Friday, November 14, 2008

It's All in the Display: Road Lessons from Basho

Greeting from Sandy, Utah!

I learned a valuable lesson on this tour at a very low "hard-knocks" cost. I spent the day Wednesday doing a string of courtesy calls at small independent NCIBA-member bookstores in northeast California and Reno, Nevada. A couple minutes after driving off from one of my stops, I heard a loud bang as though something heavy had fallen over in my trunk. I pulled over and checked my trunk: and all seemed well. It wasn't until I got to the next store 40 miles away and couldn't find my cardboard sample box that I realized what had happened. I had left it on the roof of the car at the last stop. It stayed there until I was out of town. Once I got up to highway speed, it flew off the car, hitting the trunk on its way to the ground.

Fortunately, there were only six copies total and some bookmarks and business cards left in the box: I was going to have to replenish it anyway. But how to carry books around for my remaining stops?

The only thing to do was dig out a wooden display case that was already set up for a future trade show. It holds five copies each of all eight of my titles and makes a very nice presentation. But I had never taken it in to a shop before. It's a bit weighty and there was no way to protect the books from the weather. At least it was a lovely day.

The response at my remaining four stops was fantastic. I sold ten copies outright at one store, and two others were checking ISBN numbers, saying they would put in an order with Partners West. One was the Barnes & Noble in Reno!

Presentation really is everything, and I will certainly keep doing this on my homeward stops. Who knows, I might start combing my hair too!

David Ash
Publisher, Basho Press

You can follow David's adventures at (search for "David Ash)