Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Playing catch-up

Sorry to have been so absent in my postings lately, but I've been kind of overwhelmed at work. Starting today, the Los Angeles bookselling world will be dominated by Book Expo America, or BEA, the industry's enormous annual convention and trade show, for most of the coming week. We expect a lot of out-of-town booksellers and publishers to pass through our doors in the next few days, so for the last month the orders from on high have been to clean, tidy, freshen and generally spiff the place up. I, as I may have mentioned, am the "visual merchandising manager," meaning I'm in charge of merchandising and displays as well as all the store's signage. I have been hit, and hit hard, with numerous requests for signs and posters. Here are some of the things I have produced in the last week:

Making these boxy display signs is a pain in the ass, but the store manager loves 'em so I foresee many more in my future. "Living Green" is a newish section of the store that I pushed to create, full of recycled and environmentally friendly products.

Somebody told me to make this sign so I did. I don't know what "Summer Starts Here!" means. It's hard to tell, but this sign is really big -- something like 3 x 5 feet. Our facilities manager, who is stuck with the unpleasant job of having to hang all my creations, had to go buy extra chain to support this poster. This is one of my cut-and-paste jobs: this poster was made with recycled gatorboard, paper, glue and double-stick tape. I'm pretty old school in my art techniques.

Another cut-and-paste job, but this one includes a garland!

Banners: probably my least favorite type of signage to make. Great font, though.

I didn't really make this sign -- I did the lettering and then let the cashiers do all the work while I "supervised" (i.e., checked in with them when it was all done and confirmed that they'd done a good job).

Finally, we needed some polite but honest new signs for the stalls in the ladies' room, so I came up with these. Like most of the signs and posters I make at work, these were created in Word 97; even my technology is old school. I've had several compliments on these little guys.

This morning my to-do list was much shorter and more manageable than it's been in weeks. I got to work shortly before 7 a.m. and started in with my tasks. At 8:15 the book department manager's voice came on the intercom and said, "Will all employees please evacuate the building immediately." Turns out the plumber, who had been cleaning the roots out of our sewage lines this morning, had nicked a gas line and there was now a pretty severe gas leak. A bunch of us employees milled around the store parking lot for about two hours, when the fire department finally said it was safe to re-enter the building. It was a mini vacation for most of us, but the store manager was freaking out because she was planning to give several guided tours to publishing execs from New York; fortunately, although the gas company had to tear up the sidewalk in front of the store to patch the gas line, things were more or less back to normal before any of the publishing bigwigs showed up.

I'm so tired from all the hard work I've put in during the past couple of weeks that I have decided to forgo all the educational workshops and industry seminars at BEA and instead just attend the book trade show on Saturday. All I'll need is a comfy pair of shoes and a tote bag in which to stash my free books; although I will be representing my bookstore and probably talking to publishers about future display opportunities, it will seem like a vacation after all the work I've put in lately.

BEA is always a good place to meet authors and celebrities. Among the many, many people who will be signing books this weekend are Dionne Warwick, Kevin Nealon, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Philippa Gregory, Tommy Chong, Kirk Cameron, Salman Rushdie, Dave "Reuben Kincaid" Madden, Ernest Borgnine, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ray Bradbury, and Alec Baldwin. I made a little list of authors I definitely want to see, and I was a little embarrassed to realize that I have two Star Trek stars on that list: William Shatner, who'll be signing his autobiography Up Till Now, and Leonard Nimoy, signing The Full Body Project, described in the show program as "interpretive nude photographic studies of full-bodied women." It's embarrassing because, honestly, I really don't care at all about Star Trek and I don't want to be mistaken for a trekkie. Curtis, if you're reading this, I'm going to try to get those books for you.

1 comment:

kb said...

Very nice job on your signs! My favorite is definitely the "Summer Starts Here" one. There's something 70's about it that I love. And flushing diapers down the toilet? Do people really do that?