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Rebel Bookseller: How to Improvise Your Own Indie Store and Beat Back the Chains

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0975276341
ISBN-10: 0975276344
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Laties is a bitter, bitter man. He rails endlessly against book superstores and skewers publishers for allowing the giant retailers to dictate the new tenets of big book business, but, as he writes in his introduction, he's "accused no one of illegal activity." For 20 years, he's owned and operated independent children's bookstores in Chicago, and, in this book, shares much of what he's learned so, as the subtitle suggests, indie booksellers can not only survive, but, perhaps, thrive. However, he admits, much of his experience is irrelevant: "I can tell anecdotes about what we did. Unfortunately, none of those approaches will work again, because they've been ripped off by chain stores. You'll have to do something completely new." What he focuses on (and often distills into acronyms) are sound principles that apply to nearly any business: ADA (adapt, don't adopt), SMOWS (sell more of what's selling), the perennially obvious BLSH (buy low, sell high) and, naturally, be creative. The book alternates chapters between educational anecdotes and vitriolic rants, and though both are easy reading, the rants are where most of the fun (and dirt and tough-love business advice) is. Entertaining and heavy with Laties' experiences, his from-the-trenches account is a must-read for anyone considering opening an indie book shop.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Andrew Laties founded Children’s Bookstore, Children’s Bookfair, Children’s Museum Store,, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Bookshop and won the Women’s National Book Association’s award. He wrote Showcasing Your Store, created The Art of Selling Children’s Books, the training film, and for ten years taught bookselling for the ABA. He lives in Amherst, MA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vox Pop (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0975276344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0975276341
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,457,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am the author of the 2006 Independent Publisher Award winning title "Rebel Bookseller: How To Improvise Your Own Indie Store And Beat Back The Chains." I co-founded the Vox Pop Cafe in Brooklyn, with Sander Hicks (who was previously the founder of Soft Skull Press). Vox Pop then published my book (as well as several other books). I like to tell people that I'm the only author who had to open a bookstore and a publishing company just to get his book published. (My book attacks Barnes & Noble, and was therefore unpublishable.)

Now Rebel Bookseller is being republished in a revised and expanded edition by Seven Stories Press, subtitled Why Indie Businesses Stand for Everything Your Want to Fight For, from Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities.

I run the bookshop at Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Parents Magazine called us "the very best bookstore for picture books in the entire world." I also lead a free-jazz/experimental troupe called Urchestra that specializes in performing the poetry of Kurt Schwitters.

I just finished a master's degree at the School of Community Economic Development, in New Hampshire, and I'd say that Community Economic Development is what I stand for. So: grassroots activism, people first, decentralization, and questioning authority.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By L. Reisz on October 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
More than a simple expose of the rather murky and misunderstood book world, Laties "Rebel Bookseller" is a call to arms for all future independent bookstore owners. While his tone is acerbic at times, his information and insights are top-notch. They should be after the over 20 years of independent bookselling he's done. Laties explains why books are so expensive and why superstores are to blame. Still, his message is a hopeful one. He sees the importance of independent bookselling for all aspects of the industry as independent bookstores are a breeding ground for independent thinking and independent writing and most important of all, independent reading. This book is a must-read for all booksellers, all bookstore owners, and all who hope to join that weird and wonderful world.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nicole on February 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you are planning on opening a bookstore and know nothing about the book trade, this book might not be as entertaining. If you have worked in the trade before, however, this book is both a quick, entertaining read and a wealth of information in the form of anecdotes and handy tidbits toward going it on your own. It won't give you a step-by-step guide to starting a bookstore, but then again if you wanted that you probably wouldn't be reading a book called "Rebel Bookseller." Laties' claims that he did everything first and the chains stole all the good ideas from him are a little wearing at times; then again, I can appreciate arrogance if it's justified and judging by his level of success both with bookstores and his book, obviously the guy knows what he's doing, so listen to him. Written passionately and optimistically, if nothing else this book will bolster your faith in indie bookstores and get you ready to do it yourself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very enlightening book about the bookselling industry and the giant chain stores. This is a must read for indie store owners, not just booksellers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joe Waynick VINE VOICE on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking for an unabashed peek behind the curtain of big time bookselling politics, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this romp down memory lane.

The author exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly about the inner workings of the bookselling industry as seen through the eyes of a successful independent bookstore owner. When someone who's operated a single store for multiple years that grossed nearly $1 million dollars a year begins to talk, he's worth listening to.

This is not a "how to" book on bookselling. Nevertheless, you'll get some excellent ideas just by reading between the lines. I was especially impressed with the reprinted "Showcasing Your Store" articles that contained detailed descriptions of the author's community involvement programs used to attract customers.

Because of this book, I no longer view my business as an "independent bookstore." Rather, I now see it as a community center with a rich assortment of events and activities that happens to be funded by an independent bookstore. That's a lot more fun.

Joe Waynick, Author
"Internet Bookselling Made Easy!" series
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lastufka on February 11, 2009
Format: Paperback'll still enjoy this book. Laties discusses the numerous bookstores he's run or co-run, and I found the inner workings of the book business to be extremely interesting. The tips and techniques explored in Rebel Bookseller could carry over into any industry really, but it's exciting to hear how some were developed and implemented by Laties, and the successes or failures they produced. I highly recommend this title.
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