Football and independent bookselling

As begun on Facebook after a fun conversation with my co-worker: what if independent bookselling were more like (or anything like) professional football?

Being Eagles-centric, I thought that if I were the McNabb of bookselling, I would forget the alphabet from 2-5pm everyday and thus be incapable of shelving or doing my job properly.

My co-worker, our events coordinator, would get a bonus every time she signed a bestselling author for an event.

No matter what new releases came in on Tuesday, there’d be twenty blog posts up by Wednesday morning on fan blogs talking about how we were idiots to only go with four of the new Pynchon,and wondering if that new book from Featherproof was really going to prove itself or if we had just been snookered.

Kelly then chimed in: “And we’d still get paid the big bucks for all sick days due to paper cuts and box cutting injuries.”

John Mutter of Shelf Awareness: “How about an annual draft of the top bookseller prospects eligible for full-time jobs? C-Span could televise it. The stores down the most the previous year would have the top picks and could trade them. The major choices would have press conferences with their store managers and owners wearing store T-shirts or caps. Oh,and booksellers would have agents!”

Laurie Halse Anderson: “I will look forward to the inquiries and scandals when the news leaks out that you were recruited by the deep-pockets world of bookselling when you were an innocent teen with an astounding ability to read fast and naive parents who didn’t realize what that meant for your future career. And then the coaches came calling… in the dark….”

My boss: “So I guess I’m like the Jerry Maguire of bookselling. SHOW ME THE BOOK SALES!!!!!!”

Terra Elan McVoy, author of PURE and manager of Little Shop of Stories: “You’d want a quarterback who had more than one handsell in her–not always going to the same Audrey Niffeneger handoff: one who could stay in the pocket and not panic but still dole out some Andrea Barrett, a little Zadie Smith, maybe fake with some Chuck Klosterman, but who could also fire off one or two big, beautiful hail marys like selling that copy of Drood you’ve been hoping to get rid of before it comes out in PB next month.”

This is a game that had to be extended to the greater world, naturally. Post your best ideas about how to make indie bookselling more like the NFL while I try to get Roger Goodell on the phone.


4 comments so far

  1. Tess on

    The Peyton Manning of booksellers would be everywhere advertising BookTV (which would charge top dollars for commercial spots, especially for the big authors)and the ability of the electrolytes in SmartWater to step up your reading performance.

    Bookstore t-shirts would become collectibles, with value increasing on e-bay after key sellers retired or moved to other locations.

    “Away events” could be scheduled to test the merits of strong sellers in inclement weather. Can the Vroman’s staff keep customers coming into WORD during the winter snows? I think you guys have some home field advantage. Place your bets here.

  2. Sam on

    and Winter Institute would be in Hawaii every year, and we’d get bonuses for just being selected to go, then sit on the beach while reading Spring ARCs and not actually doing any hard bookselling work.

  3. ~Linda~ on

    Too fun.. after the winter in Hawaii, there would be therapeutic massages, and a personal trainer to get the shelving arm back in shape!

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