Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book consignment deals from a San Francisco independent bookstore's point-of-view.

Allow me to preface this anecdote by stating I actually bought a book from the San Francisco CA independent bookstore (name will go unmentioned, but it's located in the SOMA--south of Market--area) which will be discussed below.  In other words, no hard feelings on my part (particularly since I was able to place copies of HOLLYWOOD POETRY: 2001-2013 and the print version of POEMS BELOW THE LINE in other stores in San Francisco/Berkeley, plus donating copies for resale at the SF Public Library's main branch near City Hall).

A poet enters an independent bookstore.

He asks if the store does consignment deals.

The male employee on the ground floor asks about the genre.

Poetry, the poet says.

Male ground floor employee directs poet to go downstairs.

Downstairs, there is a poetry section as well as arts/entertainment/film books for sale.

Poet goes to downstairs employee behind counter in a work area.

Could you take this book on consignment, asks the poet.

Downstairs employee does a fast flip through poet's book.

Then downstairs employee says something like this:
Why don't you check out City Lights?  They might take this.

[Background: City Lights, located in North Beach, is an overall well-regarded long-running progressive bookstore, still blessed with the presence emeritus of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  In past years, the store would take self-published chapbooks or non-elite small press volumes by area poets.  This week, though, I notice that the nook under the staircase to the upstairs poetry section is filled with saddle-stitched zines.]

I answer something like this:
It seems like City Lights has gradually stopped selling [these kinds of] poetry books over the years.

The downstairs employee, with no visible heightening of emotion, says something like this:
We don't take consignment books anymore because of those times when authors don't come to pick them up [when the store can't sell them and time is up under terms of the deal.]
And also, people may not know who the author is. [looks at poet]  No offense.

So, I politely thanked him for answering my questions, found a book to purchase and went upstairs to pay the male employee on the ground floor.

End of Anecdote (which may or may not have resonance for poets reading this blog post).

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