This last year was full of changes and adventures for me, some professional and some personal, so I'm going to try to do a bit of a wrap for 2014 and share some news while I'm at it. Probably more news than wrap, but who's counting.
Most of the booksellers I know and do business with had a very good year, some had record years. In previous quarters some attributed it to Borders' closing, or added revenue streams in internet or print-on-demand, or increasing focus on events, both in-house and off-site. The one constant I saw was the intense effort they all made on all fronts. Public relations, social media, outreach, and community involvement all played bigger parts in this increased success than in previous years. Just the sum total of so much effort by so many employees, owners, and partners over so many years seems to be culminating in the last few quarters.
All I do is sell remainders to a few (hundred) customers in this industry, but I do get to talk to lots of participants in this bookselling success story who are not involved in bargain buying, and it strikes me that all of them are so professional and hard working that a positive result is not surprising. It is because of the constant engagement in every process on every level of business by so many of these people that customer bases are increasing and readers are coming back to bookstores to buy their books.
Up until early October when I had to take a few weeks off, my sales had been going up steadily because of my customers' successes. More buyers seem to be buying across the board, rather than staying within their old comfort zones. Children's buyers have turned into general buyers, cookbook buyers are buying more nonfiction. There is more willingness to try new things. There might also be a willingness to try old things too; I've seen an odd uptick in faxes and mailed copies of orders.
My days as an independent sales rep have come to an end and I have returned to Book Country Clearing House, where I was from 2004 to 2008. It feels good to be back home, and after all this time away to see how far they've come in so many areas. I will devote my next post just to Book Country, but suffice it to say it's good to be back and I'll make sure it is good for my customers as well.
Writing this blog has been a fulfilling and unexpectedly positive experience. I have been at trade shows where someone will see my name tag and say "Oh, I read your blog and I love it!" I'm just writing about bargain bookselling, so you can imagine my surprise. I thought about how I could continue it now that I am employee, working for one wholesaler. The challenge is to keep writing about the industry and the extended family of booksellers who keep it going, while at the same time working to bring more and better business to my new employers. This was one thing I could not think through without help, so I talked to the owners, Richard and Sandy Roberts, and they both said "please keep doing what you do," so, with their blessing, I will continue. Thank you Richard and Sandy!
And thank you all for your business and support over the last year. I look forward to working with you to make 2015 even better than 2014.