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An Interview with Nicole Yasinsky of novel. in Memphis, TN

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Name: Nicole Yasinsky

Position at Store: Marketing Manager

Store and location: novel.  Memphis, TN

Social Media Stats: FB: 5,467; Instagram: 3,075; Twitter: 734

Events and buyer contact info:

  • Events Coordinator: Emily Draffen -- edraffen@novelmemphis.com
  • Adult Book Buyer: Jason Bouck  -- jbouck@novelmemphis.com
  • Children's Book Buyer: Wilson Robbins -- wrobbins@novelmemphis.com

Number of years as a bookseller: I will celebrate 21 years as a bookseller in August! Wow. Has it really been that long?

Best part about being a bookseller? Putting books in people's hands, of course! There is nothing quite like finding the perfect book at the perfect time for a person -- there are so many variables, and it seems so unlikely, but this is what indie booksellers do all day, every day. I keep an old Candlewick mug on my desk at all times that has a quote from Kate DiCamillo at the 2010 Indies Choice Awards: "We forget that the simple gesture of putting a book in someone's hands can change a life. I want to remind you that it can. I want to thank you because it did."

What book(s) are you reading? I am currently reading Slay by Brittney Morris -- and I just picked up The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates!! SO much good stuff coming out this fall!!

Favorite handsell of 2019: I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott - this is funny and witty and happy and sad and inspiring and silly -- and exactly what so many of us need to hear and read in our lives these days!

Best thing you did this year at your store: It's a little over a year since we did it -- but it's still one of my favorite things --  and something I'm hoping to do more of in the future! We were fortunate enough to host Leslie Odom, Jr. at the Orpheum Theater. This, in and of itself, was a dream come true. BUT. The coolest part was that we were able to work with organizations and sponsors to bring 150 kids to this event - for free, transportation included! -- with a ticket that included a copy of the book AND a private backstage meet-and-greet book signing. We made a lot of public school theater kids incredibly happy -- and it's going to take a lot to top this event -- but we're working on it!!

What are some ways you work with your community? Something fun we did recently was to invite members of our community -- non-profit organizations, the mayor, long-time regular customers -- to submit shelftalkers for a special table display -- Friends of Novel. This allows us to highlight not just what we are reading, but what the rest of our city loves! This table just came down, but we worked the shelftalkers into the section (branded as Friends of Novel, so as not to confuse them with our other staff shelftalkers), and we hope to continue gathering and displaying these from different folks indefinitely. Everyone seemed incredibly excited and honored to be a part of this, and we want to continue to forge strong and multi-faceted relationships with people in our community. We also work with schools and organizations to help raise funds through shopping nights in-store, selling books/sharing proceeds at offsite events, featuring organizations at in-store events and giving back a percentage of proceeds, in-school book fairs. We invite non-profit organizations to gift wrap during busy holiday times for donations. It has turned out that many of these are dog rescue groups (awwww!) and not only do they need donations, but they get TONS of doggos adopted by bringing them out to the store! We are always trying to come up with ways to bring authors to different schools and audiences, and we are pretty much willing to try anything once, so we are constantly having conversations with our partners to see what else we can do to help each other out.

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Literacy Mid-South, Memphis Jewish Community Center, OUTMemphis, WKNO-FM, Memphis Public Library, Arts Memphis, Memphis Reads, Indie Memphis Film Festival, Books from Birth, St, Jude Children's Research Hospital, Lyceum Circuit

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? Well, since I haven't quite found a way to work my love of musicals into my bookselling life yet (but just WAIT until I write my musical about Indies v. Amazon!), I think that my passion  for my city has played a huge role in my decision to work in indie bookstores here. It was definitely key in my dedication to helping create a new bookstore, truly and finally locally-owned here in Memphis. While our owner was liquidating our previous store (The Booksellers at Laurelwood), the community was heartbroken, and asking how they could help, and what could be done -- and after quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears, we were able to put numbers together and find a group of investors (they were all our customers, y'all -- they are the ones who really came through for us!), who placed their faith in our seasoned staff and trusted us to open a brand new bookstore for Memphis - and here we are!

Top priority for 2019: This isn't a very flashy or exciting answer, but honestly, since we will only be celebrating 2 years in business, we are really just trying to focus on the numbers and make sure that we are doing everything in a way that we can ensure we will be around for many years to come. (Told you it was boring!) BUT...we do have a SUPER fun side project for 2019: We've got an old bookmobile we are in the process of fixing up, and we are hoping to get that up and running and take it to hospitals, schools, retirement homes, festivals, and anywhere else we can think of where there is a need for books!!

Favorite SIBA programming benefit: It's hard to nail down just ONE -- I really love the overall sense of community & idea-sharing that SIBA membership provides that is unique to our region. This includes the Discovery Show -- where I can exchange ideas with my peers and meet great authors and learn about great new books -- but also, the support and education that is provided throughout the year, as well through webinars and such. PS -- I also love the holiday catalog and all of the wonderful Okra marketing materials; these programs are such a great benefit, and are a great way for us to complement the marketing pieces we are using in our stores.

 

   

Tags:  bookseller interview  novel 

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