Wednesday, May 15, 2013

As many of you already know, come the end of July, Spine and Crown will be calling it quits. This is sad news in many respects. I don’t think there’s another shop in Seattle that fills our precise niche, so that’s some kind of loss. I DO sift through a lot of crap so you won’t have to... but there will soon be an app that chooses books 78.93% as well as I do, so there’s that to look forward to.

Snark aside, I feel privileged to have promoted pretty much what I alone thought was good for nearly 8 years - and to have found enough customers to support (very modestly) my doing so. Most people don't do what they do because they want to - they do it for money. I have been lucky enough to earn a living that rare other way, and I owe thanks to everyone who made it possible. My poor memory (and my desire to remain concise) won't allow a list, but I would like to single out the Wall of Sound crew (Michael Ohlenroth and Jeffery Taylor) for extra thanks. If they hadn't taken me in a couple of years ago, I would have been writing this in 2011. The last two years have been more fun than the previous six combined.

Why not soldier on? Our building is being torn down. That's part of it. Not much money was another part. Hard to save for the kid's college fund if you're only breaking even every month. Kindle? Sure. College kids downloading books as PDFs? Yep, it's starting to make a dent.

Mostly, it just seemed like time for a change (and maybe a little bit like the universe was pushing me out the door). So I applied to MFA programs all last fall and was admitted to Syracuse - a storied and honored program (with great funding, to boot). Soon, I'll be teaching and writing full-time, not selling the writings of others. I'm pretty good with that.

A small shop, though, when it's run right, will build a little community. It would not be going too far to call it a family. I will certainly miss the family I leave behind. I'm astonished at the ebb and flow of it, how some people join and stick and how others leave, sometimes to come back, sometimes not. A key strategy in business today is to figure out how to force these kinds of organic processes to happen - in essence, to fake sincerity. I never tried to force anything... I was always happy to just be astonished.

This approach to business is probably why I haven't been much of a financial success. Luckily, my replacements - the property developers (with their 50 year max-lifespan plywood crapboxes), the Subway sandwich shop owners (with their tried-and-true meat to lettuce ratio), and the inevitable Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks - will not suffer from my impediments. We will all be safe in the hands of their market strategists, who, I am assured, have our best interests at heart.

With regard to the shop, what happens next? Well, if you have trade credit or a gift certificate, you should use it soon. Anyone with books on consignment is welcome to retrieve them at any point and settle accounts.

Also, I still have some events planned. The most important one is a fundraiser for my move across the country. There will be a magician, poetry, accordion interludes, a live band, a sword-swallower, and a fire-breathing dragon. Still in negotiations with the dragon and sword-swallower, who knows, could all fall through, don't count your chickens, etc., etc. The fundraiser should happen mid-June. Maybe the 14th, maybe the 21st. I'll keep you posted.

Until then, buy some damn books! If you dig what we've got, our selection has never been better. There WILL be an inevitable fire-sale for all the vultures, but don't count on the discounts going too deep - we're still going to sell online - and Powell's offers a hell of a deal for trade credit - so most leftover stock will be going out thataway.

 I never intended to run a shop for everyone. There’s enough retail in the world trying pathetically to be everything to everyone. I wanted a little treasure box that would delight those prepared to be delighted. I didn’t know if you’d find it, but you did.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


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