Selling new fiction and non-fiction in Sacramento

Stan Forbes used to be a corporate lawyer and farmer before becoming a bookselling author. He still tends to his family’s 100 year-old almond orchard. It is a low-maintenance crop which leaves him with enough time to run the almost 5,000-square foot Avid Reader at Sacramento Tower. Forbes opened the store with Alzada Knickerbocker as co-owner.

1000 people attended The Avid Reader’s grand opening at Tower. This included the city council. Forbes stated that Forbes had created a beautiful cake out of a stack book and local authors.

Forbes and Knickerbocker founded the Avid Reader in Davis, California in 1987. Knickerbocker is the sole owner of Davis’s 3,300-square foot location. Half of the Avid Reader Tower is also owned by Knickerbocker.

Forbes said that the Sacramento store, which was once Tower Books, is now the largest independent between Bakersfield, Redding, and Redding. Forbes and Knickerbocker razed the building in preparation for The Avid Reader. He stated that it had been built in 1928, and used to be a grocery shop. “We exposed the brick that was covered up. Our colors are white and blue. Alzada went on a trip through Greece and wanted the same colors…. We all have natural stained wood shelves.”

The store includes strong fiction, history and children’s literature sections. Forbes also created a substantial magazine section with over 1000 titles. Forbes felt that customers would be expecting magazines because Tower Books has carried them. He stated, “We are very focused on satisfying customer expectations so we provide them.” “We offer a huge range of magazines, many of which I’ve never even heard of. But they sell. It’s worked.”

Forbes observed that the customers of the store were conditioned to expect new things — including Book Sense Picks fliers. He stated that “people come looking” for them. Book Sense gift cards are also sought by shoppers who came looking for them, as the store sold “a lot” during the holiday season.

The Avid Reader at The Tower is a similar location to Davis. They host a variety of events off-site as well as on-site. Last week, Maria Schriver ( How’s Heaven, Golden Books Adult ) and Sue Miller( The Senator’s Wife, Knopf) were guests at the store. Upcoming: Geraldine Brooks ( People of the Book Viking).

Forbes said that the celebration at the bookstore for the July release of Harry Potter, and the Deathly Hallowsin July proved to be a great success. The 500-plus participants enjoyed watching the movies on the outside wall.

Forbes is partnering with Russ Solomon, former owner and founder of Tower Records, to present more of the same. Russ Solomon opened a music shop across the lot from The Avid Reader. “We would love to work together this summer, and we’d like for musicians to play there regularly.

Forbes claimed that residents in the area were pleased to see a bookstore remain. Forbes said, “People love it.” “It’s Sacramento’s prettiest shop.” We are very proud to be an independently owned bookstore. We are proud to wear it on our sleeves.”