Groundhog’s Day is a bigger event than most people know. True, you don’t send cards, buy presents, or bake traditional Groundhog Cakes. But it is apparently the moment when people throw off that muscle ache that’s been hitting them in the shoulders and between the eyes, and sigh, “Well, it really is a new year.”
At least, that’s the impression I get from the mail. In the aftermath of Christmas spending and New Year’s resolutions, I see fewer catalogs, fewer postcards from restaurants, and fewer bits of junk mail with special offers (not including campaign stuff.) NOW people once again have disposable income and have shed the inhibitions they swore to on January first.
And I have been inspired by a food catalog which came my way. It is like most food catalogs: things I could buy at the grocery store, but with special labels and wrapping to justify the triple price. This outfit specializes in charging a great deal for its wares, but then offering special sale combinations at special rates (only double what you’d pay at the store.) For Valentine’s Day, for example, they suggest you get the champagne, steak, baked potato, five pound box of chocolates combo, or the dozen red roses, lobster macaroni and cheese, and sparkling grape-infused water collection.
This may well be the wave of the future for the Book Fair. Not only could I charge more for the thought and trouble of pulling things together, I can perhaps combine a few low-selling items with the things people actually want, and clear shelves faster. We could offer, say:
THE ELECTION YEAR COMBINATION: This is an assortment which is half fantasy and half humor, plus one book on reading tea leaves.
GUILTY PLEASURES COLLECTION: This is six paperbacks from (your choice) Romance or Mystery (please specify Time Travel Romance, Gothic Romance, Mystery with Tea Drinkers, Mystery with Whiskey Swillers) PLUS one easy snack cookbook.
GUILTIER PLEASURES COLLECTION: This is the same as the above, except in place of the cookbook, we would provide one 400 page book from (Your Choice) Philosophy, Political Science, or Sociology, which you can ignore while you’re reading the paperbacks.
CHILDREN’S GUILTY PLEASURE COMBO: If you are over 30, you will get five really stupid paperback series books you read when you were twelve, PLUS one thick hardcover depressing young adult novel from today, for you to ignore while you read the others. If you are under 30, you get three really thick depressing young adult novels of today PLUS, for your ignoring pleasure, one cheap paperback series novel your parents read.
HEALTHY CHOICE COLLECTION: We will wrap up four earnest and improving bestsellers of five years ago which you didn’t bother to buy at the time: choose from Health, Political Science, Self Improvement, or Depressing Autobiography, OR choose our random mix and maybe get one of each.
GRAPHIC NOVEL COMBO: Five random graphic novels from our store of these. Note: we will charge extra if you insist on your novels actually being fiction.
LUXURY PACKAGE: We will just wrap up five random collectibles we’ve had donated lately. Will you get the book signed by country music legend Eddy Arnold, or the Muhammad Ali autograph? Will you get the (not yet verified) handwritten note from Tiger Woods or this volume inscribed by the World War II general to the World War II pilot? We do not, at this time, have any signed first editions of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, so you may want to hold off pending further announcements.
The possibilities are limited only by our imagination (how about six dessert cookbooks and a diet planner to put under the pie pan as a trivet?) Anyway, it might finally lay to rest the outrage felt by some volunteers when they see a customer check out with just one book.