300 Seconds

The Shelf Life of Shelf Talkers

The Shelf Life of Shelf Talkers

What is the purpose of the shelf talker? I think it allows the bookseller to have a voice for those times when one can’t attend to everyone in the store or when a customer prefers to “just browse” on their own. A well-placed shelf talker can draw attention to a gem of a read and point out to the browser that not only did you take the time to read this book, you also took time to pen your thoughts about it so others might read it, too.

Those amazing shelf talkers are beneficial to all. Until they’re not.

I believe shelf talkers have a shelf life. Well, maybe “shelf life” isn’t the right analogy. Perhaps “shelf space” would be better. There are only so many shelf talkers that will arrest my eye. Too many, and I do not see any — nor do I see the books they are supposed to highlight.

On a recent visit to Minneapolis, I found myself at DreamHaven Books. I think there was only one shelf talker in the entire store. It was printed on 8.5 x 11″ paper and was laminated. And it certainly captured my attention *and* my imagination. So much so that I took this picture of it.

Now, one shelf talker in the entire store is a bit extreme, but I actually prefer it to too many.

Today I recommend that you use your 300 marketing seconds to cull your talkers. Spread them out between the sections and let a variety of booksellers have a voice, but really give some thought to the books you’re highlighting. If a talker has been displayed for years and the employee doesn’t even work there anymore, it’s probably time to retire it to the file.

300 Seconds: Schedule That Auto-Reply

If you plan to be away from the bookstore for Winter Institute or any other extended period of time, it’s a good idea to schedule an auto-reply message for any emails that arrive while you’re out.

Even if you plan to check your inbox while you’re away, go ahead and set up a message anyway. That way you’ll build in a little grace period before you have to reply.

Go ahead and tell your recipient that you’re at a conference just for booksellers and you’re so excited about the ideas and energy you’ll bring back to the store.

Go ahead and tell them about the authors you’re hoping to meet.

Go ahead and tell them about the book you started reading that nearly made you miss breakfast completely.

Bookselling is personal. There’s no reason your auto-reply shouldn’t be, too.

If you need inspiration, here you go: [The Brilliance of the Auto-Reply Message]

300 Seconds: Take This With You to Wi12

As you pack for Winter Institute, I have a little something for you to take along. This blank 2017 calendar.

You know how exciting it can be to visit with fellow booksellers over drinks, to listen to a panel of event coordinators, or to just have a few minutes to think on your own away from the store, right? Rather than jotting down ideas that come to you in a notebook that you’ll have to decipher when you get back home, go ahead and pencil them in on this calendar.

By placing ideas directly onto the calendar, you are one step ahead in the planning process. That way when you decide you want to try hosting a cookbook trunk show in September, a glance at your calendar might remind you that October would be better in order to miss Teacher Appreciation Week.

As you add your brilliant ideas to the calendar, go ahead and include the names of staff required to help execute each idea. Then when you get back to the store, you know who to include in the planning and the burden is distributed among several sets of shoulders.

These blank calendars can also be helpful to keep track of pub dates. If three books you want to review all are going to be released on April 24, knowing that fact can be helpful as you arrange your reading stack.

Finally, a blank calendar that’s not part of your leather bound planner can offer a lot of freedom to schedule, cross-out, erase, and dream freely.

It’s just paper. Make it messy. Dream big.

300 Seconds: Preparing for Wi12

300 Seconds: Preparing for Wi12

For those of you attending Wi12, I have some last-minute reminders to add to your preparation checklist. I’ve broken them down into 5-minute segments this week so get can tackle them a little at a time.

Today, check your stock of business cards. Do you need to print more? Has any of the information changed? Have you made any corrections with a ballpoint pen? It’s probably time for a reprint, and you can even have a short-run printed before you leave town.

When designing a business card, it’s important to include a few things in the design:

  • Personalization: your name, followed by what you do.
  • The name of the store, either in text or through your logo, should be prominently placed. If your logo is your brand, use it.
  • All of your locations: the address of your brick-and-mortar store and the address of your online store.
  • Other ways you can be reached, like phone numbers (include your mobile number if you want to be reachable) and email addresses. If you depend on faxes, go ahead and list that number.
  • If you’re active on Twitter, you might consider adding your handle. Otherwise, other social media locators can be found through your website.
  • Do you find yourself continually writing missing information on the back? Consider adding those items you typically write to your card.
  • And speaking of writing on the card, be sure to leave plenty of white space on the front or back. White space is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s necessary for those who want to write notes on the card. Even if you’re not a “card writer,” the recipient of your card might be.
  • One final thing before you send them off to the printer: Proofread it. Call the numbers listed, email the address you provide, and have another set of eyes make sure you didn’t miss a “dot” in your email or accidentally provide your home phone number (if you still have one of those).

If you’ve been putting off reprinting cards because of some changes expected in a few months, it’s still a good idea to print a small batch for the conference. Then send the large order to the printer when you get back in town.

300 Seconds: Special Orders Don’t Upset Us

This time of year, more than ever, it’s important that everyone at the store knows how long it will take to special order a book for a customer. Spend a few minutes today figuring out the last day you can take a special order from each of your regular suppliers. Check how long shipping will take (the USPS has a handy tool for that, for example) and calculate the last day you can ship a book to arrive before the 25th.

Then type up the dates and post them at the register. Booksellers and customers alike will be happy for the reassurance.