I occasionally hear one of my bibliophile friends disparage decorators. “Oh, they only want green books,” they’ll say as they sneer and drip contempt.
I am here to tell you that decorators have kept the Iliad afloat during difficult times. In truth, I’m not sure we would have survived 2020 without decorators. I know our situation – i.e., being a used bookstore in Los Angeles, the home of both the film industry and many wealthy abodes – is probably not the case for bookstores in other parts of the country, but for us, decorators are an important part of our business.
Before I explain that, let’s first define “decorators”. Decorators can refer to one of two occupations:
- Interior Decorators – those who are decorating a private residence or business.
- Set Decorators – those who are decorating a movie, television, or play set.
There are slight differences between the way these two types of decorators shop: interior decorators will typically buy books that fall into their client’s fields of interest (most often photography or art books), and will be willing to spend more per book if it’s one they think the client will like.
Set decorators are likelier to buy loads by size or color, since they’re working with production designers, cinematographers, and directors; they may also have to buy books to match a certain time period, and will be more interested in cheaper books they can buy in bulk.
Here’s how it works with decorators: we’ll get an e-mail, a phone call, or a visit, and they’ll tell us what they’re looking for. We may or may not assemble a sample lot for them. They may give us broad instructions like, “I need sixty feet of hardcover novels by tomorrow,” and we’ll quote them a price per foot (which will vary depending on whether we pick the books or they do).
Decorators always need a lot of books. Even with a bulk discount (which we supply on large lots), it adds up quickly. On a day during which our average sale is $20 or less – which has been the case through much of 2020 – one decorator can spend enough to keep us in the black. If we get several decorators in one day, that can almost be our week right there.
One other thing I’ll add: in case you’re imagining that decorators might be snooty or hard to deal with, think again. Decorators are almost invariably great to work with. They’re experienced, pleasant, and fast.
If you’re a decorator, drop us a call or e-mail, or come on in – we’d love to work with you! If you’re not a decorator, love them on behalf of your local bookstore since they may be a big part of the reason it’s still around.