One of the most enjoyable aspects of the move was our secret preparation for Operation Book Drop. The Book Drop was a conceived as a publicity campaign by the extra creative guys at Super Top Secret, our marketing firm. The idea was to gather a lot of books, create eye catching and informative jackets for them, and covertly drop them throughout the City. This would not only draw attention to our relocation and our new web site, it would proclaim our love of books and reading in a fun way that would draw in the members of our community - not preach to them. Tony has a history of guerrilla art projects and I'm a born subversive, so we loved the idea.
The amazing artists at STS created seven jackets for the projects. Each jacket embodies ideas about books that we hold dear and firmly believe: books make you smarter, books are important to individuals and the cultures in which they live, books are entertaining and pleasing in very tangible ways, booksellers still have a meaningful role in this modern world, locally owned businesses make our communities better places to live.
The second part of the project's preparation was procuring the books themselves. We approached publishers we identified as producers of quality books that are nicely packaged and staffed with people who could think outside the box. Six of them partnered with us, donating nearly 900 books to the cause. They are Alognquin, Chronicle Books, FSG, Gibbs Smith, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, and W.W. Norton. All of them deserve kudos for believing in bricks and mortar bookstores and the people they serve -- and for backing up that belief with action.
At last we got to the real fun. Tony mapped a five mile radius around our new location in Trolley Square. Then he identified hot spots within the radius. Finally, he broke the area into zones and assigned teams of two to five people to each zone. After we closed on January 8th we had a wrapping party at the store. Eight people spent about 3 hours admiring the jackets and wrapping books. The night after we sorted the books, split into teams, and went off into the night to distribute the gift of reading to the community. It was a blast.
You can see the page on our new site devoted to the book drop here. It shows the jackets and lists the books. If you got a book, let us know. We'd love to hear what you think.
There's a song from the early 80's by Adrian Belew called Lone Rhinoceros. The first few lines of it have been running through my head today. I've sent the last of my crew here at the Main Street store to Trolley Square. So I'm rumbling through this old store entirely alone. I'm collecting bookends, old signage, display stands and -bizarrely - shelving books. All the while I'm singing, "I'm a lone rhinoceros. There ain't one hell of a lots of us..."
Of course Belew's melancholy song about an endangered species isn't true to our story. Ours is a story of evolution and survival. It's always been thus. Sam took over the store upon his return from World War II, when it was nearly bankrupt. When he moved the store from 200 S. to Main Street, it was because the landlord had other plans for the space. The catastrophic fire of 1972 caused another (temporary) move and a remodel of the Main Street store. The 80's and 90's brought changes to the book industry that had us computerizing the inventory system and selling our used/rare books on the Internet. Recent years have left us and many of our independent bookseller peers feeling a bit bruised. But of late, the news for us all is better and we're looking up. Now we evolve again.
It's exciting. I've always found change to be stimulating. The energy at the new store is envigorating. Our amazing staff and generous volunteers are working hard to put our plans into place. Each evening I lock up the Main Street store and drive to Trolley for a managers' recapitulation of the day and plans for the next one. What I see when I get there is always different and always exciting. As tired as I am when I arrive -- and I am tired! -- it's difficult to leave the store once I'm there.
But for now I'm a lone rhinoceros closing this world.
Moving began yesterday with crews of employees, volunteers, and movers packing up books on Main Street, and a crew of employees and volunteers setting up bookcases at Trolley Square. Here's a peek at the progress so far.
Book on carts waiting to be taken to Trolley Square.
We've already cleared out a large portion of the main floor!
View from the top of the stairs at trolley.
From the landing at Trolley. Just a few more bookcases to go!
We still need volunteers! Join us in our move by calling 801-328-2588 and talking to Jason.
While cleaning the office here at Sam Weller's Books in preparation for our move to Trolley Square we found a Polaroid camera and some film (best used by March 2004).
I love Polaroids. Birthday money supplemented with chore money bought my first camera, a Polaroid. It looked almost exactly like this one, except that it was a sporty red color. So I was immediately excited to start snapping photos.
Of course with film that expired seven years and nine months ago, there was no telling how they would turn out. They turned out interesting.
Catherine is channeling the moving stress of all the staff.
Tony and Joan are preparing the Rare Book Room.
Getting things done.
Frank staffing the side counter.
Hollis is holding down the fort in the office.
Jason is organizing the volunteer schedule.
If you would like to volunteer, contact him at the store.
We recently received a shipment of awesome at the bookstore. Limited edition Star Wars moleskine journals. As you can see, they come in both Republic and Empire designs, or Light Side and Dark Side of the Force, if you will.
We also received some limited edition Pac-man moleskine planners.