I don’t think you can have a conversation about bookstores, in Birmingham, Alabama, without Jim Reed Books being mentioned within the first two minutes of the discussion. Reed has done many things “right” and the shop is a favorite destination for many bibliophiles around the Southeast. As a unique a place as his store is, it’s his newsletter (sign-up at the bottom of his site’s page) that bookstores could learn something from.
Reed is a creative writer and inspiring free-thinker and each edition of the email newsletter is peppered with his prose, but my favorite part is always the “What We Sold Last Week“. It’s like scanning someone’s bookshelf right from my InBox.
Of course, you never know who bought these books or even where the lucky book owner lives. But I have tripped over so many interesting titles and authors while skimming the newsletter that I never even would have even known to look for. His last email had 225+ items listed. Some are records. Some are gizmos. Most are books. Amazing. I am certain that 99% of them I have never heard of.
I’m not saying that your shop would have to be as consistant as Reed (though it helps) and you certainly wouldn’t have to publish lists as exhaustive as his, but it is fun for your customers (and potential customers) to see what others in their community are buying, outside of the “Best Sellers” and “Book Sellers Recommends” lists. Who knows what unknown titles (and sales) would surface.