“Books You Don’t Need in a Place You Can’t Find”

I saw this on a bumper sticker a few weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. There are so many things right about this seemingly wrong tagline for the Montague Bookmill that it’s hard to know where to start.

Can’t you almost hear the objections that would surely arise as it was quickly dismissed in your standard “creative” meeting?

“What?! In this economy you’re going to remind people that books are a luxury item?” And of course, “People hate to get lost. Why highlight a negative?”

I’m glad the creative person behind this tagline — my guess is it was the owner, but I’ll find out and get back to you — either skirted this process or held firm to her instincts. They were good ones.

Here’s why: The “people” these naysayers would worry about driving away would never make the drive in the first place. Montague Bookmill’s real customers (I suspect) are hardcore bibliophiles who would enjoy nothing more than a long drive to an obscure bookstore where, as the website says, “If we can’t find the book you’re looking for, we’ll find you a better one you didn’t know you wanted.” What a great line. Speaking of, that’s another reason the tagline on the bumper sticker works: It’s clever wordplay … and people who love books eat that stuff up.

So, Montague Bookmill, I commend you for knowing your audience, boldly going after them and ignoring everyone else. Because, do I have to say it? Okay, fine, I’ll say it: You can’t be all things to all people. (That means you, local suffering café in my neighborhood that sells sushi, ice cream and bagels.)

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2 replies
  1. Susan Shilliday says:

    Thanks for noticing. I wish I could claim the slogan. The previous owner, David Lovelace, also a writer, came up with it. I bought the store, and its incomparable motto, three years ago. And yes, our customers are hard-core bibliophiles who spend hours here browsing and generally hanging out. A word of advice— many GPS systems can’t find us either, so look at a map or give us a call before coming to visit. But come visit.

  2. Anna Goldsmith says:

    Yes, Susan, it would be a great slogan to claim. I guess I’m not surprised that David (in addition to having a great name) is also a writer. Looking forward to seeing your store — and thanks for writing! Cheers, Anna

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