Here are a few more pictures of the book event from Landmark. One thing I have noticed with bookstores is that they do tend to discount your estimates. (I can understand that because authors do tend to inflate the estimates of their popularity but it can have a negative effect if the author's estimate comes true.) For example I told the Landmark Store Manager that they could expect 100 or more people (because I am a local and I can expect that many friends and family). But despite many gentle reminders the store was ready for about 60 and that meant that at least 50 guests were left standing in the final analysis.
Due to this, the refreshments that the store offers, also fall short mainly because they tend to estimate everything on the lower side. So when someone in the audience does mention that 'yes, there were refreshments, but they never got to me...' - it does not reflect too well on the store especially if they are keen on footfalls. Events, stores must realize are a wonderful way to get new footfalls and convert them into loyal customers.
Thirdly, I find that there is a lack of preparation in many ways. Media, for example should be shown a predesignated space so that the audience gets to see what is happening. One experience should be enough to fine tune this activity. For example in the World Book Fair, where we launched the book in February, the organisers made it clear that the media cannot stand in the front of the dais and should be at the back of the hall through the event. That way the audience got to see the event and
the press got its bytes after the event.
Another thing that any bookstore could do well is to keep the podium at a place where there is sufficient lighting. This is important because one has to read from the book and if the lighting is not sufficient, it becomes inconvenient. Also picture quality gets compromised if the podium and the dais are in the dark.
I always find it amusing when store managers brush away all attempts of mine to prepare for the event. In fact in several places I have gone to the store and made an attempt to meet the manager and disscuss the event flow, the PR and other arrangements a couple of days prior to the event, and have found them a very reluctant lot. Several made me wait for long and then brushed off the whole affair as something that they have been doing often and know inside out. And then when the event begins, you find that they do not have the event flow properly, names and introductions of guests, no protocol when senior guests are invited, no script which makes them fumble and bumble like amateurs...which makes it all very embarrassing. A few minutes of preparation, an understanding of the flow and people, a written script, makes all the difference between a mediocre event and a good one. It is here that I would like the young managers take the initiative and do a better job because it reflects the store and its professionalism.
For example, the space for the event cannot be made arranged after the guests arrive (which I found in a few places). After we arrive, they start moving shelves to create space and then lay down chairs and stuff while we all wait including the chief guest.
Another thing is that there is no announcement made about sale of books, where the books are available and where to pay etc. Most guests are generally wondering how to go about the process and some go away without buying.
These small things make a big difference in the end as to how the event is perceived by the visitors. For the bookstore, repeat customers can be cultivated only if the guests have a good first experience!