As libraries and brick and mortar bookstores, both retail chain and independently owned, fight to stay relevant in the eyes of the reading public, store owners and stakeholders have had to become more creative and more unified in their efforts to entice customers to check out the local book scene. One initiative which took place last week in California saw not only a surge in bookstore traffic, but in revenue as well.
California Bookstore Day, an idea first conceived of by store owner Pete Mulvahill and put in motion with the help of several other dedicated parties, combined the marketing efforts and attention of members of the state’s independent bookstore association, and managed to garner the support of many names in publishing. Authors like Neil Gaiman and Brian Selznick signed books or offered collectible items for purchase in different stores throughout the state.
As to whether or not it was a success, it would already seem so. Some member stores reported lines outside their doors waiting to get in at opening time, while other stores reported revenue increases for the day of almost 300%. But more important than the sales or the traffic was the perception that consumers came away with, the knowledge that their local stores are meeting vital needs in their communities and are gathering places of interest in a literary themed mindset.
One of the similarities in the reports of a successful California Bookstore Day is already the comments from stores that customers came for something more than just a book. Many came to participate in organized events at the stores, while others came for a specific purchase but lingered because so much was going on that day. While it’s probably inconceivable that stores put this much effort into the marketing and events side of their businesses on a daily basis, this might be an indication that consumers need something more than just the product they can buy at the click of a mouse. They crave an interactive experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere, either cheaper or more conveniently, and staying relevant may mean adapting to meeting a different type of need than just books.