Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bookstore visit: Bound to Be Read Books, East Atlanta Village

 Jef Blocker, manager of the store, poses in front of the  blackboard that hangs behind the register.

Jessica Handler & Jef Blocker pose at Bound to Be Read Books; 
Jessica is holding her book, Invisible Sisters.

Last week I spent a couple of days at Bound to Be Read Books in East Atlanta Village.  My buddies Jef and Jeff were kind enough to let me get a behind-the-scenes look at their bookstore lives, and I had a blast.

Several people have asked me if what I'd do if I did a mini-internship at a bookstore and hated it.  I was warned numerous times about everything possible.  Oh, those window displays can be a pain!  If you're busy, you'll be having conversations with people all day--ALL DAY!  There are lots of mundane details! You have to alphabetize the books frequently! You've got to stay organized!  

I find none of this daunting.  Probably the scariest part of the day-to-day bookstore operations is the finance aspect, but luckily I already have an awesome accountant, a wonderful SBDC counselor, and several others on board to help me as I better learn the retail ropes.  Here's a little secret about me, one my family and close friends already know:  I LOVE ORGANIZING, and when I was a kid my neighbor and I would play "office" for hours in lieu of playing house.  I love (and collect) office supplies, and I have been alphabetizing other people's (and other bookstores') bookshelves since early elementary school.  Making window displays sounds like a dream job, and chatting all day about books sounds like heaven.  So yeah:  I'm ready for this, and I can't wait. There's not one aspect of the business that makes me feel like running for the door and never looking back.

Bound to Be Read Books is a neighborhood bookstore on Flat Shoals Avenue in Atlanta, right across from the Earl (a music club and bar/restaurant many Athens musicians know well).  The founders opened the bookstore just over four years ago, aiming at first to sell only used books.  As time went on, they added lots of new books to the mix, responding appropriately and professionally to their customers' wants.  Now this store, complete with red accents, hand-painted library stools, and a newsletter-writing cat (who is also the Director of Public Relations), boasts an impressive collection of new, used, and collectible books. 

East Atlanta Village is a hip little city unto itself.  While having lunch at Holy Taco with two new author friends, Laurel Snyder and Marc Fitten, I ran into a UGA professor's daughter, a woman I met in Athens years ago who is now married to a guy I was in eighth grade band with.  A few hours later, I set up shop at Joe's Coffee and ran into a guy named Joel, who used to own a delicious BBQ joint in Athens (where White Tiger Gourmet now makes its home). After my coffee and deep-dish apple pie fix (yum), I headed across the street to the bookstore to spend another day with Jef and Jeff.  To my happiness, my Twitter friend (and acclaimed author) Jessica Handler was there to greet me.  Running into so many familiar faces and names made me feel as if I was having just another day in Athens.  It felt homey and comfortable.

It's hard to imagine my being even more excited about Avid than I was earlier this month, but it's true:  visiting other bookstores  invigorates me and calls me to action.  Speaking of, there's work to be done...


Jef said...

Feel free to come back and arrange our bookshelves anytime, Janet.

Anonymous said...

Nice meeting you, Janet! Best of luck to you, and thanks for keeping independent bookstores alive!