|Espíritu Santo, 47 - Madrid|
Maybe, more bookstores should serve beer, Rioja, and tapas.
They could also maximize floor space for the ground-level, drink-serving operation by putting all the reading material in a darkened basement where customers would search for books with flashlights.
The stores could keep retail processes simple by charging the same price - a couple of bucks – no matter the age, size, or popularity of the book being sold. They could hold trivia contests and given away drinks and books as prizes.
This may not save all bookstores from the encroachment of e-books, rising costs, and on-line Amazonian competition, but I am sure it would make the final days of business more fun.
I base this on my experience a few years ago at J&J Coffee and Books, a bar/bookstore/coffee shop not far from the Plaza de España in Universidad District of central Madrid. The bar hosted the launch of my book “The Most Strategic, Integrated and Aligned Servant of the Public Don Quincy de la Mangement” in August 2011, an enjoyable and fitting venue to promote this parody of the classic of Spanish literature.
J&J, a unique watering hole and business, mixes drinks with the buying, selling and trading of English language books thus providing “anglos” and anglophiles a place to intermingle in the heart of the Spanish capital. The bar and ring of chairs and tables around it are on street-level; the books are kept in the windowless basement.
|Dave Cardillo - former Jedi Knight - and me|
The week of my book launch, enough water leaked from the creaking Madrid municipal infrastructure under Calle Espiritu Santo to cause electrical problems, put the basement lights out, and require all book browsers and customers to walk down the steps and scan the stacks of books with a flashlight from behind the bar in hand.
“So, far no one has said no or changed their mind about shopping because of the lights,” J&J manager Dave Cardillo told me the day I dropped off my books. “They seem to think it’s fun.”
|Directions to Darkened Basement|
I would have been happy to have had a low-key book launch at J&J during the middle of the week. But Dave and the regulars encouraged me to do it on a Saturday night so we could also have a few glasses of wine, a Don Quixote Trivia Contest, and some laughs.
We did, and here are a few photos as testimony to the wisdom of his advice.
|Book Launch Bunch|
As I said, I am indebted to him, but also to Jamie and Javi – the original bar-bookstore owners and the source of the two J's in the name. They were back in the U.S. right now as I wrote this. I hope they open some book stores on this side of the pond.