Thanks for being patient. I’m finally getting around to setting my business goals for 2009. Without further adieu and in no particular order, they are:
1) Time and Patience
Even if the time of day is not consistent, I will make some time each week day for working on the book business. I had a lot of problems working on the book business on a daily basis in the second half of 2008. Some of the reason for this was beyond my control, but I know that if I want to make progress, I must make the time to achieve it. On the other hand, when events outside of my control dictate that I can’t work on selling books regularly, I need to work on patience and the knowledge that I will eventually get time for the books as life circumstances change. (Please, mothers of older children, tell me this is the case!!)
The Dante catalogue must either be 1) delayed indefinitely (not really an option I like), 2) completed as soon as possible, or 3) must be handed over to someone with desktop publishing skills. I really want to finish it. The reason it is still unfinished goes back to #1, Time, or lack thereof, to really sit uninterrupted and learn what I need in order to incorporate graphics and layout the catalogue. I am not so much annoyed that I haven’t finished it as I am sorry I told people I was working on it. I get asked often when the catalogue will be available, and I am a bit embarrassed that I don’t have a completion date. Still, the important thing to me is to get the catalogue right and to get it looking the way I envision it. I underestimated the time it would take me to learn to do this and have newfound respect for booksellers who issue regular print catalogues with color graphics.
3) Book Fairs
I’m hoping to exhibit at at least three fairs this year: the Gold Rush Book Fair in May, the Central Valley Antiquarian Book Fair in September, and the Santa Monica Book Fair, also in September. I can’t exhibit at the San Francisco Antiquarian Book Fair this year, as it’s only open to ABAA members this time around, and I haven’t been in business long enough to join the ABAA. I do, however, have the opportunity to work for my mentor, Mr. Z. during this February fair. I will stay in the booth and sell some of his books so he can go out and shop for more! It’s great fun to sell Mr. Z’s books, as they are all amazing and it’s a great opportunity for me to meet other booksellers. With over 200 of them at this fair, I am hoping to get to know at least a few booksellers from outside California. I promise a full report when the time comes. I also intend to go to and maybe even exhibit at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair in October. Whether or not I can actually do so will depend on domestic demands at the time.
I enjoy blogging and looking back on earlier posts to see how I’ve progressed (or not). I plan to keep blogging most week days, and I look forward to continuing to meet other booksellers, book collectors, librarians, and just plain bookish folk as a result of writing this blog. It has been a great networking tool and has ultimately netted me several sales as well.
I won’t be writing for BookThink this year, sorry to say. In a sense, I am happy to have the free time to devote to the books, on which I need to spend more time. I was, however, just today asked to regularly contribute to another online publication for the bookish. I’m still thinking it over, but looks like I will give it a try. (Can you tell I’m having trouble deciding whether writing or bookselling should be the priority here? I love both activities.)
My 2008 sales were three times my 2007 sales. I am hoping to make my 2009 sales triple my 2008 sales, but given the current economic climate and my slow listing of books online, not sure if I can make this happen. Since time constraints don’t really allow me to increase quantity of books sold by a large magnitude, I am hoping to make it happen by increasing the quality (and therefore price point) of most of the books I sell. The most important thing here is to make sure that I can make a good profit (I aim for — but don’t always achieve — around three times cost) from books I purchase for resale.
I need to add lots more books to my website. After planning for and exhibiting at book fairs, scouting books, directly quoting specific items to customers, and writing my blog posts each day, I haven’t made the time to upload more books. I recognize I need to do this, but will only move on to this goal when the first print catalogue is finished. For now, website improvement is desired but is on hold.
I plan to continue my bookseller’s education by attending the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia this summer. I’ve been awarded a scholarship and I’m still looking into which class I’d like to take.
I expect to continue to network with other book collectors, booksellers, and librarians and to meet some new ones through book fairs, courses like those at Rare Book School, and blogging and writing projects.
I’m always on the lookout for adding to my inventory, but I’m refining it, definitely trying to acquire fine and antiquarian books only. Anything can be anywhere. Never forget that.
Let me know if you think there’s something I’m overlooking or if you think my goals are overly-ambitious for someone who is also a mother of two.
See you in the stacks!