Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Turning a page: BookStream to Bookstore

Aren't we lucky, us book people, to have such a good built-in metaphor for change? The act of reading involves this moment of physical action where to move the story forward you have to cover up and leave behind what came before. It's not a renunciation or a rejection -- just a way to get to the next chapter.

Yes, I'm leaving BookStream, after all too short a stay on that particular page. I'm sending out the announcement today, and I'll be finished at the end of this month.

I wasn't expecting to win the Power Up! competition, nor all of the new opportunities that would come with it. But win I did, and come they did, and now I have to pursue and follow up on these opportunities or risk missing my chance to do the one thing that's been my goal all along: open an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. And I just can't do that in the free time I have now. Something's gotta give.

As I described it to the ALP, I feel like I've been expanding and expanding the things I've been doing, to get all of the experience and meet all of the people and gather all of the knowledge I could. And it's been wonderful. But now it's the time to bring it in, and start to focus on one thing.

I've still got a couple of projects I'll be wrapping up and passing along at BookStream: there's a new KidSplash event coming up, and another TitleWave this fall, and a very cool new website that should launch in the next couple of weeks. I'm grateful to have been able to put some things in motion that I hope will continue.

And I have every confidence that BookStream will continue to do what it does well. Providing added value to booksellers, through good relationships with its staff. Transforming the role of the wholesaler into something more: an intermediary between authors, publishers, booksellers, and book buyers.

They'll need someone to do what I've been doing, and more. A passionate book person, a writer, an organizer, a creator, someone in touch with what's happening in the book industry; but also someone who's able to do a bit more traveling, to engage more with booksellers and publishers, to work the customer service angle as well as the marketing angle. It'll be a dream job (and as usual, I half regret not being able to do it all). Jack and Carolyn and Ken and Lily and Felice and Carol and everyone else at BookStream are awesome coworkers, and they know how to make a job worthwhile. I bet somebody with the right kind of passion jumps at the chance.

And in a few months, or a few years, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise," as my mom used to say...

I'll be opening my bookstore, and placing my opening book orders with BookStream, and putting them first in the cascade. (If you're a bookseller who uses electronic ordering, you know what that means.)

As when reading a great book, it's tough to leave the good parts behind. But I'm awfully excited about the next chapter.