This season and the new year are busy times for Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa., which opened in 2005 and a little more than a year ago began carrying new books.
Thanks in part to Twitter, in January Aaron's Books is launching a fund-raising program called Book Buying for a Cause; a portion of all sales on Tuesdays will be donated to local nonprofit organizations, a different one each month. The first to benefit will be the Lititz Rec Center, the Lancaster County Division of the American Heart Association, the Literacy Council of Lancaster Lebanon and the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network. "It's important for us to be a part of the community, and this is one way to do it," said store owner Sam Droke-Dickinson.
The program was inspired by a similar one at Pufferbellies Toys & Books
(twitter.com/@pufferbellies) in Staunton, Va., which Droke-Dickinson learned about via Twitter. This was just one important way Droke-Dickinson is using Twitter (twitter.com/@aaronsbooks). Besides keeping in touch with fellow booksellers, on Twitter she communicates with customers, connects with authors--some of whom have since appeared at the store--and highlights other area businesses. She is also using it to promote Aaron's Books as a holiday shopping destination by announcing seasonal events, linking to the store's gift guide and even letting customers know there is a pot of hot tea awaiting them.
"Twitter has helped us reach people in the local community who might not have known we were around," said Droke-Dickinson, particularly those in neighboring towns like Lancaster City, which is several miles north of Lititz. Aaron's is the only general-interest bookstore in the county. "This is only our second holiday season having new books, and people now know they can come to us to do their shopping," Droke-Dickinson said.
So far this season popular gift choices are local-interest books like Ghosts of Hershey and Vicinity
by Christopher E. Wolf and Lititz
by Kathy Blankenbiller, part of Arcadia's Images of America series. Another is Lois Kathryn Herr's Dear Coach: Letters Home from World War II
, a collection of missives sent to the author's father by students he coached at Elizabethtown College who went on to serve in the armed forces. The self-published Dear Coach
is avaiable at only two stores: the college bookstore and Aaron's Books.
Four authors are in a tight race to be the bestselling scribe of the year at Aaron's Books: Lorna Barrett (the Booktown Mystery series), Susan Gregg Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
), A.S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs
) and Maryann McFadden (The Richest Season and So Happy Together
). "They're all books we love, so it's easy to handsell them," Droke-Dickinson said. "It just depends on who walks in the door and what they buy in the next two weeks." She announced the news via Twitter, which then generated responses from the authors.
Also selling well at Aaron's Books are signed copies of a graphic novel for children, The Storm in the Barn
by Matt Phelan, the tale of a boy in Dust Bowl America. Phelan was one of several authors who took part in the store's Kid-Lit Festival, November 13-15, which featured signings, panel discussions, a writing workshop and a book brunch. "People were buying stacks of books and getting them signed as gifts. That really kicked off the holiday shopping season for us," noted Droke-Dickinson. On Black Friday, Aaron's Books and about 20 other Lititz shops and eateries opened at 6 a.m. and offered discounts to early birds.
The Kid-Lit Festival is on the roster for next year, along with a multiday event for mystery authors in early May. An education series, "Living Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise in 2010," is scheduled to begin in January. Topics such as health and nutrition, sustainable living and stress relief will be covered for two months each, with speakers offering tips and advice during that time frame. First up is "Planning for Your Future" with a family lawyer, a CPA, an insurance expert and a financial planner, the latter of whom Droke-Dickinson met at a local Tweet-up.
That's not all that's on the agenda. After the holiday season, Droke-Dickinson and her co-owner and husband, Todd, will renovate the store for an early February relaunch.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt