Books and Wine: Partners Working for the Rebirth of Independent Bookstores

A guest post by Carol Hoenig, via Kristin Clifford, Partner and Director of MC Satellite.

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Carol Hoenig (left) and Peggy Zieran (right).

My good friend and business partner, Peggy Zieran, who had been a General Manager for a Long Island Borders store, and I, have been talking for quite some time about wanting to open an independent bookstore of our own. However, we thought it was nothing more than a foolish dream since we saw the writing on the wall when it came to bookstores’ survival rates.

But then, as I mentioned in my Huffington Post blog, Who Tries to Open a Bookstore in this Day and Age?, we started reading about how independent bookstores were making a comeback, which brought the idea to the forefront again.

OLFCover_OLF_final-smI had just gotten off a small book tour for my novel Of Little Faith and here’s the thing: I had events at a movie theater, a hotel, an art gallery in Manhattan, and one on Long Island. Notice anything? I didn’t have one event at a bookstore. I didn’t even try since I knew how difficult it was to get attention for an author who isn’t with one of the big houses. Besides, I didn’t want to go through the frustration of convincing anyone that I could bring in a crowd. That said, Books on Call NYC sold the books at the gallery in Manhattan, and actually sold out, which I was told never happened before. Cornerstone Bookshop in Plattsburgh did the offsites for the hotel, and Chateaugay Theater events while G Gallery on Long Island ordered the books from Ingram. In addition, I got in touch with Copa da Vino, which offers wine in individual bottles, and got them to agree to sponsor my tour. They had just gotten a lot of attention by turning down the “Sharks’” offer on Shark Tank and were more than happy to provide wine at all my events. It was a hit and the events were all a success, but what I was missing were extra sales because they didn’t take place in a store where there would be the in-store displays and any possible sales afterward. (Although I do hear from Art Graves, owner of Cornerstone Bookshop, who tells me that people still come in looking for a copy of my novels that he keeps on hand.)

 

A few months later, Peggy and I started talking more and more about maybe being able to open a bookstore. We both missed being in that kind of surrounding and began to do some research on how we could possibly make it happen. What was different now from years earlier is that crowdfunding seemed to be a way to possibly help us with our start up costs, since so many people are very supportive of new businesses with entrepreneurs who have passion, drive, and know-how, but not the capital. That would be us.

TurnoftheCorkscrewCORKAfter some time of  brainstorming and coming up with our mission statement, researching, talking with other bookstore owners, joining ABA and NAIBA, and scheduling meetings with distributors and others at this upcoming BEA, we knew by all the responses that now is the time for us to try and make this happen. We also knew we had to offer something more than just a bookstore, so we plan to get a tavern license in order to serve wine and beer, as well as other light refreshments. We also knew that our name had to reflect something more than just a bookstore. Peggy and I went back and forth with suggestions for days but it wasn’t until she was sitting at my kitchen table and spotted a framed picture of corkscrews I have on my wall that she exclaimed, “Taming of the Corkscrew!” Then, we realized what she actually meant was Turn of the Corkscrew in homage to Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. (Yes, we know the story is dark, but we gave it a new twist. Uh, pun intended.) We figured that the literary implication, along with a device that opens a bottle of wine, was perfect, even if we have to explain it to some people who aren’t familiar with the novella.

So, here we are. We have a location in mind, which is about forty minutes from Manhattan and walking distance from the Long Island Railroad, a website in the works, a Facebook page that is getting more likes each day, and a video we shot for our Indiegogo campaign that will be going live in about a week. [Currently live]

We hope that people feel how we feel about the necessity of bookstores and consider supporting our efforts. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy my iPad, but I find comfort in being surrounded by books and my home is filled with books! Peggy and I want to offer a space for people to feel they are welcome, have a beverage of their choice and discover new writers, both locally and nationally. Therefore, depending on how everything plays out, we hope we can invite you to our Grand Opening this fall. We give pretty good parties, even if I have to say so myself.

 

Carol Hoenig

 

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A little bit about Carol and Peggy:

Carol Hoenig is a full-time freelance writer and publishing consultant. Her novel OF LITTLE FAITH was published Oct. 2013. She is the multi-award winning author of the novel, WITHOUT GRACE and THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO PLANNING BOOK EVENTS and was named Best of Long Island Author 2012 by the Long Island Press Outstanding Advocate for the Arts 2013 by the Long Island Arts Council. Her stories are in numerous anthologies and she blogs for The Huffington Post. She teaches continuing education courses at Hofstra University. In addition, she and a business partner are on a journey to open a bookstore/community center in Rockville Centre. Find out more about her at www.carolhoenig.com.

Peggy Zieran started her career in the book industry in 1992 when she was hired by Borders Books & Music in Levittown, Long Island as their children’s clerk. Peggy moved through the ranks at Borders and eventually became the General Manager of Borders Books & Music in Syosset, Long Island, where she successfully created a welcoming atmosphere for her staff and customers. Currently, Peggy works as a part-time assistant to Carol Hoenig Publishing Consultant, Inc. while providing daycare for children.

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Related: The Hidden Symphony Behind a Book’s Success

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