Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Lost Children of Academia

"The lost children of academia." It sounds like the tagline for a cheesy b-grade movie about spirits haunting a hundred-year-old campus building and picking off tenured faculty one by one.
But it's a reality I've slowed uncovered since first moving from the "trade" side of book retailing and into an academic/campus retail environment.

- From my article in Canadian Bookseller magazine Volume 4 - 2009

That's how my latest article in Canadian Bookseller magazine opens and is a subject that has been milling around in my head for several years now. In 2006 I was an "outsider" to the campus side of book retailing, and though I came with plenty of years of bookselling experience, I was to discover there's a whole new world of bookselling out there with regards to the campus experience.

And I don't just mean the backwards and twisted world of textbooks. That's a whole different ballgame and I'm not going to go there no lest I get all sidetracked and on my "this needs to be changed" soapbox.

Just focusing on the general books or "trade" book side of the business, it's still an interestingly different game, particularly since trade booksellers in campus stores have three main audiences to attempt to please: faculty, campus staff and students.

Talk about a broad spectrum.

Talk about huge challenges for the booksellers on campus.

But talk about opportunity.

My article looks at the differences, but more importantly, looks at the similarities between campus booksellers and other independent and chain bookstores out there and attempts to help campus booksellers recognize their strengths and benefit from networking opportunities and resources that exist for them.

If you don't already read Canadian Bookseller magazine and you're a bookseller, you should. The latest issue not only has this article I wrote, but plenty of great content geared specifically for booksellers and book nerds in Canada. Not that it wouldn't interest people outside our great country, but it is geared towards bookselling north of the 49th parallel.

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