This is not another one of my bookstore-of-the-future/how-to-save-brick-and-mortar-stores posts. This is about a bookstore I dreamed up while writing The Proviso four years ago, the one that spawned the previous bookstore posts. Specifically, it’s Giselle’s bookstore, which was torched, causing her to have to reboot her life at the grand ol’ age of 30 by going to law school. (Because that’s what everybody does when they have to reboot their lives, right? Right?)
This bookstore was in the River Market area of Kansas City, Missouri, and most closely resembles this building:
Giselle describes it this way:
I owned a bookstore for seven years […] I shared space with a patisserie on one side of me and a confectionery on the other. Maisy and Coco weren’t my business partners, exactly; we just figured if we knocked down our walls and unified our décor, we’d all make more money and it worked. […] Decadence wasn’t a bookstore with food. It was a destination. I stocked romance novels of all kinds. Couple that with Maisy’s gourmet chocolates and wine, and Coco’s pastries, the events we put on every weekend… I was doing very well; we all were. I was never going to be independently wealthy, but I made a lot of money doing something I loved.
I’ve been percolating this post for a long time, and after many, many Twitter discussions on the relationship between independent brick-and-mortar booksellers and the romance genre (not good) versus Borders’ and Barnes & Nobles’ willingness to step in where the independent booksellers won’t (but Borders, the more romance-friendly store, went bye-bye), I decided to do yet another perfect bookstore post.
Behold, my real idea of the perfect bookstore:
And I still think this combination of products and location would make some serious bank. (Add an Espresso machine in the basement…) (A used books section on the second floor…) (Events at lunch and on the weekends…)
UPDATE: August 18, 2015, over 4 years later…
I was re-inserting pictures that got lost in the move so a friend could link to them, so I figured I’d add a couple of notes.
1. Since YA has become a bigger part of the market now, that section would get expanded.
2. I’m reediting The Proviso, and Giselle adds this to her description:
“Wine, chocolate, sex. […] We had PMS survival kits. Better than Midol. Men came in specifically for those.”
Trust me, I’d send my husband across the metro to Decadence to get me a PMS survival kit.
Go read this and all the comments, then come back. Now we’ll recap.
Footprint: A narrow storefront on the county square of a small midwestern city, with three floors. (I didn’t bother with the third floor sketch. Use your imagination.)
Complaint: It’s not a “real” bookstore.
Disclaimers: 1) I’m not an industrial designer so don’t ding me on scale, lack of bathrooms, and walking space, etc etc etc. 2) This is an IDEA. Don’t take me to task as if I’m on the cusp of taking over the world and implementing all these in a grand sweep tonight while you sleep.
Goal: To make the bookstore a destination, not a stop on your to-do list.
I. Print on Demand
This is the key to blending the Espresso and “real” books:
A. Do you know what it is? It’s a catalog holder, like the ones at auto parts stores, where you stand at the counter and find which part you need for your car. Only these won’t have catalogs. They’ll have cover flats, separated by genre, subdivided by subgenre.
B. You will sit at the counter and flip through them. You will have a little wifi gizmo tied to the store’s computers. You will enter your account number and you will order what you want by pointing the gizmo at the bar code. Your order will go downstairs to the Espresso machines.
C. If you want an electronic version, it can be wifi’d do your device and/or you can have a CD/DVD burned, and/or you can have a download link emailed to you.
D. If you have already ordered what you want from a home computer or smartphone or other device, it will be waiting for you at the customer service counter (“Espresso Order Counter”).
E. The store will have a website that functions like any other ebook third-party retailer.
You may purchase the most current electronic reading devices and be advised by someone who actually knows what they are, how they work, and can teach you. There will be workshops.
III. “Real” books
A. The store will have at least one copy of whatever the buyer knows his customers like. He won’t have to order more because he’ll “Espresso it.” That way, customers can browse actual books.
B. The third floor will be dedicated to art books, children’s books, collector’s editions, with plenty of comfortable chairs. Yes. You will have to climb stairs. Get over it.
In the basement there will be a coffee/tea bar with pastries and chocolate, possibly a small deli. There will be ample room to hang out.
A. You can watch the Espresso machines through the glass window.
B. There will be book club nights.
C. The Espresso books will always be brought upstairs so you don’t have to go downstairs if you don’t want to.