Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year 2010 in Review, Bookstore Style

Well, we've been a bit remiss about the blog lately. But the reason is a good one: we've been so fantastically busy with the holiday season that there really hasn't been a dull moment in which to blog. I thought this would be a good time to take a look back on how the store has changed in the last year. You know how fast a year can go by, so that it's hard to really encapsulate everything that's happened to you? That's how I feel about the year at the store. We've tried so many new things and changed the store layout several times- you learn a lot the first year in a new location about the flow of the store and what people are looking for.
So, here are just some of the many highlights from Old Firehouse Books in 2010. We started two new book clubs, one for mysteries and one for nonfiction. They join our Open Book, Untitled, and science fiction book clubs. These clubs are always open to anyone who cares to come- you just have to read the book! (Hint, hint, for those who have resolved to meet new people/read more/ just generally enrich their lives in the new year.) I got to unleash my inner chef in several different food-related events at the store: we partnered twice with our wonderful neighbors, Happy Lucky's Teahouse, in a high tea and a tea and cookies event, worked with Equinox Brewery for our BBQ and Beer event, and with 10,00o Villages in an event centered around the book Hungry Planet. I hope to do more food events next year- they are lots of fun. In other event news, we got to host some incredible authors in the last year, including C.J. Box (one of the nicest guys EVER), Craig Johnson, Laura Resau (a Fort Collins treasure), Margaret Coel, the outstanding science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi, and the fabulous Connie Willis. I feel so fortunate to have met some of the best writers of our day. And that doesn't even include our partnership with the library to host signings by leading lights such as J.A. Jance, Pam Houston, and Jonathan Shors. In other writerly events, we sold books at the Northern Colorado Writers' conference last spring. We also worked with Fort Collins Reads to help bring Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, to Fort Collins in November. Working with Fort Collins Reads is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my job.
What else did we do? I got to hold several talkbacks at Openstage Theater plays, leading question and answers sessions for the cast after a production. I get to do this a couple of times next year as well. We hosted NANORIMO writers in November- a lovely bunch, if I do say so myself. And we held our 30th/10th/1st year anniversary party in June. In case that's confusing, its 30 years as a store/10 years with current ownership/1 year at our current location. And we said goodbye to some well-loved and much-missed staff members: Tegan, Bonner, Kara, Paxton. They are really irreplaceable, but we were also extremely fortunate in our crop of new employees: Tara, Keller, Nathan, Beth, Elizabeth, and Cam. And we have our veteran staffers Revati and Kelsey helping us maintain our high standards.
Physically, the store changed a lot this year. We moved the trade counter from the second room into the third room for easier access through the alley. We're also extremely happy that the alley construction, which took all summer, is now finished. We expect much traffic through our back door next summer. The biggest change has been the addition of our events space in the back of the store. I don't know how we managed without this space before. We've used it for everything from author events to art shows in the last year. Just last month we changed how our front desk is oriented in the store, and are still getting compliments about that change.
My goals for the last year were to increase the caliber and quantity of our events, which we've done, and do a thorough inventory of the store, which we've managed. In the following year, my goals for the store are to streamline our book returns process (books can only stay on the shelf without selling for so long), and to take another look at our credit policy. Plus I'm always brainstorming about moving sections around so they make more sense.
It's now hard to remember what it was like back at our old location on South College. We essentially started over again when we moved the store- everything is so different downtown. But we love where we are, and wouldn't change it. We've had a steep learning curve, and we couldn't have done it without the support of our customers, who have been patient when books were moved from where they expected and gracious with all the foibles that running an indie book store can bring. Fort Collins truly has an amazing base of people who are willing to support local businesses, even when the strictly pocketbook thing to do is shop at the big places or online. We do our best to make our store valuable to the community, with great book recommendations, awesome events, and partnerships with community organizations. But our customers are our greatest treasure. I hope you had fun picking out books at the store in 2010 and that we'll see you some more in 2011. We plan to be here for many years to come, and you make it all possible.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tips for Last Minute Shoppers

The count-down is reaching it's end. Without warning your twelve days of Christmas have suddenly become six, and we aren't open on Christmas day so it's really more like five. By now the panic has set in. Have you even started your Christmas shopping yet? You have an entire extended family to provide for and YOU HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED YET?!? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOURSELF?!? Okay, now that we've panicked, let's go through a few tips to get us through the last minute rush of holiday shopping.

Tip #1- STOP PANICKING! SERIOUSLY! CUT IT OUT! Okay, done? Good. Take a deep breath. And another. One more. Don't forget to exhale! Have you exhaled? Okay. Now just continue this pattern because no one can buy presents if they've fainted.

Tip #2- Go to the bookstore. Old Firehouse Books is best (hint hint.) If there is one place where you can buy everyone on your list a meaningful present, it's here. You could go to some stupid chain and buy everyone some garbage for them to stick in their closet and forget, but I wouldn't recommend it. We have an amazing variety that can provide for both Grandma and Junior in a way that will expand their minds or provide some hearty entertainment. Remember: no one's life was ever changed by a scented candle.

Tip #3- Once you get here, DON'T PANIC. I know there's a lot of books, but we are here to help you. The biggest difference between us and Amazon is that we are living human beings who also know the importance of breathing. We can work with your budget, since we provide a wide selection of used books, as well. We also have a broad knowledge of our inventory, so we can find the perfect book based on the interests and passions of your loved one.

Tip #4- If you're a little shy, or the bookstore is packed with other last-minute shoppers upon your arrival, there are other options. For example, located just across from the biography section are our Staff Pick Shelves. These two cases are filled with books that we have read and loved. If you're shopping for someone who reads a lot, I'd suggest finding a shelf that has a book or author that you know they've enjoyed. From there you just have to take a look at the seven other books available on that shelf and trust that their similar tastes will do the rest.

Tip #5- Maybe you're shopping with a plan. If this is the case, I wonder why an organized person such as yourself has waited until the final five days to do your shopping. I'll just assume the best and imagine that you were in Antarctica for the past two months. If this is you, call ahead! We can be reached at 970-484-7898 and over the phone we can find your books for you and put them in a nice little bundle behind the front counter. This way you can waltz right up to the counter and be assured that all your book choices are there.

Tip #6- GET MOVING! We're open 9am-8pm today (Monday) through Thursday. On Friday (Christmas Eve) we'll be open 9am-5pm, but this day is reserved for the kings and queens of true procrastination. The sooner you get in the better, though, because with every passing hour we lose more awesome books to people less lazy than you.

Tip #7-On second thought, if there's one thing school has taught me, it's that only good things come from procrastination. You're already online, so just enjoy the following booky article and relax. We'll see you eventually! I mean, really, there's another five whole days left!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google EBooks are here!

We're very excited to be able to announce that Old Firehouse Books is now able to sell you ebooks! Google EBooks has just rolled out their new platform, and is allowing independent bookstores to take part in sales. The process is incredibly easy. You can look for books on our website just like always. Just hit the tab for "Google Ebooks" and you'll be looking for titles offered in that format. These e-books can be read on any e-reader but Kindle and also can be read on I-Pads, Androids, and other smart phones. I just downloaded one to my Samsung phone. To buy e-books on the I-Pad, download a free app from the Apple Store. Android Market also has a free app to facilitate downloads.
Questions? Give us a call or an email! Now you can order e-books from your favorite indie store in time for Christmas!