Midpeninsula Post

How Books Inc.’s displays add a unique touch to the book-buying experience

Books Inc's April 2022 display, in honor of national poetry month. (Arya Nasikkar)

Stepping into Books Inc., there’s a good chance the store looks just a little different than it did on your last visit.

That’s because Books Inc.’s employees work together to create timely displays, such as April’s setup of poetry books in honor of National Poetry Month; March’s Women’s History Month display and Trans Day of Visibility shelf; or February’s display showcasing literature by Black authors in honor of Black History Month.

“There’s a lot of really great books out there that are by Black authors about Black people, but they don’t usually get the same reception that books by white authors do, so we tried to really highlight those books and those authors,” employee HP Peterson said.

Customers can often see choices like this in Peterson and their co-workers’ process of putting together displays; they said staff is given “a lot of room to be creative.”

Peterson said some the most notable displays they’ve worked on include a queer romance display and a “blind date with a book” display. In a “blind date with a book,” customers chose a wrapped book based on a written description without looking at it first.

Peterson got the idea from social media, which they said employees frequently utilize to identify trends and popular books when making display choices.

Customers can go on a "blind date with a book," which entails buying a pre-wrapped book based off a staff-written description. (Arya Nasikkar)

“Trends really come and go in the book industry,” they said. “So we try to keep up with what is trendy.”

The bookstore recently ordered more books from author Colleen Hoover after identifying her surge in popularity on TikTok.

Making sure to stay informed about popular books is crucial for independent booksellers like Books Inc; Peterson said knowing what customers want and being able to offer good service is the store’s mission.

“We really pride ourselves on helping people out,” Peterson said. “We really try to know everything about what’s going on in the book industry.”

Peterson said the store’s displays offer connection in a way that can’t be achieved online; they said that even before working at the store, they always appreciated how the ever-changing displays made each visit unique even for regulars. 

“We really try to change up the displays pretty often so that people who are here all the time have new things to look at,” Peterson said.

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