As an analog girl in a digital world (tm Erykah Badu), or, more appropriately, a brick-and-mortar-bookstore girl in an e-commerce world – as I’m sure many Rioters can attest to – I love nothing more than a funky bookstore to whet my appetite and tease me into buying waaaaaaay more books than I should. (Because I wasn’t on the lookout for new books anyway, just perusing; and because I have a very strict list of books I need to purchase before any others, which I’ve been adding to for ages and have crossed off maybe two; and because there’s a sad stack at home waiting for their day to be thoroughly devoured and will be unhappy with me if I continue to ignore them so rudely.)
I’m not anywhere near Perth, Australia, but when I saw pictures of this awesome looking, just-a-year-old bookstore, Kaleido Books and Gifts – making a go of it with no marketing budget and very creative signage – it made me want to drop in and check things out. Few reasons why:
“What attracts people better than a fun joke?” Challenges Kaleido assistant manager Adam Peter Scott (also a stand-up comedian on the side, if you’re in the area). Scott is the one who does all the cool signs to attract passerby into the store, following a fairly simple, arts & craftsy strategy: “We decided very early on when setting up the bookstore to install blackboards as department headers, because we could change them at any time, combine and separate categories and come up with amusing names for them.”
Like Recipe for Disaster (cookbooks), Fresh Produce for new releases, Fifty Shades of Facts for the “themed” (stimulating/adult) section, or Mixtape, Anthologies of Short Stories, Non-Fiction and Poetry.
Signs like these.”It definitely helps with getting people in the door,” Scott confirms, “And then once they see all the fun department names, they tend to stick around for a while.” And, presumably, BUY. (See my rant above.) Also, the bookstore is located next to a train station! That’s the stuff of bookstore wet dreams, seriously. And, logically, with commuters and travelers rushing by at all times, Scott knows that “Sometimes the only way to break through people’s blinders is with a funny or amusing sign.” Might I suggest perhaps something lightly skewering Anna Karenina?
Um, Lloyd Dobler. ‘Nuff said.
“The only way,” Scott acknowledges, “To separate yourself from online competition or corporate competition is to have a unique and interesting selection, along with a friendly well-informed staff.” So the store, in addition to the signs and a great Facebook page, makes personal recommendations for their customers. Like any good little bookstore should. Their most-recommended? Horns, by Joe Hill; Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis; Ken Grimwood’s Replay; Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything; Stephen King’s On Writing; and Mary Roach’s entire repertoire.
Kaleido is a bookstore that loves you as much as you love them, like an online dating site that works. “Remember,” Scott advises, “That you’re not selling your customers books, you’re introducing them to new friends. Don’t force it, let them get to know each other.”
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