Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Life of Books

An author has finally finished his manuscript, found an agent and has sold his novel to a publishing company. The book is run through the press and published. Often, the book is publicized.

Then what? What exactly is the process to get the book from the writer's computer and to you, the reader.

Every Friday, or early, early Saturday morning, depending on how the truck is running and how many books they need to deliver, we get a load of books. There are generally any where between 5,000 and 8,000 books. they are loaded off the truck and taken by palettes into our stockroom. they come in hard plastic totes that are piled almost to the ceiling.

The books are taken out of the totes and sorted by subject on to carts.

You know those little tags on the back of the book, on the top left corner? These little tags give us a lot of info, including the ISBN number (each book is given a number called the ISBN which is like DNA, It identifies each book individually and universally.) The person who sorts the books can tell on which shelf each book is supposed to go.

Release dates, nationwide, generally fall on Tuesday. There are strict release dates and release dates that are fairly open as to when those books can be set out. The books that have strict release dates can only be released on specific dates. Violation of that will result in a hefty fine. (The last Harry Potter book release carried a cool 1 million bucks fine for an early release. The totes containing those books were sealed and could not be unsealed until midnight of the release date.)

A hard cover book will go on the New Arrivals table, set on a table at the front of the store.

If the book is a great seller it ends up on our Bestseller section.

And, as in the case of the Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy, if the books are a literary sensation, they get the honor of having their own table directly in front of the door.

Eventually, interest in even the best of books begins to wane and at that point the book goes into what is called 'in section' shelves.

They stay there quite a while and then, after they seem to have lost their selling ability, they are often put on sale.

Eventually they are toted back up, dollied on to the truck and sent back to the warehouse. Once there, they are circulated among various stores and set up on carts that begin at $3, then $2 and then $1.

the books are given a decent amount of time to be sold before they are sent back to the warehouse.

But, alas, eventually, they end up like this:

I hate to think of any book being destroyed. It reminds me of Hitler's treatment of various books.

I love working with books. I love the entire process of maintaining a book store, of being in the know about certain authors and books. I love the behind-the-scenes doings of a bookstore.

I had hoped to accomplish three things in my life; to be a mother, to work with children and to work in a bookstore.

I accomplished all three.


  1. Hahahahahaha!! There's only a handful of us who know just how funny that is, Nana! Thanks for the early morning smile.

  2. Anytime....


  3. Awesome! I miss the times when I worked in a bookstore in Vancouver.


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