I'm always thrilled when a new bookstore opens--and I've been begging people to open one in Hoboken for years--and I'm thrilled to have Christopher Jones (along with Gina Holmes, he's opening Monte Cristo Bookshop in New London, Cionnecticut) here to talk about it. Thank you, Christopher, for both the interview and for the bookstore!
I'm delighted that you are starting a bookstore! What made you decide to do this (and will you PLEASE open one in Hoboken?)
I have been in retail management much of my adult life. One day back in November, while job hunting I thought to myself why can’t I just open my own store? But what to sell? The answer was in front of us, in piles on the ground, on shelves in the living room, in our bags, on the floor of our cars. Books! Gina is the most well read person I’ve ever met. We were both together. It just seemed perfect. At first we thought “Cee Gee’s Independent Bookshop” would be a good name and we used to it to promote ourselves. It was quite effective. We were on the radio, in the newspaper...even the governor sent us a handwritten letter of support.
After deliberating we changed the name to “Monte Cristo Bookshop” . The building was originally built in the 1910s as The Monte Cristo Garage. It was owned by actor James O’Neill, father of author Eugene O’Neill, New London’s most famous resident. In theaters around the world he played the role of the Count 6000 times. Some called it an obsession. He named many of his properties after names in the story. So here we are. Not a sandwich. Not a cigar. But an island with a secret treasure. Perfect.
What kind of store is it going to be?
It will sell mostly new books of all genres but also have a limited used selection and various knick-knacks. We expect an inventory of 40,000 books on opening day. Using a distribution model we will deal with local authors and publishers on a case by case basis. Some authors may want money up front, some may do consignment. It really depends. Our used selection will also be extremely limited. Classics and books that we know for certain will sell. We will be open seven days a week from 10-8. There is talk of a possible coffee counter. There will be a dedicated event space.
The store will also have a mobile component initially for school book fairs, but possibly useful as a kiosk near the train station downtown, and at area festivals.
What kind of events will you have?
All sorts of events! We suspected how great these events are at other stores, but after a few long phone conversations with various bookstore owners around the country it became very apparent; These events are the lifeblood of many stores. They certainly will be ours.
We will have several authors per week. Everybody from local authors to celebrity authors will be included. Bigger events will be held at the ballroom or theater down the street, whom love the idea. Authors will be encouraged to read and/or interview in front of a crowd. Weekly children's readings. Fun after hours events like poetry slams, literature themed movie nights, scrabble tournaments. The sky is the limit here.. Keep in mind our space will be a community space. We will have lectures, seminars, and workshops going on all of the time. The key for us is to the keep the store environment a busy open place. We may close our doors at 8pm but I suspect many events going until 10pm.
Will there be an online presence--and how can authors and readers help get the word out!
Yes. We do not have our website up yet but we will be online. There will be an online store as well as a mobile application. As in, on your phone or e-reader device that is compatible, you can browse and buy your books from us a competitive prices. Imagine that?!
What's your twitter and FB handle so everyone can follow you!
Twitter we are @montecristobook
How do you feel about the future of books?
They are not going anywhere. The first time your e-reader screen freezes on you will be your moment. Unless the facebook notifications and text icons dinging in the background pull you away from your story first. Really, books are not music. There is a certain amount of effort that goes into them to read them. The sales figures are in. The industry is hardly doomed. Amazon’s days of monopoly will not be forever. We are very optimistic about it all.
Is there any questions I didn't ask that I should have?
Our fundraiser starts June 1st and runs for eight weeks. Please visit our facebook page on how you can help our dream become a reality!