As seen on our twitter, Uniqreads@readsuniq , we will be posting the gardening book reviews from Mz. Geri, a 77 year old self taught gardener. As she has no social media, we will be transcribing her reviews over the next week. Please follow our twitter for updates of the blog reviews. #MzGerigardens.
Greetings! This is just a note that on June 18-20, 2021 Uniqreads will be merchanting at the Free Spirit Gathering. This is an online only event this year. There will be classes, games and more. For this event we will be offering 10% off of our books to the attendees. Please check out the event at the link below.
For those who have followed the link here, you can find most of our listings at our biblio.com seller page.
“Why do you want to have a bookshop?”
This question has been a standard one for the majority of my life, and the answer has changed over the years.
When I was in middle school my answer revolved around being able to read anything I wanted at anytime. While I was in college, it was that I wanted to make sure there were affordable things to do that did not involve drinking. In my 20s it was the desire to be different and to start a revival of a simpler time of knowledge sharing. In my 30s it was a way to help parents find affordable information to educate the children with. Now in my 40s I have come to the realization that this is just in my blood and I shouldn’t have to justify it to anyone.
But the one thing that I have never gotten a clear answer to is “Why are you asking this of me?”
For some reason it seems that most of the people I have met are confused by my desire to live a life among the stacks. As a child I was told to dream big, and I did. Other kids would talk of owning horses or winning car races or becoming a teacher or a scientist and the adults all smiled and nodded. And that was that. Meanwhile my desire to own a bookshop with a living place on top of it was cause for concern. It alarmed them, and caused them to ask more questions.
“Are you sure?”
Of course I am.
“Why not dream a bit bigger?”
Well, I would always love to have a bigger shop or even a second one after a while.
“What about pets, or family or travel?”
Pets and Family can live with me without issue, why would owning a bookshop prevent this? As for travel —that would be a great way to get inventory!
“You’ll change your mind one day.”
“One day you’ll think of something less foolish to do for work.”
Okay? Like what? Mushroom farming or Beekeeping? Or raising Alpacas? I have guides books on how to do this and also books on business plans….
Not once in my young years did I have any encouragement with this plan. The idea of me running one, or even owning one, was considered to be far fetched and unrealistic. As the years passed the comments changed.
“What will you live off of?”
The money I make? I also grow my own food, and might start a Mushroom Farm for extra income.
“What about retirement?”
Nothing prevents me from saving, or investing or planning ahead. Besides I will love to do this until I die.
“ Why not do something meaningful?”
What can be more meaningful than owning and running a bookshop?
To me a Bookshop is the single most powerful place in the world. It offers shelter, information and comfort. It helps one define dreams and explore possibilities. It is the place that holds all whimsy, wisdom and wonders. A bookshop is where one can explore all the aspects of what was, what is, what will be and what would have been. A place where voices of the past can shimmer into the future causing new ideas to come to life. It is a place where the long dead, the recently dead and the non dead can come together.
Of course the smell of vanilla (from old paper) is a lovely addition.
But why is this such a thing for concern? Why do so many people need to hear an answer from me?
I believe it has something to do with the current state of Western Culture. The idea that someone could be happy without all of the trappings of modern society, that one does not need to be constantly connected, or distracted by the flash in the pan disposable life is strange to most people. To some it is a thing of horror, to others a thing of pity and, to a select few, an unspoken half formed desire. The question is asked for clarification, to allow them to justify their live and choices while judging others.
This creates a divide, a chasm, between the Bookwyrm and the others. One where the Bookwyrm is on the defensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a bridge made of paper and one can read the way over or not.
It is not the Bookwyrm’s job to convince the world of it’s validity. The actions of the Bookwyrm should do that.
Which is why, even in this digital age, Bookshops still exist.
My shop may be small, and the selection narrowly focused, but it is my shop and as the years pass onto decades my collection will be what tells people I was here. And I, the Bookwyrm, will live on in the heart of another.
That is why I own a Bookshop.
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93 years old and still one of the best indie bookstores in NYC. I’ve gone on holiday to the city and spent days lost in the stacks. I loved how they would mail the books home so I wouldn’t have to carry them. Three floors, packed floor to ceiling, sales tables lining the block on which it stands. An amazing place with one of the hardest interview processes for employees. This is the place I dream my store would become. It has been a few years since I have walked the stacks, but when I am looking for a rare item for my clients, I check there first. Today on my twitter field I saw a message:
“Strand Book Store @strandbookstore
We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand’s history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted…. ”
In the last few months people have been pushing for Indie bookshops to survive and the public has listened. But people keep thinking that Indie means NEW bookstore, when instead the term means not connected to a chain or publisher and makes no distinction between new and used. Used bookstores are important. Most people do not understand this.
Used books keep people reading. If your budget only allows you a certain amount for books, would you chose one new hardcover or a stack of used paperbacks? Teachers need 40 copies of a book for a classroom? Used bookstores will have a good selection at reasonable prices.
If you end up having to move and need to unload some books, used bookstores are great for that. And when many people do this, you have the chance to find some interesting reads. For example in a used bookshop I once found a paperback version of The Song of Roland which was printed in France in three languages: Old French, Medieval English and Modern English.
Do you have a favorite author that has been writing for decades? Do you know that most publishers will not put any title that author wrote that was published by another publisher on the Other Works page? And when that first publisher is now out of business or merged with another one, how will you find the book? Now the titles are listed online, but only used bookstores carry them.
What about when the author mentions their favorite childhood author and you want to read what they loved? Best place to find them is in a used bookstore.
Want something new to read that is similar to what you like to read? New bookshops tend to have the classics and whatever is “in or popular” at the moment. So finding something that is different can be a challenge. And yet at used bookshops you can see shelves of things that are similar or completely different than what you even though of reading. Catchy titles or just weird covers in styles of bygone years can start a journey into a new reading experience.
Used bookstores are a view into the social past. What to understand why your grandparents, or great grand parents thought and acted the way they did? Check out what they read and you can see how society was being shaped.
Amazon is making it easier to find and buy books on it’s site, but independent bookstores that sell through them barely make a profit off of the sales. (Check out their terms on the seller page, then compare it to the seller pages on biblio.com and others). Online sales are the future and used bookshops are heading that way in droves. But people tend to discard the old. A shiny new book is a great present, but a worn book is considered a bad one. Unless it is rare and antiquarian and that is a whole other topic.
The modernized world is beginning to recognize that the “single use” mentality is a bad idea, and used bookstores are the key to this. Badly worn reader copy books can be used for art projects and home décor. And while they are paper, the processing sometimes makes it difficult to decompose easily- especially the covers/boards. I have seen people who have used them as planters and as small animal beds.
But keeping used books in circulation will help the environment and the economy by letting people spend in small amounts and also prevent over publication of new books. This is a win win situation.
But people need to support used bookshops. I implore you to check out places like Alibris.com, Biblio.com, thrift books.com, hpb.com and strandbooks.com to start and to search for used bookstores near you to find local ones.
The only way for the industry to survive is with the help of society and it is important to society that the industry does survive.
#savethestrand #smallbusiness #usedbookshops
Once again we are back for our weekly “reviews”. In this series we will offer the first paragraph of the first chapter of a book, some new, some old and out of print and a synopsis of the plot to see if this will be of interest. In honor of the start of the school year, September will be children’s books month. We will “review” books for younger readers from Kindergarten to Jr. Highschool, offer the Lexile level (if available)and note if it something in our inventory or not. The intent behind this simple. Children tend to stick with what they like to read, and the books used for most language classes tend to be not typically something to catch a child’s attention. By offering a selection of lesser know, out of print or small press titles this gives the child a chance to read something different, develop a wider world view and, hopefully, create a love of reading.
The other aspect of this series is that most people tend to decide what they want to read by the cover art, or by the blurb on the back. We all know not to judge a book by the cover because sometimes the artist has no idea what the book is really about. By offering a preview of the opening paragraph it will give the reader a chance to see the language, flow and possibly the hook of the story. This is not a traditional review, as we will not discuss the plot of the book at all. For a more traditional review, please go to our goodreads page. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/120840365-elizabeth-campbell where we will start posting this week.
It is our hope that you join us for this month of books and that you comment on what your opinion of the books selected are. First up is:
Lola the Buhund and the Empty Sky
No lexlie reading level.
“The night was damp, yet there was no rain. For almost thirteen years, there had been no light in the sky. Likewise, there had been no clouds, no rain, and no snow—the sky was completely bare. The disappearance of the sun, the moon, and the stars had left the country of Prithvi in a state of limbo. Long ago the tide had stopped and the wind had ceased to blow; the ground grew cold and the forests withered and died.”
Born into a world of darkness, Lola has never seen the sun, but a chance encounter with some strangers sets her off on a quest to discover the fate of her world and what really happened to the light.
Does this sound like a book you’d like to read? Why or why not?
A few years back I came across this book. As a lover of fairy tales and folk lore I found the cover art to be intriguing, but I wondered if the interior would match up. It did. This is the story about a story book princess, who knows she is in a story, because all of the characters are acting everything out. The Princess is bored with repeating the story and wishes for more. But years without a reader is causing issues. One day the characters make a mistake in the plot and the Princess’ dream of having a real unscripted adventure begins.
That alone would have kept my interest. Self aware characters breaking the mold to grow. But there is more to this book. In reality this book is about the working of memory, the history of storytelling and the adaptable and collective nature of imagination.
Intended for readers ages 8 to 10, this is a well written book for all ages.
It is an unspoken fact that in order for people to remember your business, you not only need good product and excellent customer service, you need a brand. In order to promote that brand you need merchandise. So what type of merchandise do you need?
That depends on your industry, but for bookstores it is fairly simple and short list.
- Bookmarks. These are the standard item for a book business. Doubling as a business card, with the store information on either one side or incorporated in the design, these little items can be as cheaply made (off a printer & laminated) or as detailed as you like (carved out of wood). Some people even collect bookmarks. But most people will only pay for the fancier ones, so if you are intending to give them away don’t blow the budget on them.
- Bags. There are many types, but since every customer needs something to hold all of the purchases, bags are a no brainer. The two most common types are Plastic and Canvas.
Plastic: Okay no one really wants to use these any more. In fact a growing trend is to ban the use of them. But if you do want to get them, you can have your store name printed on them in bulk. Now there are some more environmental friendly plastic bags out there, but they tend to be very expensive.
Canvas: These can be made with different cloths, but tend to be durable and are reusable. Multiple designs can be made on them, all tailored to showcase a different aspect of your brand. Best of all, they are washable.
Style/Size: The style of bag is important as well. A square bottom bag is better to hold items securely, but the handles are the most important. Books are heavy, and if the handles break the books are damaged. It is good to offer a selection of sizes as well. Smaller bags (holding a few paperbacks) can be a substitute for gift- wrapping if the design is good. Larger bags (like paper delivery bags) are great to re-purpose as laundry bags, but fill them with books and you’ll need to start selling pain medicine.
- Writing Materials. What goes with reading better than writing materials? Decorative notebooks are a brilliant thing to do, but the market is getting quite cluttered with them. So unless you have a hook that will make you stand out ( hand-carved wooden notebooks, glitter covered pages and so on) , don’t over do it. Pens and pencils are still a good idea and there are many companies out there that can make this an affordable option.
- Household items. This is mainly coffee mugs, and tea cups. Which can be connected to books and reading quite easily. But some stores make decorative hot plates, coasters and I have even seen utensils. Once again, the object is to get people to advertise for you, so unless the customer is a professional chef, slapping your store information on a set of kitchen knives is not going to do much for you. And that would also be expensive to make.
- Apparel. T-shirts, hoodies, scarves, hats and umbrellas are the items I see most often. All of them imprinted with the store’s information and a logo. Unless it rains a lot near your store, skip the umbrellas. They are expressive to make and sell, and very few people look at the top of one to see the logo. Like business cards and book marks clothing is the place to go crazy (with in reason). Good quality and a good or unusual design will make them a good add on item, which will then be a constant reminder of your store and brand for months to come.
- Store Specific. Some stores already have a brand item from the start. There is a bookshop that sells teddy bears with the books as a reading device for beginner readers. So they started to put small t-shirts on the bears with the store name on them. Another store had a cat mascot, and started selling plushies. Find what is special about your store and see if it is easily transferable . If not don’t sweat it.
So those are the ones that are industry specific. Brand awareness and the merchandise it creates can be helpful and harmful to the business depending on how much time and income is spent on it. Remember this is an add on. If it becomes your business, then that is a whole other situation.
What can you do if you love to read?
There are many people whose only passion is that they love to read, but while there are many jobs for proof readers and book reviewers, they don’t pay well. So what can you do?
Well you can become a bookseller, a literary scout or even a bibliotherapist.
A what now?
A bibliotherapist is a therapist who specializes in bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy is a creative arts therapies modality that involves storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. It uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. Bibliotherapy is often combined with writing therapy. So while you still need to become a therapist, you can now assign your clients books to read to help with their issues. The link below has a better explanation of how this works and the second one tells you how you can become one.
When you, as a reader, move from having a few dozen books on a topic, to being a collector with a few dozen books on a dozen topics, there comes a problem about where to put them. The last thing one wants is to see their collection warp and become damaged over time. There are lots of considerations to keep track of when displaying your collection, but perhaps the most basic question you should first ask yourself is whether to store your books vertically in the upright position or horizontally on their sides.
Why is that a question to ask? Because most shelving units are not designed to hold books of different sizes and weights. So unless you want to have two cases for each subject (paperbacks and hardcovers) or three (paperbacks, hardcovers and Quality Paperbacks) most of us start to stack the paperbacks horizontally. This saves space, at first, and allows you to groups subjects together, but this can place undue pressure on the spines, causing them to sag and crack over time.
So what to do?
Over the years I have tried many shelving units, from the simple homemade cinder blocks and planks of wood, to solid oak bookcases. All have some issues, so as an “expert” on this here are my suggestions.
When looking for a bookcase
1: MEASURE WHERE YOU WILL BE PUTTING THEM. There is nothing like finding you have misjudged the wall space and now are encroaching on a door way or a stairwell.
2: Look at where your outlets are. If the only plug outlet in the room will be behind the bookcases find an extension cord so that you can have some lights in the room.
3: MEASURE WHERE YOU ARE PUTTING THEM. Yes I said this before. But remember the ceiling. There is nothing like spending good money on a nice 8 foot bookcase to find out that your ceiling is 7 1/2 feet tall.
3a: Also how tall are you? Can you reach the top of an 6 foot bookcase? Do you need to buy a chair or stool to do so? Remember you will have to dust at some point….
4: How many books do you have and how many are you planning to get? Trick question. The only acceptable answer is: this will be my personal library.
When at the store
Congratulations, you have now made it to the store to get your first of many bookshelves. Where is the best place to go? Your local bookstore is the best place to see which types of shelves you can get. So go in and see what they have……
And now that you are leaving with a small selection of new books did you notice the shelves at all?
Most new bookstores use solid wood shelving with permanent shelving. Each shelf is 13 inches (give or take 1 inch) in height and about 10 inches in depth. This allows for all types of books to be placed spine showing. Most hardcovers are approximately 7 inches in width, with QPs being slightly smaller, but oblong books or art books are a bit longer, so extra space is needed. If your collection does not have any oblong books, then this will allow you to push them evenly back against the backing.
Something you might not have noticed is that these shelves tend to have backs. Sounds silly, but it doesn’t matter if a store is calling it a book case, if there is not a back it is a display shelving unit or a knick -knack case. Your books will fall off, or get damaged if they are pushed against the wall. And oddly enough these will not hold your books. Point in case, two decades ago I bought six cases from Ikea. Now I love Ikea. Their products are light colored and designed to go together. But I secured the cases against the wall and placed my collection on them, only to notice that after a few months they were leaning away from the wall and sagging dangerously. I called my local store to see what could be done and they were perplexed. So I took some photos and went to the store. The response was that this was happening because I had too many books on the cases and the metal “x” supports on the backs weren’t designed to hold such weight. I ended up getting a large piece of particleboard and nailing the cases to this. This was now an almost unmovable 8 foot by 12 foot bookcase.
I love Ikeas’ way of having adjustable shelving, which works well in smaller collections, but for my store, and for anyone who wants to have shelving where the pins don’t break, fall out or just vanish, I’d suggest looking for cases that use a more built in method. Now I’m not sure what it is called, but the shelves are designed to fit into grooves on the sides of the case. This allows for an even distribution of weight and, if the shelf breaks, makes it easier to replace. The one problem is that those shelves are permanent and thus you have to make sure it will fit the height of your books.
Now if you decide to go with the pegs https://www.woodcraft.com/blog_entries/all-about-shelf-support can help you decide which one is better for you.
Stay away from press board. I’m sorry this stuff does not last for very long. Okay, yes it does last a for a while, but when it breaks it is a pain to fix, or replace. Any water damage and it will start to swell. And by water damage I mean having your AC up too high.
Now glass and metal shelving is great for the books themselves, but can be problematic depending on your collection and your life. Kids and pets can bump into things and if these fall or break, there may be some issues. These shelves are good due to the non- porous nature of the materials. Wood absorbs water over time no matter how you treat it and that can get into the books. One can delay this by using metal or glass shelving or by keeping the temperature steady in the room. Airing out your collection every so often helps as well. I have found that using contact paper (kitchen shelf lining paper) on wood shelves helps as well- but that stuff needs to be evenly placed and is difficult to remove. So I would recommend spending the cash on a good solid wood case that can stand on its own (without needing to be against a wall).
But wait….what about the storing of the books?
Other Items you Need to have
As a child I never understood why I should ever have them, as any room on the bookshelf was filled with more books. But a decent bookend will help keep the books steady and prevent them from expanding (remember water is in the air)If you place the bookend with a hardcover they will help prevent the paperbacks from losing shape.
Bookends can be made of anything as long as they are the same on each end of the shelf (if using two) as the pressure must be the same. You can get them at any bookstore, or even make them yourself. I’ve known people who have used painted Styrofoam blocks and some who have painted bricks. Others have used jars of marbles. It honestly doesn’t matter.
This is what I use for my paperback books. Since most of my collections include all formats of books, I had some of my shelves measured and wooden risers put in These are shorter than the shelves, and are recessed in. This allows me to put in two rows of paperbacks so that I can see which ones are there. This works better on shelving that has more depth (like for oblong books). Personally I like them to be shorter than the length of the shelf so that I can adjust them if needed, or if I need to put in a bookend.
When setting up your shelves, just remember that you do need to give them some space. You cannot put them too tightly together or you will either remove all of them when taking one out or never get it off the shelf.
So what are your suggestions for storing your collection? Any particular stores, brands or types of shelves that you’d recommend? Send us a reply and let us know.
Until then. Happy Reading.