about your store.

I blogged last week about independent bookstores. A mystery entrepreneur weighed in with his opinion and a suggestion. I'm working on follow-up posting about a "pretend" bookstore. I hope you will drop by and give some insight and advice.

Best of luck.

Glad to hear your terrific blog will continue.

Lynne AKA The Wicked Witch of Publishing