Sunday Salon: The Sales Pitch

 The Sunday

As my participation in the book-blogging world has expanded to include more industry-oriented blogs and newsletters, I’ve become aware of the concept of “handselling” books, in which booksellers talk up book recommendations to customers. In some respects, when we promote books on our blogs with our favorable reviews, I suppose we’re doing a form of it ourselves.

I am not a person who wants to be “sold” to – in fact, I’ll actively avoid salespeople whenever possible. If I’m looking for something specific, I probably already know what it is when I enter the store; and if I’m browsing randomly, I’d rather be left to do it on my own. Those stores that focus on their “personal, personalized service” are wasting their efforts on me; in fact, I find them a bit intimidating. I just want to look around, find what I want, pay for it and go.

This doesn’t mean I’m averse to more passive forms of selling. I’ll usually check out the staff-recommendations shelves, and I’ll read the shelf talkers for the books that interest me. But if you work in that bookstore and you try to engage me in conversation about any of those books, it may have the opposite effect of what you intended – I’ll feel pressured, rather than engaged. And if you put the book in my hands, I may slip it back on to the shelf when you’re not looking. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve quashed any interest I have in reading the book; I just prefer to make the decision for myself, in my own time, and not because I felt uncomfortable or afraid of being “difficult” by saying no.

When I’m shopping for most things for myself, I usually prefer doing it by myself, and that includes book-shopping. I’m pretty well-informed about what’s available and reasonably comfortable making my own decisions about what to buy; approachable, eye-catching displays are all you really need to “sell” me. But I realize this quirk of mine may just be mine: how do you feel about being on the receiving end of the handsell?

It’s been a rather light week for both reading and posting, but I do have a few links and updates to share…

  • LibraryThing users: Have you tried out the LibraryThing Companion extension for the Chrome browser? (I’ve switched from Firefox to Chrome for almost everything I do on my MacBook.) I really like it; it’s a super-quick way to add books, access or edit your library and profile, and get into the forums. It’s pretty much everything I wish LT’s mobile app was…

As you may recall from last Sunday’s Salon post and other mentions around the book-blogiverse during the past week, the Indie Lit Awards are already getting ready for their next round! I’ll be on the new Biography/Memoir panel; I’m excited about that, since that’s my favorite non-fiction genre. I have a few books in my “currently reading” collection right now that would be eligible for ILA nominations in 2011:

A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates

…but panel members are not permitted to nominate books, so we’ll need your help! The nomination period will be open from September 1 to December 31. As you read new books (2011 publication date) in any ILA genres – and Biography/Memoir in particular – take special note of the ones you’d like to see considered for the awards, and when the time comes, be sure to bring them to the panels’ attention! By the way, ILA founder Wallace of Unputdownables has put together an excellent FAQ (&A) about the 2011 Awards.

Currently reading:
The Uncoupling, by Meg Wolitzer (TLC Book Tour, April 6)
What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters, by Phillip Yancey (April Faith ‘n’ Fiction Roundtable selection)

– After a month of mostly “free” reading, I think April’s focus will be heavily on review books, including the three memoirs I mentioned earlier in this post (all in ARC form, and tagged as “currently reading” anyway – it would be nice if that were true!), except on April 9 – Readathon Day is all about the “just-for-me” reading!

What are you currently reading – and how do you feel about being “sold” on it?

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