Saturday, April 23, 2011

Borders Boarded

I didn't want to see it.

Borders... closed.

I remember meeting store manager Raeann Racine, and her agreeing to host my first ever book signing for my new book, The Adventures of Guy. She knew I had written big chunks of the book, sitting in her coffee shop, OD'ing on white chocolate mochas. She knew she could expect to see my daughter Lauren after birthday or Christmas put gift money in her hands, spending it all on her favorite Manga.

Still though, I don't think I expected much because unknown new authors can't expect much (though some don't realize this and their first signing is a shock).

Mine was a shock, for another reason. When I came in the front door of Borders, there was a picture of me on the front door that Raeann had gotten off my website. She greeted me with a smile and offered me a white chocolate mocha.

Then she took me to my books. She had locally advertised the event, and there was a table set up in the coffee-shop with a microphone, water, pens and fifty copies of The Adventures of Guy in a beautiful rack display.

I gulped.

Fifty copies takes up a lot of room.

I had passed out fliers promoting the event, but after talking with other authors I didn't expect many people to show up. And now I had fifty books sitting there, waiting for me to move them to the cash register.

About four people did show up, so the advertising had some kind of response. Some Borders employees filled out the crowd a bit more. So with less than a dozen people there, I soldiered on and spoke about my books.

All four people bought the books. But that left more than forty-five books.

Gulp again.

I couldn't leave that many unsold. I knew that, and I also didn't want to do that to Raeann. But there was no way I was going to sell anything sitting in the coffee shop.

So moved the books to the front of the store and started greeting customers as they came in, handing them my book, smiling a lot (even when they turned me down). I stayed there for six hours and sold twenty six books.

I felt awful, not realizing that twenty six books is awesome for a new author.

But I didn't know that, so I offered to come back the next week. Raeann said 'sure,' and I trundled off back home.

When I came back, a more modest display was set up, near the front. She had seen how I liked to work, and set it up the way I left it. This time I sold all but six. She seemed really pleased and had me sign the stock. Later, I saw the books in a display called, "Emerging New Authors." 

She introduced me to the Orland Park store manager, and made sure to tell them how hard I work. They learned this themselves, and soon my books were in 'Staff Picks' in both locations.

I went back to Borders Matteson for many more signings. She liked me and knew I hustled to sell the books. If I asked to come out, she said yes. She liked having me there in the Christmas season and we liked to set me next to where people would wait in long lines. I would entertain the people, talk books, let older ladies sit in my author chair. I never sat.

When Fang Face came out, it was the #2 seller in their store for Christmas behind some diary written by some wimpy kid.

When I heard Matteson would be one of the first casualties of Borders' reorganization, it was like a spike had been driven into my heart. I felt like Dracula the day after. I visited Raeann and thanked her for all of her support. I will have to mention her in my next book's acknowledgements. Hopefully, she will stay in the book market.

So a month later, it was with extreme sadness that I drove out to Borders one last time. I sat in the deserted parking lot, looking at the building, reminiscing about writing, selling and reading books.

To see it one more time.


And thank you.


1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain, Norm. My local Borders was another that closed down. I don't even live within a reasonable driving distance of another one. I never had a book signing there, but I did often enjoy a green tea latte at the Seattle's Best counter while browsing.