Lessons learned from a failed LDS bookstore
I love books. I always have. There’s just something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages to read it. A book to me represents an accomplishment. The author worked long and hard to get it into a format to be published. The editors made sure that there were no typos and that the grammar was acceptable to most readers. The printer did their best to produce a good product and the publisher spent lots of time and money to market it. But that’s not the accomplishment I’m talking about.
When I get a new book I usually buy it for one of several reasons. Highest on that list of reasons to buy is if it was recommended to me by someone I trust. Second is if the author is someone whose work I have read previously and with whom I am familiar. Third is if the book is one that is getting a lot of press or ranks high on a bestsellers list somewhere. But that’s not always why I buy. I’ll often pick up a book and just browse through the first page or two, skip to the back and read the last page or two and of course, read the front and back covers.
Building a library
Once I’ve decided that this book might be a worthwhile investment I buy it and put it on my bookshelf. “What? You don’t read it right away?” No, not usually – not unless it is something that directly relates to a project I am working on or was so intriguing when I bought that I just have to know what’s in it or how it turns out. Yep, I have dozens of books in my library that I have not yet read all the way through. They do eventually get read and I keep a mental list of which ones I intend to read and usually by what time frame I intend to read them.
When I have finally read the book and absorbed what the author tried to say, that book then turns into an accomplishment. I can say that I have read it and I have learned something from it. It may not be what the author intended but if I invest my time to read a book then I’m going to come away enriched in some way. I’m either going to have an increased understanding of a subject, or a different opinion of the author or both. That book has then become a part of me.
Why I love books
Do you know why I love books? Because my mother loved books. My mother loved to read and she taught me to read when I was very little. I love to read because my mother instilled in me a love of learning. We didn’t have a TV in my home when I was growing up because my mother wanted us to read. She read to us, we read to her and we especially read in the summer months. We were always visiting the library and checking out books to read. Mother was always buying us books to read and they always seemed to be books that had won awards.
Mother loved books so much and loved to discuss them that when she retired from teaching school she took her life savings and opened a bookstore. She was so excited to pick out the selection of all the books she loved. She arranged them just so on the shelves and eagerly anticipated the many enjoyable conversations she would have with customers when they came in to buy books or ask her what she recommended that day. It was just too bad that mother didn’t realize that not everyone shared her love of books, especially the ones she chose.
Selling LDS books is not easy
Mother specialized in LDS Books. The location for the bookstore was OK. It was in a nice new shopping center in the relatively affluent town of LaVerne CA. Oh she had regular books and bestsellers, both fiction and non-fiction but for the most part, mother invested her inventory in books from Deseret Book, Bookcraft, Horizon and other LDS publishers. I remember going to several booksellers conventions to learn about all the new books coming out that season.
It was a sad day when mother closed her bookstore. It didn’t even last a year. She had sadly miscalculated in her plans. She had mistaken her love of reading, learning, sharing and teaching for something that could be marketed and sold in the cold business world. She just couldn’t understand why the customers didn’t flock to her door. It takes time to establish a clientele and she had a lot of competition from the big resellers that could undercut her.
Summary and conclusion
I don’t look at mother’s bookstore as a failure although she often did. Mother taught me that you should go for your dreams even if they don’t come to fruition like you had hoped. Not only did mother pass on to me her love of learning but also her passion for sharing. I love to share things I learn because I saw the joy that sharing brought to my mother. Most of the time that joy is reciprocated as the teacher and the learner rejoice together. This blog is like my mother’s bookstore, except that thanks to Blogger, the initial investment is, well, nothing but my time.