January 2017: Meditations

January 2017

On to Year 3

During the Fall, a customer asked me how long I had been one of the Eight Cousins owners. Hmmmmm, I thought -- was it a year? It just didn't seem possible that two years could have passed! However, upon further calculation, indeed, it has been two years! Where did the time go? Fortunately, we at Eight Cousins have been busy, which does make time fly.

My first order of business, upon reflection, is to thank all of our loyal customers who have made these past two years a pleasure as well as a success. Your continued support is absolutely vital. We acknowledge there are other options open to you, and we thank you for choosing Eight Cousins. You are the reason we are still on Main Street.

Some of my best memories of the past year include: collaborating with Mark Schmidt to bring authors to the Falmouth Museums on the Green; working with Marion Bihari and the authors she presents to the Encore Club; listening to Zadie Smith last September in Providence; discussing books with the members of the Readers Night Out book group at the bookstore; and introducing and talking about my favorite books with our customers. 

Authors are my rock stars, and the books they produce are among the great pleasures in my life. When I attend Winter Institute, or the New England Independent Booksellers various meetings, I have the opportunity to meet authors, to hear them discuss their books, and to talk with other booksellers from the region and around the country. It's a privilege to be a member of wonderful "club!"
 
We are excited about the books we are now ordering for the spring and summer; 2017 promises to be another interesting year in the book world, so I look forward to sharing these books and authors with all of you. Perhaps we can even entice some authors to visit our store. Keep track of us on our website and Facebook -- and come on down to Eight Cousins!

 

~ Mary Fran

 

As owners of Eight Cousins, it has become our tradition to reflect on the year behind us and the year ahead. 

When people ask me why I'm part of the ownership team at Eight Cousins, I tell everyone that I'm involved because it's fun. My husband and I have owned another business for thirty years and there is never a dull moment, but reading is my passion and I knew that owning a book store would feed that joy. A friend called my new venture "whimsical," which I think fits perfectly. 

Despite the frantic pace of our world at times, I find that our customers generally slow down their pace and browse the shelves. They want to talk about what they've read and what they're looking to read next.  

One evening last summer I met a family who was in Falmouth for their annual vacation. The mother and grandmother were trying to match their high school age boy with a book. The boy, too cool to appease his mother, didn't want anything to do with the shopping trip. I started talking to him about his interests and what types of stories he did like to read. We settled on Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and he promised to come back to the store this summer to tell me if he liked it. 

This happens often -- a husband selecting a mouthwatering cookbook for his wife, a grandfather searching for the newest Batman book for his grandson, a parent hunting for a novel that her college student studying literature hasn't yet devoured. At first I didn't feel qualified to make recommendations and feared I wouldn't be able to slow my own pace, but chatting and browsing the shelves with a customer, we both discover new reads. And that is fun.

~ Eileen

 

I have a tradition. On January 1 I try to be the first one at the store so that I can take some time to walk through the space and think about everything that has happened since January 1, 2015. I also like thinking about what happened *on* January 1, 2015. It was our first day as owners. We had a party planned. Anticipation and excitement were high, but when we opened the store that morning, we noticed some computer problems. We had no sales system. No inventory system. The program that we relied on the most wasn't working. At all. 

Do you remember that party? Were you there? Did you know that while people were toasting and celebrating in the front, there was someone from IT dismantling our server in the back, looking for solutions? Did you know that our resourceful employees created a temporary solution to keep the store running? My memories of that day are moving from the party in the front of the store to the catastrophe in the back office, thinking the whole time, I guess this is what it means to own a bookstore. I can laugh about it now. I can even see it as a crash-course, because that is exactly what it's like owning a bookstore. It's partying and problem solving. It's hands on tinkering, looking for solutions and it's celebrating. In case you're wondering, I don't look at that day as a ruined party. And for those of you who were there, I can only hope you're thinking, "I had no idea!" But if you're thinking, "yeah, things were so chaotic," please keep it to yourself. Or at least wait a couple more years before you mention it.

January is of course also a time to look forward. Year three is exciting because we understand the rhythm of the store and can plan accordingly. We've accomplished some of our biggest projects -- renovating the store and launching our new logo. We're settling in, but we're also open to new possibilities. 2017 is bringing us all some amazing book. The Hate U Give, by A. C. Thomas, arrives in February; The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, will be available in March. Personally, I am enjoying preparing for  2017. All the while knowing that the next big party/catastrophe/adventure is right around the corner. Anticipation and excitement are high. s

~ Sara