Please tell us about Inklings Bookshop!
Inklings Bookshop is a community bookstore. We have employees who actually read the books they sell, no chain store or computer screen can compete with that.
As for our name, the Inklings were a writing group-slash-discussion club consisting of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Williams, G.K. Chesterton, and others. They liked hanging out at a pub called The Eagle and Child (fondly known as The Bird and Baby), in Oxford, and they wrote books, argued about things spiritual, imagined great things and generally had a good time being chums. We thoroughly enjoy all of the Inklings authors and wish that we could be in a writing group with them. Imagine that! Getting to be pals with the creators of Narnia and Hobbits! Plus, we like the association of the word INKLINGS with ideas, thoughts, hints and awareness.
How do you decide which books to stock in Inklings?
We always try to have the Bestselling books in the Pacific Northwest area in stock (The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association shares them weekly). On top of that all employees at Inklings are responsible to curate a section they like reading and/or are comfortable with and keep it both up to date and full with their personal favorites. Makes hand-selling books to customers fun because we truly know the books we are selling.
What are some of the best-selling books in your store?
This varies and changes quite a lot. Rob Philips is right here from Yakima so his mystery books always do well. Manga has recently taken off and so has Romance, but that has a lot to do with the previous question and us employees curating sections and hand-selling books. Our fiction section is large and historical fiction is a constant bestselling genre. Our bestsellers this week are Rob Phillip’s Cascade Predator and Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan.
What do you think are the key components of successful bookstore events? What can authors do to ensure their events go well?
Simply put, the authors are. Authors should never rely on the store alone to get a full and busy event. We can organize and advertise events plenty, but if the authors are not willing to advertise themselves and are not friendly to customers on the day the event won’t succeed and the book won’t sell. One customer could make all the difference, especially in a tight knit community like ours. Word, good or bad, spreads fast. I’ve been that customer that got a 2 word answer from an author before, what the author didn’t know at the time is that I work at a bookstore, run a bookstagram account, and a very successful blog. That one customer could have advertised that author’s book to 5,000 people. The quietest of events, where you only sell 1 to 5 books could mean a lot more than you think. Needless to say, we all wish the store was always packed with people when we do events, but you can never count on that. So what can authors do? Share the event with their own fans beforehand and be friendly on the day to customers. It really is as simple as that.
What do you wish authors knew about bookstores?
That our shelf space is limited, that if you are an independently published author through that huge website that shall not be mentioned we might not be able to carry your book (there are good alternatives), and that a signed bookplate goes a long way.
As much as we wish we could carry every book under the sun, we don’t have the space for it. But talk to us, send us a signed bookplate, say hi. We will always try to carry your book if you put in a request, especially if you are here in the Pacific Northwest!
Do you have any social media tips for writers?
Engage with your audience! Always respond, reshare, and show appreciation. A little goes a long way.
What are the best ways for readers to keep tabs on the happenings at your store?
Our Instagram and Facebook pages are updated daily and the best way to keep tabs on us.
Anne is originally from England and moved to the US after she got married in 2016.
At Inklings, Anne does Social Media, Events, and deals with everything gift-related. It has been 3 years since she started working there but the store has actually been in the Yakima Valley for the last 21 years.
Anne’s life revolves around books! These days she mostly read romance books and all of its sub-genres: contemporary, fantasy, paranormal… but she also really enjoy Young Adult fantasy and her reading addiction started with everything mystery and suspense. During her teen years the local library could not keep enough mystery books to keep her entertained.