Monday, June 4, 2018

My Day: The House Next Door Burned Down & I Started My New Job as Book Lady

I'm tired! My day started at 4 a.m., when I was woken by the sound of breaking glass and earth-shaking pounding:
fire-fighters were breaking windows and bashing in doors RIGHT NEXT DOOR:
the neighboring apartment house was on fire.
Flames were shooting through the roof!
Luckily it was entirely empty of people and animals (it's for sale--no one's living there).

I went outside and the smoke smelled horribly toxic.

(Ugh, the memory of it is still in my nose--or maybe some scent molecules are still clinging to the fine hairs in there.)

Marz had had a big event yesterday and had crashed on my couch --great timing as I could then go with her to her new place a mile away and sleep the rest of the night there.

The house that burned was the site of a murder four summers ago (the sad but almost predictable result of the perfect storm of meth-addict renters + the easy availability of guns).
Watching the flames, I felt weirdly glad that the house was getting destroyed, as it always felt haunted to me.

Penny Cooper, the sensible doll, rolls her eyes at this kind of thinking. She's right, of course--it was a bad combo of social factors that made the house sketchy. 
Nonetheless, I won't be sorry to see its shell torn down.

Then I went to my first day as the Media Specialist at SVDP, aka The Book Lady at the Thrift Store.

I worked all day (10:30--6) weeding out damaged books or ones that have been for sale a long time, and alphabetizing and displaying the ones that are staying---placing at least a couple books face-out on each shelf, for more inviting and colorful and readable "visual merchandising".
bink dropped by and ended up helping me for a couple hours too--so neat! She pulled the book that had been on the shelf the longest--since 2012. (Shelving dates are written in pencil on the flyleaf.) If it hasn't sold in six years, I feel confident I can chuck it.
The former Book Lady was not big on weeding the shelves, but she was big into sorting books by size (?), so she had alphabetized fiction books by author in four separate groupings:
regular and larger hardbacks, mass-market-size paperbacks, and the larger trade paperbacks. If you were looking for a certain author, you'd have to check all four places. 
bink suggested I arrange the fiction books Library Style instead:
it doesn't matter what size or format they are, they all get alphabetized together. 
Of course it flows so much better, and is visually more interesting too, than facing a wall of all-one-sized book.

I am going to invite more friends---extra hands and brains really HELP.

It was tiring (my arms will be sore tomorrow, I bet)--- but soooo fun--I really loved it. I'm one of those people who puts books in order when I'm shopping at bookstores. (Is there a name for this?) 

I worked in libraries for years. And while these days I'm more interested in toys and sewing ephemera, etc., I do love books, and I know them well.

Best of all, many customers chatted with me and several regulars commented how nice the area will look nice when it's all spruced up, and how they're looking forward to new books coming out.

I'll be working more than my scheduled 20 hours this week, as I work overtime (well, unpaid) to get the book area is shape.

It's not too bad---especially for a thrift store---but there's a lot, a lot to be done to make it nice, and to flow better too. 

My poor boss wants to trust me, and I believe he DOES trust me,
but he said he was a little freaked because he's used to cramming in as much merchandise as possible, and this more open look, with books facing out, looks like "wasted" space.

When I got home I found an article online to send him about how bookstores like Barnes & Noble face their books out because they know they SELL more. And I saw several articles by librarians about how they're taking a leaf from B&N's book now too, which I've noticed my library does.

I just know as a shopper and browser, I prefer to look at books facing out, and it definitely encourages me to pick books up.

Tomorrow I am going to take my camera so I can photograph my work---I wish I'd thought to bring it today so I could have done a Before & After. Still... it's only half done---lots to record yet.


deanna said...

Whoa! What a night and day! I'm glad the fire was well contained. Very scary.

Also glad you are making a difference at the thrift store book section! It sounds much more inviting, and I've seen examples of the usual thrift "organization." I hope your boss sees the benefit of your researched creativity.

I heard from my book store boss, and I'll be back there two days a week, starting the 12th. The news made me dance around - love that place!

Anonymous said...

Waking up to a fire sounds very scary especially in the middle of the night. I, myself, would not want to move into a house where a murder had taken place.

The Book Lady job sounds very fun. But I can imagine trying to corral all of the books into more usable categories will be interesting. My library also places books face-out several shelves. It does catch your eye as opposed to only seeing spines.

The fun part would be selecting the face-out books. Interesting cover, title, author...... If you really wanted to have fun, the face out books would make a sentence. There is an artist who does that--check out the Sorted Books project: . She even did one at William S Burroughs house.

I'll put books back in numerical number in the library when I see them out of order, too. I think sometimes people place them in places so they can grab them instead of someone else.

Congrats on the Book Lady gig!


Frex said...

DEANNA: Hey, that's terrific!!! We will both be Book Ladies at the same time!!! Let's do a photo exchange of us at work, or our bookshelves, etc. etc.

I was so grateful for the fire dept., I thought I'd write them a thank-you note.
They went into the house wearing gas masks and full regalia, of course, but still.... if they hadn't contained the fire, it could have spread to our house and beyond...
Fire-fighting is one example of how some things in modern life really are waaay better than they were 100 years ago.

Yes, even though I know the place isn't cursed, I didn't like being reminded of the idea of the murder (which I partially saw--the ambulance guys carrying the guy out, still alive...).

Those book spines are a HOOT!!!
Thank you for that.
I liked some of the artist's other work too---like her Mended Spiderwebs series.

Choosing the titles to face out is fun & interesting. I don't know our clientele well enough to know what exactly will appeal to them so I went with what I think is recognizable:
Oprah Book Club selections,
books made into movies (from the Bourne Identity to Frankenstein)
some super-pop authors (James Patterson--we have a thousand of his books).

As I am out in the book area every day, I hope to get a sense of what people like.

Oh, also I set aside some by or about Minnesotans to make a special display.
All very fun indeed!

Glad to know I'm not alone in straightening shelves in public places... :)

Anonymous said...

You are having so much fun! I'm glad that it worked out. What would be cool if there would be some way to see if more books sell now.

If you run across any Frank Waters--I'll buy them. He wrote about the Southwest. My mother and he exchanged letters for a few years. She also designed a hide on one of his books. The estate people found the letters and put them aside for us.


Fresca said...

"Frank Waters"--I will add him to my list of authors & books to watch for.