Nowhere Bookshop is currently in transformation mode…
(The ancient tile is still safe under that rubble, btw.)
Currently we’re doing planning for design and layout apparently now I have to start thinking about actual books. Who knew?
The shop is big but not big enough for every type of book we’d like so I wanted your thoughts on genres. Personally when I go into a bookstore I go to memoirs, nonfiction, sci-fi, horror, art, short stories, YA, graphic novels and the children’s section. That means that my view of bookstores is a bit limited so I wanted to see what parts are your favorites so I can make sure I didn’t miss anything or underestimate a section.
Help a future bookseller out?
Also, a lot of you have asked how you can help support and get involved with Nowhere and I think I have an idea for something really fun but I still need to work on it so stay tuned.
PS. If it won’t let you choose more than one genre you can click “return to poll” and add another vote for another section.
150 thoughts on “Books!”
Read comments below or add one.
Science fiction, definitely science fiction, and perhaps taxidermy, because taxidermy is such a feature of your life.
Sci-fi/fantasy is a must! 🙂
I wanted to vote for everything! But my top picks are fiction, women’s fiction, cookbooks, and (if the store has it, games!).
My list is exactly the same as yours, plus fantasy. Excited for you!
I tried so hard to vote for like 5 different options! I have to stop by kids for the child but personally I love a good murder mystery! (and most true crime stuff)
You should definitely have some feng shui/clutter clearing books! I highly recommend all of Karen Kingston’s books, especially “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.” It changed my life! I’m also a big fan of Studs Terkel’s oral history books, such as “Working” and “Hard Times.” And for sure you should have the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon! 🙂
I have the hardest time finding essay collections in bookstores! If they’re funny, they’re not in humor. If they aren’t funny, they aren’t in nonfiction. They’re usually scattered somewhere weird.
I wish someone would just have a section titled “Essay Collections”, so me and my anxiety wouldn’t have to work up the courage to ask someone for help!
I think interactive journals would be great! I know there are several that are along the lines of , “destroy this book!” Humor, all the weird humor too!
I like a good reference section but realize you may be limited on room. Also enjoy a robust animal/pet section
Poetry and classics are two totally different things. I’ve read repeatedly that more and more young people are turning to poetry as poetry becomes more and more relatable. (Tyler Knott Gregson is one poet who springs to mind, but there are many others with instagram and YouTube followings. Y’all also have a thriving poetry scene in San Antonio (Sun City Poets) with poetry in the newspaper and on buses. Tying in to your local poetry/author community through readings can be a great way to build traffic, too.
So I often look at the poetry section but never classics.
Maps! Readers can also go to Nowhere to get somewhere.
I vote for EVERYTHING, but alas, you can’t have it all.
Local interest is good, unless there are other shops that do it well. If so, you can save your space.
“Other” would be indie authors. There are some incredible books by indie publishers.
A few gorgeous, carefully curated children’s books are a please-and-thank-you.
I enjoy a robust reference section, and animal/pet, along with non fiction, lit, and mystery.
Crafts or sure…I have a creepy dollhouse too so always need new ideas! I do creepy black Christmas trees too, so Goth decor is a fun area too
I like a good reference section but realize you may be limited on room. Also enjoy a robust animal/pet section. Of course lit fiction, non fiction, mystery, and philosophy/theology.
In the age of e-books, I think it makes good business sense to also devote some space to books that don’t work well as e-books. Think art and photography or anything with lots of illustrations, or oversized books like atlases, or books you are supposed to write in, pop-up/pull-out/scratch & sniff books. Also calendars, e-reader covers, and sketch pads. I like books about gardening, interior decorating and architecture; these fill up my bookshelves because who sits and pages through a gardening e-book? But on my kindle you’ll find all the fiction I read every day. (OK, I did buy hard-covers of your books after I read the Kindle version, but I’m weird and weird doesn’t pay the rent.) I want this bookstore to be financially sustainable–so consider devoting a percentage of space to “stuff that pays the rent” and use that to fund “stuff I love and want to share with the world.” –From the dept of unsolicited business advice
I love the non-fiction category. . . the lives of real people doing amazing things and learning about the world is always high on my interest list. Humor is another one that always grabs me. Bill Bryson and Roz Chast spring to mind. Anyone dealing with elderly parents should definitely check out “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant”.
I’m happy to give books of any genre a whirl as long as they whirl me back.
It sounds like it will be awesome!! Any chance of a follow and/or share? <3 <3 <3
I go for RECOMMENDED books, in almost any genre. I grew up in Portland and I’m a sucker for the tags where the employees write their favorite books lately, plus write why they recommend this one. That way I can first see if this employee even likes what I like (no horror for me!) before I know if I’ll like what they suggest. That being said, I read mostly fiction but buy more art books in person because those you really need to see how the photos are.
How about a section in the store for books by readers who follow you? 🙂
Are these all new? I personally love a used book (of any kind). They have history and they smell better…
So exciting! Really looking forward to being at Nowhere for its grand opening! Voted, voted and voted – I like many sections of bookstores, and really, bookstores in general:)
I love spiritual books – i.e. books on mindfulness, meditation, etc.
What do you consider the difference between fiction and general fiction?
Oh Jenny LOVE the photo of you and what you’ve done to the place, there’s nothing like debris all over to make you get the wackies – it’s going to be awesome! Hig Bugs!
I love a local section! In my hometown, I like being able to find a book about history or geography that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. And when I’m away, it’s always good to learn a little about the place I’m visiting. And I’ve found that these types of books make the best gifts!
Nonfiction, history and biography because I am a dull person with no imagination. But I do buy a lot of books.
I like art books
Jenny – I’m so enjoying watching this project evolve. Owning/running a bookstore is my fantasy retirement gig. When I was in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon this SciFi/Fantasy bookstore. I spent hours there, then brought my Edinburgh friends there & spent hours again with them. I thought it was a brilliant idea to just focus on one genre that the owner loves & knows so well. I spent some time talking with him & he has a pretty steady online business as well. I’ve seen other focused bookstores (Cookbooks, etc) and I think that makes a ton of sense in this day of Amazon, and other online shops. You can’t compete by trying to cover everything – where you compete is by focusing on what you know & love and being able to help people find what they want beyond the generic best seller list. Anyways, I’m playing along and home & sending lots of good energy your way. This is the Edinburgh shop –> https://transreal.wordpress.com/
Bummed out about typos that I can’t go fix. I’m playing along AT home. Also, no comma after Amazon. (I might be a little OCD. It’s hard to know.) 😉
I always go to contemporary poetry (like written in the last 20 years poetry), YA and pretty notebooks. If this section exists, books written in other languages. Most places sell how to learn a language book but very few sell things you can read in another language. I love French, italian and german.
Humor comes in fourth. It’s strangely comforting to know that 8.18% of those who voted are my people.
I said in an earlier comment that I’m game for any genre, but then I REALLY thought about it and so I voted because if I ever get to Nowhere, there HAS to be a big burly humour section. (I tried to spell humour without the “u” but it wasn’t funny.)
Fiction, Women’s Fiction and All the Badassery and weirdness of Women’s Humor, Southern humor/craziness that is explaining how proud we are of our Crazy. Just because I’m a stationary whore kooky notebooks, notepads, cursing pens
As a bookstore owner, I would think you’d want to stock books that sell. 😉
I’m weird for my age-group in that I don’t care for sci-fi or fantasy (with a couple special exceptions). I’ll always head for YA first, although honestly the popular YA books in the last decade haven’t interested me much. I’m a sucker for interesting psychology and ‘pseudoscience’ books, basically anything about controversial or ‘different’ ways of thinking and viewing the world and self.
Historical fiction is my fave!! A decent children’s section will get people in there too! Good luck!
I think you need a section devoted to Jenny’s Favorites. Off-beat, quirky, funny books that you would recommend to a friend. We follow you and support Nowhere Books because we love the things you love. I know I will go to Jenny’s Favorites every time I come into the shop. Maybe also a Bloggess Tribe Recommended section.
You don’t have travel books on your list. And you really need to have animal books.
I noticed that Spanish language books received very few votes; since this bookstore will be open in a community that has a very large Spanish population, it would be great to make sure that whatever you stock, it is also available in Spanish- and make sure people know that! I’m sure San Antonio (right??) has Spanish bookstores, but it wouldn’t hurt to have one more- especially if you include things not carried in other stores. It would also be great to have Spanish authors, when you get going.. your bookstore is now on my bucket list! As if I needed any other excuses to go back to San Antonio!
Something a local bookstore does is to feature book recommendations from people who shop there- sometimes, it’s nice to get a non-paid professional recommendation! I’ve seen libraries do this, too.
YA, children’s section, and self-help. Though a good YA or kids’ book is a pretty good source of self-help too… 🙂
Space to place a book on a flat surface and have a look at it, not have to juggle bag, cane, etc and worry about dropping something and breaking a spine. Mine or a book’s! 😀 Cozy chairs are nice, but my local beloved bookstore and the libraries have removed them, because they become homeless encampments. Well, sure! That’s where I’d put a roof over my head! Best wishes in all of this, Jenny.
I find myself looking around the “staff picks” and new arrival displays then setting off to other areas. https://possumscatsthingsgnawingatme.wordpress.com/2019/12/07/house-cats-of-central-ohio-love-triangle/
I’ve been meaning to look into energy healing books-reiki, and also books related to psychic/empathic training-ways to healthfully manage abilities that enhance someone’s quality of life. I think those would constitute two categories-self help and spiritual..I think?! lol!
Also anything related to art/crafting! Love being inspired by beauty…
How about a section for self published?
I mostly read mysteries/thrillers and sci-fi/horror. I asked my mom and she said mysteries/thrillers and non-fiction true-crime stories.
I agree that having a large Spanish-language selection would be ideal in Texas.
Please don’t overlook non-fiction, especially in the nature/science area. And books about dogs!!
(OK, books about cats too).
Please help people like my mom. She will walk into a bookstore and choose gifts off the first table she sees. At our local chain bookstore, this means she buys children’s books without an actual author listed, that contain terrible prose written about whatever holiday is coming soon. Please have a table near the entrance with good gifting books — they can be holiday relevant, or themed in some other way, or just whatever you think people would like to receive as gifts. Book receivers everywhere will love you!
I think a lgbtq section would be important and inclusive
I wouldn’t know what to suggest as I hate reading. So maybe lots of big picture books of dogs pooping or scary clowns.
Obviously I’m a mystery fan myself, having worked at Seattle Mystery Bookshop for years. And the mystery/thriller genre covers a huge expanse. From my experience, something romancey sells. The closest I get to it is romantic urban fantasy (which is darker than you might think), but I swear that a lot of romance buyers keep stores in business.
If I can help in any way short of moving down there to help out, let me know.
Given your location, some westerns should do well.
Also, consider a military history section. Again, given your location I think that might sell well.
I second Diana’s opinion about poetry and classics being different. I love a good poetry book (mostly newer stuff) but generally steer clear of the classics.
Heh. I didn’t realize how narrow my interests are until the only genre that appealed to me was mystery. BUT… in defense of my chosen genre, a mystery can be YA, scifi, middle grade, cooking, historical, non-fiction, etc. etc. etc. So it’s not really that narrow.
SF/F, if there’s a section on fashion/clothing (my local used bookstore has a shelf specifically for fashion and costume books!), and the children’s section (both picture books and MG since I have a 2 yr old and a nearly-9 yr old).
Wow! Looks like you will need an annex in 5 years to have all these other suggestions in store! <laugh!>
Rather than cause more avalanche of “yahtahdo’s” thought I’d mention looking at the websites of some of the bookstores I have watched starting out, wondering if they’d ever survive.
THEY HAVE and SO WILL YOU AND THE NOWHERE BOOKSHOP .
Some that are loved (for reference of types of books they carry check their website?):
Arlington/Falls Church/DC Region:
One More Page Books (launched in 2011,tiny place, great atmosphere and book club, also sells wine and chocolates)
Antigone Books (started out many decades ago, seemed to be a radical FemiNazi place.
Now it’s grown into a place where everyone shops for hot topics and thoughtful reality reads as well as fiction and nonfiction etc.)
https://bookmans.com/ This place is absurdly big for a small bookstore, I’m only referencing the ambiance of this place.
Bookmans Used Books New and Used books and digital media, an absurd amount of things, but the atmosphere is inviting and incredibly live and let live: old comfy chairs, restrooms, no need to bring your own dust, weird glassware and art stuff you can buy–like a yard sale exploded in a bookstore and its not bad atall…friendly staff, just run down enough to make everyone feel like like their next big adventure could begin at any moment. 🙂
Jenny Lawson you are destined to succeed.
Comfy chairs are good.
Proud of you,
Thanks for letting us vote twice!!
What if you put up the exact same survey, but backwards. As in “what section do you NEVER visit in a bookstore?” That way you can look at the least-visited genres and consider leaving those out, since you’re probably going to INCLUDE a lot of the most loved ones..
Does that make sense? Decide what to leave out as well as what to include? Not because I’m a negative Nellie, but because it’s another way of looking at the problem that might help narrow down your choices. If NOBODY clicks “DIY” then you might consider not having a DIY section. Unless you love that stuff. Then, remember you’re the boss and to hell with the polls.
I agree that Bookmans is an excellent used bookstore! They also have locations in Phoenix/Mesa and Flagstaff as well. I’ve been to all of them and love them.
I don’t like that scifi and fantasy always get lumped together.. not a big fan of fantasy but love me some scifi, but then more recently I have need mowing down Lee Childs Jake Reacher and loving it!!
I so love “staff favorites”. This goes both for wine and books. A tiny write up of what it is and why it’s loved is helpful. Again, this is interchangeable for wine and books.
Someone above mentioned a LGBTQ section. I’m going to cast a vote AGAINST this(and similar sections such as women’s fiction and african american fiction), because segregating books in that way gives the sense that “these books over here are for you, but not for those other people.” This is counterproductive, because everybody could benefit from reading those books, yet they tend not to if the books have been labeled(by the library or bookseller) as not for them.
I’ve followed this blog for a while and I trust Jenny to stock a selection of books such that diversity shouldn’t be a problem, but I do hope that she won’t step backwards into the trap of segregating them. Put them in fiction, or YA, or SFF, or history, or wherever they belong based on their content. Not based on the orientation/gender/race of the primary characters, or worse, purely that of the author.
True crime. I added it under the “other” column. I hear right for that section and the new fiction section.
I voted! 😀
First, there should be something San Antonio-centric (though since I’m not there I have no idea what that means). That will help make the place special, one of a kind. Plus you, of course. 🙂
What did I recently purchase / put on the list to purchase?
– Jokha Alharthi, Celestial Bodies (won Man Booker International prize 2019)
– Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
– Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists (museum exhibit catalog)
– Peter Hessler, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution
– Claire Ptak, The Violet Bakery Cookbook
– Elton John, Me 😀
– Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll (museum exhibit catalog)
– Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, A Taste of Ancient Rome (cookbook)
– Fatima Bhutto, New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop
– Sarah Parcak, Archaeology From Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past
– Goldbarg Bashi, P is for Palestine
… well, I’m kind of all over the place – er, eclectic. You might not want to use me as any sort of guide. 🙂
A Dogs section is essential. A huge remainders book store near me said it’s one of their best sellers, and attracts readers from every other section. Birding books are right next to dogs, and then cats. They also have a big table in the art book and travel section, so you can look at the giant picture books.
Travel guides! While I love bookshops, I buy almost all prose for e-readers. But when traveling, I really need to carry a physical book and consult it often.
I read so much on e-books that I rarely buy physical books. When I do, it’s something that doesn’t translate well to the e-book format, or it is a gift. So….. Children’s books (I buy the nieces and nephews physical books to discourage screen time). Cookbooks. Blank journals. Coloring books and other craft/DIY books. Reference books. Graphic novels. Coffee table books and other image-heavy books. Special editions.
I buy sci-fi and fantasy books most often, but they are in ebook format. When it is a book I adore, I will buy the physical version as a collector piece. So, for instance, I have the entire Harry Potter series in the British hardcover editions, so that the British spellings, idiom, and grammar is preserved. I have Lord of the Rings three different ways. The trade paperbacks I read as a kid, an old version I picked up at a yard sale (not first edition, sadly), and a beautifully illustrated leather bound edition.
t89writes said “Someone above mentioned a LGBTQ section. I’m going to cast a vote AGAINST this(and similar sections such as women’s fiction and african american fiction), because segregating books in that way gives the sense that “these books over here are for you, but not for those other people.” This is counterproductive, because everybody could benefit from reading those books, yet they tend not to if the books have been labeled(by the library or bookseller) as not for them.”
I concur 100%.
We have a bookstore called kids books that sells, you guessed it, books for kids. It’s a lovely place has great knowledgeable staff and fills a niche you didn’t know needed filling. It also has far more variety and locally focused books and I love. Even though I do not have children!
Hubby and I had a bookstore years ago in a small tourist town on the beach. One subject that did NOT sell for us was health and diet books….probably put in a little too much $$ stocking those sections. Literature, mysteries and childrens books were our best selling sections. No one in 7 years asked for poetry. One time we had a poetry reading for a local author. He and his friend showed up. No one else. He did the reading anyway even though we probably would have preferred to go home. You will love the bookstore gig. We did too.
History, good and interesting fiction, scifi/fantasy, education, and gift/quirky books. Plus journals and paper and notepads and pens and such.
So I used to work at a Barnes &Noble, and also the Yale CoOp. Do not put in upholstered furniture. They get worn out and filthy very quickly and attract bedbugs. But wooden chairs with strong arms to help people who have trouble getting up from them, and strong heavy wooden benches with backs and arms are great for customers of all sizes to sit on, and rest their stuff on. As for books, I love essays, travel essays, local travel, memoirs/biography, books about wild animals/pets people adopted. Cooking, true crime, history, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, general fiction, YA, kids, grownup coloring books, horror, and my husband loves graphic novels. I love employee picks book sections, and customer favorites sections (let them vote.) I always hated the NYT bestsellers list. The same books are on them for years and years, and it’s often all the same topic. Much more interesting to see what your actual customers in the store and your fans online are reading. A Jenny’s Pick section would be great. More than a regular bookstore, I love used books stores, where the weird, wacky, obscure and very popular books hang out together. The Book Barn in Niantic, CT buys books from the public and offers you a better return price on store credit than they do actual cash. They have cats, dogs, goats on the property, and coffee, tea and cookies. They’ve expanded to several locations in town spread across multiple buildings. You should definitely visit them or their website for ideas. https://www.bookbarnniantic.com/about
(Although I’m a huge animal lover, I’m allergic to them now, and I wish they didn’t have them in the buildings, because I can’t go there anymore.) But the Book Barn is a great concept in the way they handle books, and on the weekends it’s absolutely jammed with customers. I always thought a used bookstore and a new bookstore should be connected so I could see all the stuff I wanted to read. I often buy used books that are out of print online if I can’t get to a store. Old childhood favorites, books that other people loved and mentioned. But I want to see the new stuff too! If your bookstore is a success, maybe you could open a used book annex store in the building next to you, or nearby.
A section by, for and about you and your peeps that’d be us), living with disabilities and other built-in quirks, turning lemons into furiously happy lemonade. Right up front, a shelf of Jenny’s, Victor’s and Hailey’s recommendations, and in non-fiction a section on The Zombie Apocalypse.
I forgot my most favorite section, Sociology/Cultural Studies- books about Nomads, subcultures of our society, tattoo art/artists, underground dwellers, Romany people (more coarsely referred to as Gypsies,) Hippies, Punk Rock, people living in financial poverty but heritage-rich cultures, ethnic studies. Books that show how wonderful, weird, unique and special we all are different yet our basic needs are the same. I comb through bookstores desperately trying to find these books, much like essays which are also terribly difficult to find in a bookstore, and those are the categories most customers ask booksellers for in stores, and most booksellers just stuff them into larger category sections Willy-nilly, with no regard to the customers who have to wade through all the other stuff to find them!
Top three: YA, SFF, and Memoir. But I will honestly look at everything and anything as long as there’s time.
You simply MUST have a good children’s section. I never needed to be encouraged to read but you’ve just got to have plenty of good stuff to bring in the other weird non-endlessly-reading kids.
Jenny, All do respect but – I really hope the workers did not leave the sight looking like that for ANY amount of time. As a Carpenter for 25 yrs, every one I worked for or for me would have been fired for this mess! I truly hope you did the same to whomever did this, if they did not clean up.
Romance. It pays the bills – romance readers read a lot and everyone likes a happy ending. I think it can be a strong feminist statement too: they are woman focused books, mostly written by women, for women, about women. As a genre it is no more to be shamed than mysteries. And for Anonymous, comment # 81, I concur. When our home renovation general contractor suggested that the huge mess of concrete, wires, cut pipes, etc. that the construction workers had left in our previously clean and empty basement was a good chore for our 16 year old daughter to clean up, we should have walked away right then…
What I look at and what I buy tend to be different. I love looking at cookbooks and new age (crystals and herbs kind of books) and I do buy them, but what I actually buy often times winds up being travel related, speculative fiction, or a children’s book for my kids that has an empowering or creative message and beautiful art. Also, I wish I could find good bookmarks. I could amass a world of bookmarks and never be able to find one!
Literary fiction, history (Roman, Jewish, Native American, Tudor, Victorian), cookbooks, graphic novels
I admit I haven’t been in a new bookstore in years. I love used book stores. The books are broke in like a favorite pair of jeans. They just need a new home.
I voted religion–but my hope is always for lots of religions to be represented, or for used theology texts. And I always visit memoir, sci-fi/fantasy, and gen lit too!
This one was really hard to answer succinctly – I tend to wander through them all!
I don’t see a poll, but I wanted to say I love alternate reality fantasy type novels. Like basically it’s the Earth and our current world, but mythological creatures like werewolves and Fae exist. I love Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison, for examples.
Also historical fiction.
First, I like to look in the arts and crafts section, new age books and items, cozy mysteries and biographies, usually about women whose life did not go well (Edie Sedgwick, for example).
Biggest thing for me is that fantasy, sci-fi and horror have their own categories. I also wish YA be in the appropriate section so we can find the ones in that genre. Truthfully I’m not sure how we ended up with YA in the first place. I really hate that my public library stopped having categories so the books are by author name regardless of genre.
Alone, I just wander everywhere and check out every section.
With kid, I make a beeline to the kids area and pray it’s not one of those ones with all the signs saying NOT to play with the toys, lol.
Please make Nowhere gift certificates available ASAP. Ta!
I love names, so I always hit the parenting aisle to look for new and unique baby name books, then sci-fi/fantasy, YA, children’s books, cooking, decorating, and life stories like your books.
My local library quit using the Dewey Decimal System when they built a new, bigger library, so I kind of hate them. My favorite section was 921-928, life stories AND name books are usually in this section.
Are you at all aware that most people buy their books from Amazon these days simply because you can get the exact same book cheaper? You’re lucky you have a rich husband willing to fund your folly.
This is so exciting! I hope you have a historical fiction section! I love reading books about WWII. I also hope you have a YA Mystery/Suspense/Thriller section. I love mysteries, too. Both adult and YA. 🙂
I’ve always wanted to open a bookstore devoted to fiction – adult and children – called Storyville. There would be a regular size door for the taller among us and a hobbit entrance for the little ones. Non-fiction would be available by special order. Of course, there’d be a coffee bar and in the evenings, wine and beer. You’re living the dream and I’m so happy for you! A trip to San Antonio is in my future.
As someone who is currently searching for holiday baby books, can you please buy picture books for holidays other than Christmas? I’ve got some friends who celebrate Hanukkah and I don’t want to be the bad auntie…
Definitely need mysteries, cosys as well as thriller. People buy those! Also,The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It changed my life and is a book that people will buy instead of taking it out of the library.
Travel books! My favorite fiction book, which you should definitely carry and display in a prominent place, is Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. It’s about Captain Hook.(as in Peter Pan). Beautifully written fantasy about the redeeming power of love.
Do you just stand around all day looking pretty? Even surrounded by wreckage and debris you’re gorgeous!
Any section, as long as I have a place to sit on the floor, open a book, and read the first chapter. I would not say no to a bean bag chair or a cushion.
For me, got to be the just in, new author, above all (as I rate your taste in life) Jenny’s recommendation of the month
I love when stores have a small section for employee picks of their current favorites. It’s always a nice diverse mix of stuff and 99% of the time I’ll find interesting things I would never have thought to look for myself.
I would also make some sort of signage that indicates that you can special order books that you don’t normally stock. I do this at my local bookshop but there’s nothing to indicate to the general public that it’s possible.
I am a sucker for books they talk about on NPR.
If you have a philosophy/religion section, put it somewhere well ventilated. That’s where bookstore shoppers go to pretend to look at books while farting.
I was going to say that my favorite part of bookstores is when they have small stools in the aisle so I can either reach things on a higher shelf or sit down and browse a few pages of the book.
That comment about stools was me. I don’t know why it said “anonymous” I wasn’t confronting the patriarchy or anything.
my “other” was the visual art section. My husband has so many books that I don’t feel like I can’t buy any for myself, so I don’t even look around at all. I’ll usually look at the empty journal/sketchbook section and daydream about it, or flip through the art portfolio books while I’m waiting to learn about current artists. And daydream about that too. sigh.
(I hate that you have to already be famous to get published anymore)
When I go to bookstores, I look at new books (fiction and nonfiction), SF, Fantasy, History and language. I also appreciate a strong religions and philosophy section, as well as the sciences, children’s, mystery and general fiction. I think it would really help to look at other bookstores in your area and talk to your local librarians about what is checked out/gets put on hold most frequently. Places differ in their preferences.
All that aside, it can be best to simply determine what your niche is; what do you love and want to promote? Anyone can sell the NYT Bestseller list. One of our favorite bookstores is a little place where the proprietor has a smattering of most genres, but they are all curated by her. She doesn’t sell anything she can’t recommend, and she looks for books that she loves and sells them, even though her customers may not know the author. You have a brand and people trust what you love, Jenny. Go with that. Go with your gut. That’s what will make your bookstore stand out – especially when you start selling books online.
Don’t forget romance. Romance readers will come if you carry it! Otherwise they will ignore physical stores and just go online. And we buy a lot. ( Former bookseller and current librarian)
I answered other for travel but I love the kids section too. I can tell a lot by the type of store by the kids section. I like the ones that have non mainstream books rather than series based on TV shows or cartoon characters. The local section is always nice to go to as well to learn more about the area, people and history.
I picked Local Interest as my second one … but only if I’m actually interested in the local area, that really varies! At Nowhere, it would be a must see section for me – a Canadian – for sure 😊🇨🇦
Sci-Fi/Fantasy is my only section where I must explore every time I visit a bookstore, but I also frequently peek at graphic novels and YA, plus the children’s section for my son. I occasionally explore history, bio/memoirs, humor, and general fiction. Cookbooks can be fun to look at too. Apart from genre specific sections, I love looking at Staff Recommends titles and could definitely see a “Jenny Recommends” area being a huge hit. People frequently look for bestsellers, but being an Indie bookstore, it might be nice to have either a store specific bestsellers section or an independent books bestseller area.
Most of what I read is fiction or romance. But I find the fiction sections too big to browse. I also look for a staff picks section.
I’m kind of an all-of-the-above reader, too, but wanted to give “Local Interest” some love. I always check that section out when I find a cool indie bookstore. And not just for tourist guides. I love discovering local authors and learning about local architecture and history (especially the lesser-known, kind of off-the-wall stuff), etc. It seems like San Antonio would be a treasure trove for things like that.
Mysteries. Lots of them.
will you do buy, sell, trade? and journals, some with blank pages and some with graphs?
I never skip the business section, love gardening books, and always buy classics and challenging puzzles. I find fiction sections completely overwhelming; I’ve started studying again in 2016 (completed my masters and now doing my doctorate) so I never have time for fiction and when I do, there are simply too many choices and I end up not buying anything. I’m a terrible potential customer. Sorry!
I buy loads of notebooks though! Lined pages with an elastic to keep loose notes from getting lost and a ribbon bookmark. Bright colours do I won’t lose the notebook, or really cool graphics or art on the cover
Is there a job for someone who reads selections of newly published books and recommends to a book shop owner which to stock on their shelves? Because I feel like that might be my dream job
we are a skewed bunch–I love SF, but it can’t be the bulk of your store. Fiction, of course, YA and children’s, because if you’re buying children’s books, you might buy some for yourself. Something with local interest, bc SA is interesting.
We are a skewed bunch–so much love for SF. But you must also include YA and children’s–because if a customer is buying a kid’s book, they might also choose books for themselves. Romance (and I say this as a former romance writer) turns over too quickly; at least series romance does. I second staff and Jenny recommendations. You might reach out to Ann Patchett, too, since she runs an indie bookshop in Tennessee. She’ll have ideas.
I think some curated local books would be of interest, as SA is an interesting town.
Jenny, FYI, the poll doesn’t show up if you view this post in Firefox (at least on Mac), but who knows if that’s worth addressing based on the browsers most of the blog’s readers use? The poll appears a-okay in Safari and Chrome.
I worked at a record store that yes, had records but my favorite part were cassettes and cd’s because it was strictly alphabetical by artist/band. You had no division of genre, you just browsed and/or knew what you were there to buy. I am ocd enough to need alphabetical (by author) but would love to see a bookstore with no section – just A to Z.
It’s SO hard for me to pick just one since I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.
Non-Fiction but True Crime specifically would be great. I would love some good cookbooks but would like to see books that aren’t diet books. The Fuck It Diet is a great book about unlearning a lot of the harmful ideas about food and having a healthy relationship to ourselves and food. If you have a “local” section, please consider including local self-published Zines like St. Sucia or Horchata Zine.
I think you’ll get a lot of traffic in the store simply because YOU are the owner, so have lots of books in the topics that are Jenny Lawson-ish! I agree with all the sections you already mentioned, and I’d also say humor and books on mental health and self-help. Maybe crafty books as well?
Humor. And essays. HUMOROUS ESSAYS!! Some of my most favorite authors are you, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, David Rakoff… anything along that vein.
I look for my favorite authors, and then discover new authors in the same section. SciFi (Connie Willis), Fantasy (Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore), Futuristic SciFi (Cory Doctorow), cookbooks, funny fiction (Janet Evanovich), and lovely coffee table books of art or nature.
when i go book shopping i alway love the mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and YA sections!
Whatever it takes to have books by you, Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer… please and thank you!
When I had my bookstore the biggest selling genre I had was by far Romance. No one wants to admit to it, but that’s what people read – at least in my neighborhood. It was the little old ladies who but the smuttiest stuff.
You’ve also inspired me to look into opening a bookstore again.
Magazines!!! You need a kick ass selection of magazines!
I love the employee recommendations! I like that a human has read the book and liked it enough to write a little bit about why. Beth’s Pick: Abarat by Clive Barker (YA Fantasy) Wild adventure story with AMAZING color illustrations by the author. Appropriate for most audiences.
Another vote for crafty/DIY books. You like to produce and color adult coloring books, which seems to have taken a hold on a lot of folks.
Consider carrying used books and remaindered/discounted books. The former has a lot of stuff that has not been constantly reprinted or is hard to find, like some of the sci-fi books you recently found. “A Fan’s Notes” by Frederick Exley was one such for me (though an e-book now). The latter are good deals that I passed on the first time around or never saw the first time around. Of course you’ve seen the fake-discounted photo books but they have their audience, too. I had a favorite (mostly used) bookstore locally that was priced right to move stuff rather than the Amazon/eBay dumbness of finding something out of print and pricing it at zillions of dollars just because of that.
O/P books in good shape can always be offered online as well as in-store.
Don’t waste space on the used survey-type/grandma-gift books like “Fabulous trains/stamps/cars/dolls/sausages sold on the sides of highways/etc.” unless you find them particularly interesting yourself. Most collectors/semi-specialists are beyond the very basic stuff and many of those books are as common as dirt and not very good besides.
You might always have a few signed copies of your books in the store, along with unsigned (same price). Who else is gonna have that? Until your next book tour, that is.
You are going to need anti-UV sleeves for the assumed fluorescent lighting plus a sunscreen for the front window to protect book spines and faces from fading.
When I was younger (wow, when did that happen?) I used to have a weekly ritual where I drove to one of the larger local bookstores. I’d troll the isles starting at Sc/Fi working my way to YA, fiction, then literature, and around to local interest and crafts. I’d collect a stack of books as I went and when I had a stack of about 5 to 6 I would find a chair in a corner, I had 2 favorites. I’d stake my claim and then I’d go order a coffee from the Barista, Sven, and I’d settle in and read the first two chapters of every book in the stack, and if I got to chapter 3 and I was too excited to stop, that was the book that I took home. So while I think it’s good to know what people want to shop for, I think it’s even better to think about how they’re going to shop. I hated chairs out in the middle of the room where people could rattle around me. I hated the disgustingly bright light in the center of the store that gave me eye strain. And I was honestly unnaturally irritated by the staff asking if I needed help with anything. That store sold me a lot of books. A -lot- of books. And all I wanted from them was Sven’s double latte and a chair in the corner where no one bothered me. So while you’re planning the book layout, plan the chair layout. Make sure there are a lot of pokey corners that people can hide in. Maybe work out a way for the customer to say “I’m fine, I don’t need anything” without having to say it. And get good lighting.
You’re in a unique situation because you have an internet following, but honestly, go to your closest library and find out what their circulation genres are. Each of our branches FOL groups have different clientele. Some like romances, some like history, some like drama, it really depends on where you are in the city. Go with what your locals will buy and fill in with what we want.
I’d say your list sounds complete. Paranormal romances are always a great escape and my personal guilty pleasure.
I buy romance, children’s, cookbooks
suggest graphic novels and those with gorgeous photos as less satisfing to read on ereader
books about writing, journaling, drawing near beautiful(local/handmade) empty books
seems like you may get many tourists, (I’d never wanted to go to San Antoino before but I do now) so local books, local products in general. Many of us will go because of you so your stuff, things you talk about here, a Jenny loves/recommends. I bet a Victor loves/recommends would fly too, if he’s into it, or your daughter’s, even your pets if you find things that you thought would go. The more helpful self help, the silly, the charming.
I wish you so much luck and joy of this project.
Fancy pop-up books.
Hi my name is Elena And I have 6 kids having a ruff time this year since I lost my job … thank you guys in advance May god bless you guys always https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1ZCSHFBP10WF1?
fantasy, romance, YA, children’s, also general weird miscellaneous stuff you only seem to find in bookstores. Games, journals, cards (especially if it continues the send a card to someone who needs it!).
Also, if there is not a taxidermied bit of decor I think we will all be terribly saddened. I am very much hoping to make Nowhere a stop along the way of a road trip sometime.
Wow! Hard to imagine what the shop is going to look like when you have finished.
With the weather getting colder and having bought a log burner a few months ago, all I can see though is lots of lovely firewood.
I never skip the poetry section but I’m not a “classics” person. I enjoy more modern poetry that’s not just old dead white guys who rhymed. (I mean that is certainly ok to like… I just got tired of it.)
Personally, I live for the travel section because I don’t have the cash to travel IRL. One thing I encountered in a bookstore last year that I adored was “blind date with a book.” They offered a giant shelf filled with books wrapped in brown paper. On the wrapper/cover, they’d pasted a page with a list of adjectives: Charming, Witty, Daring, etc. Pick one and take it home. If you unwrap it and discover you’ve already read it, you can bring it back with the receipt and exchange it for another. I met The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson), and honey, it was the best blind date of my entire life. Do this for your patrons!
As a bookseller myself, whenever I go into another bookshop, I love browsing through the Staff Picks section and reading reviews by other booksellers! I’ve found so many great gems that way, and ones that I never would have picked up otherwise.
You know, you look incredibly powerful with your hands on your hips atop a pile of rubble… like you could give Wonder Woman a run for her money. Come to think of it, you could.