Bookselling, as a cultural and community-building practice, has been around a long time. Even hubs where people gathered around books, absorbed in their presence and engaged with other readers, is nothing new. The Alexandrian Library, founded in 300 BC in Egypt, encouraged the procurement of books, both from sellers and consumers alike. And by the end of the Republic in Rome, it was hip to have a library as part of your home. Various religious movements also created an increase in both the publication and the consumption of content, which expanded greatly upon the introduction of the printing press around 1400.
Today, despite technological changes, the physical book perseveres, lead by readers, publishers, and yes, booksellers. 800-CEO-READ has been a part of the physical bookselling tradition for almost 30 years. Originally, the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, our parent company which opened its doors nearly 85 years ago and unfortunately closed in 2009, hired Jack Covert to focus on technical and business books in one of its shops. Not long after, Jack discovered the uniqueness of business books; the purpose they serve, and their audience of readers.
And that is still our focus: Business books and great ideas. We help connect people and ideas to help them work better, to solve problems, and to help them become leaders in whatever it is they do. Both companies and authors play a big role in this process of improvement. Companies want their employees to have tools to help them improve, to help them compete, to help them lead. Authors spend time researching, thinking, and writing ideas and strategies down to help the curious and ambitious accomplish those things. And for a long time, 800-CEO-READ has helped make sure that the relationships between authors and companies are bound with books.
The value of books to companies is clear – their people become empowered with knowledge, and their skills strengthened. The value of books to authors is more complex: ideally, they visibly see their idea planted in the hands of people who can turn those ideas into action; practically, their sales get reported, and the success of one book can lead to more book offers, more opportunities; holistically, profound change takes place in the world of business, all because of their ideas.
It is incredibly humbling and exciting to work within this hub; this juncture of ideas, readers, authors, publishers, and books. But of course now, books are also changing, and so the selling of them has also changed. We specialize in getting 25, 200, or even 2000 books to various conferences for attendees to receive as a souvenir, to have signed by the author after their talk, and to be placed on a bookshelf among other books in offices so that conversation can start when anyone enters the room. Just like BC-era Rome’s home libraries, people like to show what they know to people they live and work with. It’s human nature. And for that reason (among many others) it is doubtful physical books will cease to exist. But in addition to this, people like to digest information quickly. They like convenience and accessibility to content whether they’re in their smoking jackets in their recliners, on the bus heading across town, or a plane flying across the world. Digital reading has become a part of our lives. ‘Old’ books are here, but so are ‘new’ books.
As we head into 2013, 800-CEO-READ will work harder than ever to be the best bookseller we can. To continue to connect you with ideas, in ways that you, and sometimes even us, haven’t imagined before. We’ll continue to move boxes and pallets of physical books around the world, but we’ll season that with things like KnowledgeBlocks (new launch in January), ChangeThis, our LeaveSmarter speaking series, Author Pow Wow, eBooks and other digital products. The bottom line will always be to provide our customers–the readers, authors, publishers, and companies that we work with–with the best service possible. Real people, offering real help. Stay posted for the exciting changes that are coming, and always let us know your thoughts and questions. We’re here for you.
Thanks from all of us at 800-CEO-READ, and Best Wishes for the New Year!
“The true profit in bookselling is the social profit; the bottom line, [is] the measure of the impact of the bookshop on the community.” – David Schwartz