North by Northwest Bookstore–Kickstarting!

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A few weeks ago, I teased in my business blog that we would be doing a Kickstarter for our brick-and-mortar bookstore, North by Northwest Books, here on the Oregon Coast. We’ve been planning the Kickstarter since we bought the bookstore in August.

The store, which Sheldon McArthur started 12 years ago, had fallen into disrepair. Shelly had sold the bookstore to his store manager, who somehow believed that running a bookstore meant unlocking the door and sitting inside it. She knew better; that was not at all how Shelly ran the store. Yet, she figured she’d try what she had seen other bookstores do years ago, and she hoped it would work.

It hadn’t worked in the distant past, and it certainly doesn’t work now. Shelly had built a mailing list, lots of goodwill, dating from his days in Los Angeles, as the owner of the Mystery Bookstore. Then he retired to Lincoln City, got bored, and started a new bookstore. Years later, he tried retiring again. Only it didn’t quite work because about a year after he sold the store, he had to reclaim it.

We found out about the problems just as Shelly took the store back over. We bought the store from him, and asked him to help us rebuild. Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of rebuilding to do, because Shelly’s name is magic all by itself. Once longtime customers found out he was associated with the store again, they all returned. He’s still in the store at least once a week, and will be a fixture at the store as long as he wants to work there.

Dean and I are so excited to own this bookstore. Dean has owned bookstores in the past. I’ve worked in them off and on for years. We also own two other retail stores (and will probably open another. Shhhh), so we know our way around managing brick-and-mortar businesses in the digital age.

The bookstore we got in August wasn’t the bookstore it had been a few years before. It had become rundown, and the back rooms were a mess. We spent months cleaning and reorganizing. (When I say “we,” I mean the royal we here, because I couldn’t even enter the store for a while. The old manager had used scented oils at the front desk, and we had to clean those out because they’re not good for books or for my fragrance allergies.) We discovered, in the course, of all that work, sections of the store that have never seen the light of day.

As you can see from the photo above, the store is in an old building, which was once a cabin. Parts of the building were blocked off. Dean found two rooms we hadn’t even realized were there.

We were only going to clean out the back room, then set it up to help us bring indie books into the store. We have a plan to curate the best indie books we can find for our customers, both online and in the store itself. We need that back room to be in perfect shape to get this plan underway.

That’s why we decided on Kickstarter. We could do the repairs slowly, over time, or we could try to fund the repairs as quickly as possible. If we hit our goal, we have enough to get the back room fixed up (enough). If we hit the stretch goals, we’ll move to more rooms, some other repairs, hiring another employee, and doing even more for paper books.

Of course, we’re not abandoning ebooks either. As we’ve said from the beginning of this revolution in publishing, we believe in all book formats, and we’re putting our money where our mouth is.

The rewards for backers reflect our vision. We have an ebook reward as well as paper book rewards. We also have some nifty gifts you can donate to your local library or school. We have rewards for writers, readers, and collectors.

Even if you can’t throw in a few bucks for the Kickstarter right now, watch the video. Gwyneth Gibby of WMG Publishing and I put this together. I wrote and narrated the script, throwing in a few of the images, but the rest is Gwyneth. And give her some of your sympathy. I think she heard the recorded version of me say “Doooooooooooooomed” at least 300,000 times over the past two weeks.

One other cool thing: Every order we ship from the Kickstarter will include a bookmark. It will say, “North by Northwest Books: Give Bookmarks Something To Do.”

So, take a listen to the pitch, watch the video, and have some fun. We certainly did. (Except maybe Gwyneth, by the end of editing that video…)

Click here to go to the bookstore Kickstarter.

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