My first ever job was at Grey Wolf Books in San Leandro, CA. Could you believe that my first ever paying job was at an independent bookstore in 1999? As a freshman in high school with no prior work experience, this family-owned shop took me in. I learned how their business functioned: working the cash register, pricing and sorting books after purchasing in bulk from various sources.
All businesses need to make a profit in order for it to stay afloat and grow. What set them apart from the Borders, and Barnes and Nobles that grew immensely was that profit didn’t drive them. What I remember from this business was a husband and wife team who loved what they were doing. They loved being around books and sharing their abundant inventory with their customers. It just so happens that they were making money doing so. Which is fine of course since this is the source of their livelihood. They also treated their employees as part of their extended family. A lesson they taught me that I will never forget is the perception of prices: $1 looks a whole lot more than 99 cents!
Unfortunately Grey Wolf Books closed – like many other independent bookstores since Borders, and Barnes and Nobles had to keep growing their profits. Oh yeah, Amazon came along…
But we shouldn’t lose hope because today is CA Bookstore Day and we should be celebrating:
Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.
Indie bookstores, whether dusty and labyrinthine or clean and well-lighted, are not just stores, they are solutions. They hold the key to your love life, your career, and your passions. Walking the aisles of a good bookstore means stumbling upon a novel from India that expands your heart. It’s encountering an art book that changes the direction of your life. It’s the joy of having a perfect stranger steer you toward the perfect book.
Learn more at www.cabookstoreday.com
Many Bay Area indie bookstores in SF, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda are holding events! To find one near you visit: Find a Bookstore celebrating CA Bookstore Day
By the way, today is the last day to participate in our CA Bookstore Day contest. It ends at 6pm, so be sure to share your favorite book on a participating Facebook Page!