"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." Jerry Seinfeld


Our final Monday

Two gentlemen are in our Bistro right now removing light fixtures from the ceiling. There are exposed wires everywhere.

The entire store is at least 70% off. We've begun barricading off sections with turned-out bookcases. We're down to only a handful of books in many sections and when I direct customers to the remaining shelves, most reply with, "That's it?" and they walk away without browsing.

We've had two customers come in looking to buy a cup of coffee from our Bistro, which has been closed for four weeks. Others are disappointed that the kids section is gutted & the play area is roped off with CAUTION tape. A few have complained about the power drills that are dismantling fixtures; another pointed out our overhead still has Christmas music on.

The booksellers have made multiple Starbucks runs. We are working in silence today, tucked in corners doing returns, moving bookcases without speaking, looking at our cell phones to measure the time & hoping a call for an interview comes through. Most of us have promised to stay through the end; all of us are thankful this is almost over.


Farewell Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Tonite, after ten years in Cleveland, our store will gather for its last holiday party. To say tonite will be bittersweet is the understatement of the decade.

We were never just a bookstore staff. Over the years we've become relationship counselors, shoulders to lean on, and partners in crime -- not only to each other, but also to our customers. Our favorite moments consisted of those conversations with other book lovers who were looking for a good read, a book for their mother, an "I'm sorry" gift for their partner, or an educational toy for their grandchild. We loved when customers came back, seeking us out for more advice after we'd been so helpful on their last visit. We remember hugging customers who were looking for a book to make sense of their grief, getting our cheeks pinched by little old ladies who were so ecstatic that we knew which book with the red cover they were looking for, and the smiles & little "thank you's" from toddlers who got their own bag with their own book inside. We relished buying someone a cup of coffee while we tackled their holiday book list, turning a Big Box Shopper into an Indie Supporter, and the challenge of finding a rare book through a long internet search. Author events, no matter how big or small, were always full of surprises & challenges and always made for the best stories.

For many of us, we saw our work family more than our real family and those bonds are just as strong as if we shared blood. We have found best friends, future bridesmaids & godparents, sounding boards, character references, and lifelong soulmates in each other. We have laughed, cried, yelled at and with each other. We have conspired with each other, collaborated on projects, and cooked for each other. We loved each other and turned that affection on our store to the tune of a 25% increase in top-line book sales, and a 10% increase in overall top-line store sales in a year when the critics declared death on the book industry. Ebooks, Kindles, and Amazon did not kill our spirit or our bookstore. In fact, they motivated us to do everything we could to control every bottom line factor. And we did. In the end, it was nothing we did or did not do as a staff that caused our closing. In the end, we went down fighting, kicking & screaming, the only way a bookstore should.

Tonite we will gather at to celebrate this year and to say goodbye to Joseph-Beth. Tonite will not, however, be a goodbye to each other. We cannot imagine dismantling this family of booksellers and friends and we are determined to not let losing our bookstore translate into losing each other. Bowling parties, happy hours, and potluck dinners will be a part of our future. We've made plans to visit each other at our new places of business and we started a Facebook group to stay in touch.

Tonite, we will take comfort in the death of our bookstore by celebrating the afterlife of our friendships.


Where's President Carter?

When we booked our event with former President Jimmy Carter, we began a half-joking ritual of knocking on wood whenever we mentioned our preparations. As the weeks progressed, we learned that in spite of his age, President Carter was witty, inquisitive, and still very much involved in world politics. We heard stories of the 1200 people who turned out for his event several years ago, of how gracious the President and Mrs. Carter were towards our staff -- our Master Bookseller loved to talk of how Mrs. Carter found out during the middle of the signing that the government had approved their mission to Palestine. We began promotion weeks in advance, worked diligently with the publisher to meet all of the President's needs, and prepped our staff and customers for the intensity of the event.

On September 28, our staff arrived hours before opening to make final changes proposed by the Secret Service. Customers braved downpours to be the first in line, and by the time 11am rolled around, two hours before his scheduled arrival, close to 500 people stood in line. Parents had excused their children from school, many had traveled from more than three hours away, and customers from as far as Texas had called to purchase a signed copy.

At 11:30, we got the call that the President's plane had arrived and the car was en route to the bookstore. Being only 30 minutes from the airport, we made numerous last minute prep checks, staged our booksellers and the Secret Service moved through the store making extra security checks.

At 12:15, we glanced towards the curtained off area, thinking any minute we would see his shadow heading towards the staging room. We joked that the motorcade was probably stuck on I-480 due to rubberneckers needing to get a look at the flat tire on the side of the road. Everyone stayed put; we were nervous with excitement by this point, knowing our months of preparation was about to pay off.

At 12:30, our Events Coordinator approached us with her jaw hanging open. She'd received a text message that said the President had been rushed to the hospital. We all grabbed our cell phones and sure enough, the news was all over Twitter, Facebook, and we all had texts and voicemails. Within seconds of finding out ourselves, the crowd began to mumble & the questions began to fly.

The Secret Service insisted it was a go for the event; we were told by the head of the team to make an announcement that the event was delayed, but not cancelled. A few event-go'ers gave up early, making returns, leaving shrugging their shoulders. Others asked us to hold their spots in line while they used the restroom, or got a cup of coffee. Many began to pray. Most were on their cell phones and laptops, keeping us all up-to-date. The news crews left; only two local papers stuck around. The Secret Service insisted he was coming, and we believed them. Our staff went into backup mode -- we made a Delay Strategy, then a Cancellation Strategy, just in case. We were reassigned. We were ready again.

Then the phones began to ring. The local and national networks called first. Then we began fielding calls from the Associated Press, The New York Times, Politico, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and CSPAN, NPR, and all of the local AM news stations, not to mention our family and friends, our regular customers, and the curious gossipers. The cacophony of ringing phones, the nervous & frustrated buzz of the customers, and the many rumors we were faced with rattled us. About 45 minutes after the delay, a bookseller handed me the phone saying the President's publisher needed to speak with a manager. I spoke with a rep at FSG who gave us official confirmation of the cancellation. About ten minutes later, the Secret Service told us to make an announcement and agents left, assumedly reassigned to Metro Hospital.

We prepared for an onslaught of returns but only 50 people asked for it. I manned the doors, thanking everyone for coming, telling them to check our website during the week for a reschedule date. The local news crews who had abandoned us during the delay were back outside our doors, stopping customers for interviews. A few were angry, many disappointed, two were openly crying, and only one thanked me for our gracious staff. Within twenty minutes, the store was empty, we turned the Glee soundtrack back on, and we all tried to breathe. The staff dispersed, back to our regular assignments. The management staff began to return phone calls and emails from concerned members of the publishing industry. Our general manager spoke to half a dozen reporters, giving the rest of us the opportunity to plan a rescheduling strategy.

The early morning crew convened upstairs to eat the lunch our Bistro had prepared for the President. For close to an hour, we talked about what worked, adjustments to make in the coming weeks, and we laughed with relief that even though it didn't go as planned, we had succeeded in how we handled it. At one point, the room quieted as we all sent silent wishes for the President's recovery. We headed home, exhausted from the long day, all of us eager to do it all over again in a few weeks.

We spent the evening watching the news, reading websites, and texting each other the old mantra "All publicity is good publicity." We sent each other links to news stories on international sites where the only English we understood was "Joseph-Beth Booksellers." At 9am on Wednesday, the phone calls began about rescheduling dates, news crews called for final details and for information on how to be included in the media crew for the makeup date. Everyday customers saw our banners & our rebuilt display at the front of the store and stopped us to ask, "The President was coming here when he fell ill?" and the staff liked reliving the hectic day. In the end, we went back to doing what we did so well yesterday -- we waited.

Business leaders will tell you that the true test of a team is how well they handle the unexpected. We never expected to host an event with a former president. We never expected a last-second cancellation. We never expected the support from the publishing industry and from our customers as we work out Plan B. We never expected that our event with President Carter would make us a stronger bookstore - that it was just the thing we needed to recharge, refocus, and remember why we serve the Cleveland area.

I can only imagine how he'll change us -- as a store, as a team, and as a community -- we he arrives. Get well soon, Mr. President. We can't wait to meet you.


YA-D2: The YA Dystopian Reading Challenge

Every year, I tackle a genre I normally don't read. This year, I attemped business books and failed miserably. After reading only three books that all contradicted each other, I gave up on the challenge & instead focused on just reading what appealed to me. I discovered a lot of new authors & also a few new genres, one of which will be my genre of choice for the rest of the year.

I read Hunger Games early in the year, liking it enough to also pick up Catching Fire although I have not read it yet. The buzz surrounding Mockingjay (and my secret love for the title) made me do a little investigating into dystopian literature. I stumbled across Bart's Bookshelf and his YA-D2 challenge made total sense to me. I've always loved YA lit but this year's readings have kept me in the adult fiction section of my bookstore. Being able to dive back into the genre and explore a new side of it works out perfectly.

I'm taking on Level Three of the challenge -- 5 or more YA dystopian titles between October 1 and December 19. I have a personal yearly goal of reading at least one novel a week so this challenge shouldn't be a problem. I also used Bart's list of 50 Fantastic YA Dystopian Titles and discovered a pretty good amount on my living room bookshelf. Who knew I have always been intrigued by the genre but only read one title from it?!

My YA-D2 List
1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (not going to officially count this one since it's a re-read)
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
5. For The Win by Cory Doctorow (I'm reading this as a free e-book on my phone!)
6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
7. Gone by Michael Grant
8. Hunger by Michael Grant
9. Incarceron by Fisher
10. something by Scott Westerfield I haven't read yet (need to check bibliography)
11. Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
12. The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness
13. Genesis by Bernard Beckett
14. The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle


Goodness gracious, great blogs afire!

It's been exactly six months since I last updated my book blog. I started writing with great intentions and aspirations. And then the Barnes & Noble up the street from my indie bookstore closed & our sales took off. It's been six months of heaven - we're smashing year-over-year sales, and exceeding this year's goals. We've made dozens of new community connections, opened a textbook store, and have landed big name author events. Unfortunately, it means I'm working way more often than I thought I would, reading more than I have in years, and taking work home every night. But when I look at our nightly sales, it makes it worth it knowing we'll keep our doors open for another day.

When Book Blogger Appreciation Week rolled around, I knew I had to get back on the wagon. I've missed writing about books & reading the other blogs around the web that blow mine out of the water. Day One of BBAW asked us to write about a great new blog we've discovered in the last year. Day Two (today) asks us to interview a fellow blogger. I didn't sign up for Day Two but I've been reading a few of the interviews & my Google Reader is slowly expanding. I decided to combine both days & show my appreciation for the bloggers who keep my nightstand full of books & my bookseller brain turned on at my store. I'm hoping this week expands our network & helps rejuvenate those of us who need a reminder of why we started reading & blogging in the first place.

The Book Buff - Book Reviews for Regular People
Honest reviews written for everyone. Easy to search by genre, keyword, and rating (my favorite part is how the reviews are rated by whether or not to buy, borrow, or ignore). The "you might also like" section is great for readers who are looking for a new title in their preferred genre. Writing is conversational, making it light, engaging reading.

Lenore is one of my favorite bloggers & not only because she also posts adorable kitteh pictures alongside her reviews. Well-written, thorough and honest reviews with excellent resources for book bloggers in the sidebar. I also follow Lenore on Twitter - be sure to check this one out.

Brews & Books - Read Great Books, Drink Great Beer
Josh Christie combines books & brews in a humorous way. The Bookrageous podcast, his Twitter presence, and great taste in beer & literature make him one of the freshest voices in the blogging world. Josh also archives his posts according to subject so Josh has something to offer even the soberest of readers. He's also a fellow bookseller :)

The master of professional book reviews. I can't count the number of times a customer comes to me saying, "I read a review in the New York Times about this book" or how many times I surf the site trying to find a specific title. While the writers lean towards the contemporary, literary works, they are a great resource for booksellers who want to make sure they have the titles getting the most attention during a given week. This site helps us keep our front tables fresh.


Evidence 007: Kindle Users

I love working with Joanna on Wednesday nights. We usually end up laughing and joking with ourselves and our customers more than we reshelve books. Last week was no exception - Joanna and I both had customers and the four of us were carrying on a conversation. My customer was returning a copy of Sarah's Key, explaining that there was nothing wrong with the book but she already had a copy...and had read it...on her Kindle.

I got quiet and Joanna glanced at me, knowing the secret hatred I hold for the Kindle. Even her customer got quiet. Mine, however, continued to chat about her Kindle. "It's a wonderful book. I really enjoyed reading it on my Kindle. Is that what I put here in the 'reason for return' box -- 'read it on my Kindle'? I think I'll put that" (she begins to write) "" I was silent through the entire rest of the transaction. As I pushed her return receipt back across the counter, she tapped her original receipt and said, "I actually have two copies of this book." "You only returned one," I replied. "Yeah, I have the other on my Kindle. Thanks for your help!" And she walked away.

I slowly turned to Joanna who looked at me with pure sympathy. She said, "So, was that supposed to make you feel better?" Her customer and the two of us laughed but the burn of losing a $15 sale to a Kindle stayed with me the rest of the night.

I understand independent bookstores need to get on the ebook train sooner rather than later. I welcome the challenge and opportunity with open arms. But I hate losing a sale to a Kindle. I hate seeing customers browse my tables, punching the Kindle screen. I hate even more when I spend ten minutes handselling titles to someone who's an obvious bibliophile & then see them sitting in a corner, sipping a coffee, downloading that stack onto their device. But the knife in the heart and the back and the soul was that return. Knowing I was eating a fifteen dollar return and had lost a physical book buying customer to the Kindle hurt.

I know now we need to get moving into ebook culture fast. If our readers are going elsewhere to get their books, we need to go with them. There are no excuses anymore...


Evidence 006: By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

I'll read anything Julie Anne Peters writes. She is one of the few authors I refuse to part with, either lending or donating -- her books stay on my shelves. One day, my children will read her works. I'm adding By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead with pride. I'm so grateful that Peters is not afraid to talk about what needs to be talked about.

The slow moving trend of bullycide started with Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and continues with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Peters adds to the genre with a raw look at the real psychological and physical effects of bullying. It's not just a grade school, playground phenomenon -- bullying is ever-present and even more dangerous, extreme, plotted, and ignored in high school. Daelyn has dealt with it her entire life; she didn't grow out of it, she couldn't fit in, and when it became too much to live with, she decided to end her life. Several failed attempts have rendered her mute, scared, and scarred. She's determined this time will be the success she's waited for.

Daelyn discovers a website which shows her she is not alone in her journey towards death. Avoiding her watchful, nervous parents is easy; staying away from the curious, extroverted, comical Santana proves difficult and frustrating. As Daelyn is attempting to end her life, Santana wants to be a part of it, sharing his own scars and fears even as Daelyn refuses to share her own. As she begins to purge her life of her belongings, and writes about her reasons behind her choice, Daelyn shuts down and shuts off everyone around her. There are faint flickers of hope - wishing to be comforted by her mother, Santana's cheesy attempts at romance, even attention from a possible new friend. She's confused by new feelings, determined to stay on track, and she begins to finally face her past as she sees her future becoming shorter and shorter.

I had chills from beginning to end. As someone who's lost two people to suicide, seeing life from this perspective was fresh, humbling, comforting. Daelyn is real; her thoughts, feelings, and actions are, too. This makes this novel even more important, more powerful, and more necessary for any parent, teacher, and teen wondering if they really are alone.


Evidence 005: Heist Society by Ally Carter

In a nutshell, Ocean's 11 The Prequel. Which is exactly why I loved Heist Society (besides the fact that Ally Carter is a YA genius).

Katarina Bishop comes from a long line of thieves and, at a very young age, follows their footsteps in the art heist world. She decides enough is enough and relishes a "real teenage life" in the hallowed halls of Colgan School. Her reprieve is short-lived; Kat is framed for a prank-beyond-all-pranks that thrusts her back into the world she longed to escape. When W.W. Hale, a rival-turned-accomplice, arrives to bring her back to the family business, Kat questions whether she should have left at all.

Kat's father has been accused of stealing priceless works of art from Arturo Taccone, a notorious mastermind Hale calls "evil" and who proudly lives up to the moniker. Taccone gives Kat two weeks to save his paintings and her father. Kat's loyalty to her family trumps her loyalty to the business and she gathers a multi-talented, dysfunctional crew reminiscent of Danny Ocean's. A worldwide wild goose chase leads Kat and her crew down dead ends, riddling conundrums, and into the lair of Visily Romani, the most notorious of thieves. Taccone's constant surveillance and her father's fate weigh heavy on Kat and keep the story moving at a quick pace. There are many hold-your-breath moments and the final heist is full of action, suspense, and humor. The underlying flirtation between Hale, Kat, and crew member Nick isn't a distraction - something so rare in suspense novels.

I will read anything Ally Carter writes - I'm chomping at the bit for Gallagher Girls #4, and now I'm eagerly awaiting Heist Society #2. Carter has a knack for dialogue and plotting that moves the story along at a page-turning pace. She's a perfect author for a reader looking for good story, light romance, and lots of humor.


I've done what I swore I'd never do...

I broke my schedule. Stopped escaping into the office with a mug of tea to write, research, edit, and read for the blog. I let Shelf Awareness back up, tossed publisher pick newsletters aside, let the to-do box overwhelm the completed box. I kick myself every night when I crawl into bed without accomplishing something in the book world other than what I get done at the store.

The first three months of the new year suck at a bookstore. Sales are down, customers aren't spending, exciting new releases are minimal, and (when you live in my neck of the woods) the temperatures are just as miserable as the economic climate. It's hard to motivate myself to write about books when I spend all day moving them around to kill some time.

So, I need to get myself remotivated, back on track. I've been reading a lot more (something I didn't do for the six weeks of holiday season) so I'll start posting reviews. I have to go through my publisher catalogs -- I owe some reps some lists. I need to respond to the latest #amazonfail, even if it's late. I need to vent about the new Kindle users who hide upstairs to tap into our wi-fi and leave their coffee cups all over our tables, the customers who are irritated because their kid's teacher didn't call the bookstore to tell us the class of 30 kids needs Macbeth for tomorrow (we've got a plan in place - it's brilliant), and how the very liberal community where we are located has gone all conservative in the last two months and thrown all of my ordering out of whack.

I need to tell you about how good Heist Society by Ally Carter is, how effective the Penguin Classics Deluxe editions are in driving fiction sales, and why in the world we are up double-digits in sales year-over-year. I need to tell you about New Orleans nite in the Bistro, the bookseller's Anti-Valentine's Day party, and how simply putting Michael Jackson's greatest hits on the overhead changes the demeanor of both customer and bookseller.

I'm starting to get a little mojo back. I think it's time to start writing again.


Evidence 004: Biggest Loser Simple Swaps

Title & Author: The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps by Cheryl Forberg
Publisher & Pub Date: Rodale 2009
Source of Review Copy: purchased at Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Every single January, I make the delusional resolution that I'm going to lose weight. This year, I decided to start early by using the program that works, with awesome results. I've watched The Biggest Loser since the beginning, usually falling in love with a player/team within the first show (this year, it's the Yellow Team - I can't wait for them to come back!). Their success makes me want my own and The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps has put me on the right path.

The premise of the program is to swap out 100 of the foods you eat with healthier alternatives, adding in a workout program and calorie counting. I started keeping a food journal, listing everything I ate, along with their caloric content. I'll admit I've strayed from the journal, but I keep a running tab in my head. I've also started paying attention to how much fat is in a serving - but that doesn't mean I'm giving up peanut butter any time soon!

While the book is broken down into chapters like "The Power of Protein" and "Creating a Game Plan," the most helpful sections are the swap boxes on every page. They suggest everything from "swap lettuce for spinach" to "swap a donut for a phone call" to "swap a dinner plate for a salad plate". The swap boxes explain why each swap is a better alternative and are rather convincing. I now have a can of chickpeas in my cupboard - I hate chickpeas. But they are loaded with protein and the recipe for Spicy, Crunchy Chickpeas was too tempting to pass up.

The recipes are easy to follow and don't require a lot of super-fancy, super-expensive ingredients found in a lot of weight-loss and diet cookbooks. The recipes focus on fresh ingredients found in the perimeter of grocery stores -- lots of fresh produce, meat, and dairy. Everything is lean, fat-free, low-sodium, whole wheat, but not missing in taste when combined in the right portions with the right ingredients. In my last shopping trip, in which I had a Swaps Only grocery list with ingredients for six recipes, I spent $80 & ran out of room in my fridge. And it's full of color!

The first recipe I tried was the Sweet Grilled Cheese Sandwich (pg 108). If you know me, you know I'm very particular about my grilled cheese. It is sacred; my temple is Melt. So, provolone on cinnamon raisin bread raised my eyebrows but encouraged my tastebuds. I burnt the hell out of the first sandwich (heat was on too high). But the second sandwich...oh boy...I'll never eat American on white again.

Last night, I made Veggie Lasagna (pg 63). I never made "regular" lasagna so I was a little daunted. There's no pasta in this recipe -- the layers are made up of a sauce (red pepper, onion, lean turkey Italian sausage), thin sliced zucchini, and a seasoned ricotta mixture. It took me about 30 minutes to prep, cook, and assemble the pan. After baking, it looks nothing like the picture, and doesn't hold together like regular lasagna, and the 1/2 tsp of pepper was too much, but it was very very good. And filling but not in an "I'm so stuffed I'll never eat again." I was full but I had energy & wasn't craving sweets. The meat sauce will also taste amazing over pasta.

Since I started the swaps, I've saved myself $20 a week in groceries. I've gone from a size 14 to a 10/12. I snack on things like snap peas, green beas, and peppers instead of crackers or candy. I get full but not stuffed and I have more energy. I haven't been able to get into a steady workout routine & I'm debating joining a gym. I've joined a hiking group and am looking into the Field Trip program at the Museum of Natural History. Slowly, but surely, the weight will come off. Simple Swaps really lives up to its name.


Evidence 003.2: Bloggiesta wrap-up

I'll admit to being a little averse to participating in Bloggiesta this year -- as newbie, I didn't think I actually needed an entire weekend to tweak what little I had. Fortunately, Friday's horrific weather prevented me from going to work but gave me ample time to really look at my blog. And I'm so glad I did.

It took me almost two hours to figure out how to fix my comments, although I'm still not sure why my date won't show up. (I'm going to need to bribe my brother to take a look at my html.) Blogs are tagged, I have a sticky note list of ones to use in the future, a review policy and copyright are up, I have a review template and a cheat sheet, and I made an RSS feed (although I might find a better button at some point). I also became a member of the Book Blogs Ning which has already paid off; I've also had a few people from Twitter and my personal Facebook account say thanks for updating them with my link.

I have yet to sit down with my coworker to discuss the social media card, mainly because we haven't worked together yet and secondly because I keep changing my mind. I also haven't signed on for Goodreads yet. Oddly enough, I got an email today from Ellen Wittlinger (whom I worship) asking me to join up with her. I will definitely start the account, mostly to motivate myself to work through my TBR pile a little faster. There are still a few pieces of my layout to work on (font size, text bars, etc) but, again, I need a brotherly expert. (It also doesn't help that most of it was written in Spanish!) My biggest challenge left is to start following fellow book bloggers - the only way to get read is to read, so I need to start weeding through the shared RSS feeder and some of the bloggers on the Ning.

All in all, Bloggiesta helped me make my blog even better. I'm really looking forward to participating next year after I've got a few more posts under my belt.


Evidence 003: Bloggiesta

Once a year, the weather in Cleveland becomes too dicey to chance my 25-miles-one-way drive to work. Today is that day and with Bloggiesta, the timing could not have been more perfect. Bloggiesta is in its second year and is a time for bloggers to get all spruced up for the new year. For new bloggers like myself, it's the perfect time to tweak the things my betas and first readers have noticed/suggested for my blog. Below is a to-do list -- I'll report back on Monday, but you'll see a few cosmetic changes if you hang out with me this weekend!

Bloggiesta To-Do List
*Troubleshoot comments link (done, but now dates disappeared)
*Outline social media business card w/elevator pitch for blog
*Update Twitter & personal FB with blog links (done)
*Create review policy (done)
*Goodreads account "what I'm reading" widgets
*Create favicon/gravatar (done - not what I expected)
*Become a member of Book Blogs ning group
*Create labels list (done)
*Do as many mini-challenges as possible
*Go through the What Book Is That tips post (done)

That's from the original list - I'll edit to add more as the weekend continues.

Setting Goals
The strengths of this blog will be its consistency. I love my CSI-type theme and I'm excited to use it and write often. My reviews will be honest and timely. I plan on staying dedicated to this blog and its subject matter. I plan to write about my store, my co-workers, the books we sell, and why supporting local business is so vital to a community. My challenges lie in making sure the daily bookstore responsibilities don't overwhelm me and my dedication to keeping this updated. The other major challenge is getting this blog to stand out against all the other book blogs that already exisit - I think I need to find a stronger nitche, or a better way to market myself in order to make a name for myself.

I plan to write twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays. I will advertise on Twitter, via email, and on my personal Facebook. I am also going to ask a coworker to help design a social networking business card that I can use for my bookstore connections. I would like to get more involved with my local NaNoWriMo group that will continue to meet during the year. I would also like to begin networking with other book bloggers on a more regular basis. I'm also planning to stay current with my 2010 Genre Challenge...I just need to finish the fiction I'm reading now so I can start!


Evidence 002: The Diehards

The snow season has officially arrived in Cleveland, albeit a little bit late. (Not that I'm complaining. Much.) With it comes the slushy, icy, at times impassable, roads. This weekend's twenty-four hour snowstorm took its toll - it took some of our managers almost two hours to get to work, and it's caused me to wait for the plows instead of chancing the drive. But that doesn't stop our regulars who have earned the Diehard moniker.

Our Sunday New York Times reader still showed up. The lady in the purple who shops our bestsellers with a basket in hand still came in brandishing her Gives Back card. Teenagers with giftcards burning holes in their pockets showed up to buy Vera Bradley bags before heading back to school this week. The professor from CSU who holes up in our rocking chairs stayed for her three hours on Sunday. Our fresh-from-the-gym omelet-eater said good morning to the entire staff, wolfed down his food at the Bistro, and headed back into the breach. And we've had our share of the browsers, the new faces, and the recurring characters coming in asking for a good read for these cold days.

Even though we've done in a day what we did in an hour just a week ago, we still had a great day because we still mattered to these people. To these shoppers, we're worth the risk. And to the customers who will wait for the plows and maybe a peek of sunshine, we promise to be ready and as grateful as we are to the ones who were crazy enough to come visit during the snowstorm.