Thursday, October 30, 2008

I read an interesting article in this morning's Publisher's Lunch about some book stores applying for a liquor license. Interesting. Boozing and browsing. Seriously though, you figure many book stores these days feature a coffee shop, some include a cafe, so why not alcohol?

I think the main goal is to boost evening and weekend store traffic. Not a bad idea. Plus with all the big chain stores bogarting the majority of book business, the indies have to do something different to set themselves apart. Would you rather go to Barnes and Noble to browse and sip lattés? Or to the corner bookshop where you can sip a brewski as you browse. Hmmm...

There are already retail stores that may not have a book section, but they'll feature books to go with other products, like cook books in cookware, and fashion books in the clothing section (especially if the book jackets color coordinate with what the maniken is wearing), and sports books in sporting goods. So why can't book stores be a cut above the mundane? Books would always be the focus, but there'd be add-on pleasures to your book buying experience.

I remember when there used to be story time at the local book store for the kiddies on the weekends. Do stores still do that? I'm glad the library does. My kids used to love that.

There's live music in some book store cafés. In fact, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the writers organization in Colorado that I belong to, just started an "open mic night" at different independant bookstores throughout the city. Members sign up to perform and read from their unpublished or published work. Sounds like great fun. I remember when I lived there we'd sometimes have open mic readings at local coffee shops, and that was a lot of fun, too. But I think bringing the entertainment to the book store is even better.

There's a great need to be creative in retail during these tough economic times. Book stores offer inexpensive entertainment through reading, and family night might have mom, dad and the kids spending a couple of hours at the local book store sharing a meal in the cafe, listening to live music or a reading, buying some books, then spending the rest of the evening at home curled up by the fire, reading to each other. I see the cocooning trend coming back, and it's about time, too.

What would be your fantasy book store? What would you like to see offered at your local book store that would make it special and more inviting?

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