One of the more popular sections of our bookstore is Staff Recommendations.
Both regular local customers and one-time tourist shoppers seem to like and appreciate our book recommendations, either as a starting point for finding a book they would enjoy reading or as an opportunity to discover something that they would not ordinarily find by themselves.
Most of our staff recommendations fall into the category of general fiction, since this is our number one sales genre. Some of our recommendations are newly published; some have been on the recommended shelf for a number of years.
These latter books include: The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon; A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher; One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus; and, one of our bestsellers year after year, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Our recommendations, however, are not limited to or restricted by the titles in our Staff Recommendations section. Both Kris and I assist customers in selecting a good book to read all day long and in every genre. Sometimes, customers will tell us what they like to read and ask for a similar recommendation. Other times they want us to recommend something local or regional, something that isn't readily available where they live.
One of the advantages that a small bookstore has is that its inventory of books is very personal, each title selected by the owner, making each small, independent bookstore unique.
We're not a scaled-down version of the mega-stores that attempt to stock every book in print, with no selectivity or customer-directed guidance.
Rather, we are a small bookstore with a small but very interesting inventory of books on our shelves, some of which were even recommended to us by our customers. Virtually every day, at least one tourist will compliment us on that, often finding titles that he or she had not seen in other stores.
One of the great pleasures of browsing a bookstore is the possibility of finding something new and special. Internet search engines will only generate what you ask for, not what you didn't know existed.
It's not surprising that, according to industry statistics, 60 percent of books purchased at bookstores were not on the customers' shopping list when they came into the store - 60 percent were new and fresh discoveries by those customers.
When was the last time you discovered something new and exciting in the world of books. Maybe it's time to browse your local bookstore.
Joe Neri is the co-owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona. He can be contacted at (928) 282-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)