Fiction Addiction, in beautiful Greenville, SC, is yet another example of a smart, thriving independent bookstore. I say "smart" because Jill Hendrix, the store owner, uses every tool at her disposal to keep her store successful. Jill has embraced social media, cutting edge computer inventory and ordering systems and even optional e-book readers to keep Fiction Addiction prosperous and fresh.
Jill founded the store in May 2001 as a used-book only bookstore carrying just fiction (hence the name). That lasted about a week though because of customer demand for non-fiction titles too, so they started accepting every kind of book for trades. Then they began doing new-book special orders for customers. Finally, Jill joined SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) in 2007 and began transitioning to a new-book bookstore. She started the very successful "Book Your Lunch" author event series in the fall of 2009. Now used books make up less than 10% of their sales.
Here is Jill's very impressive history:
"I grew up in Greenville and was always an avid reader. I graduated magna cum laude from Yale with a B.A. in History. My first job out of college was working as an editorial assistant for (the famous St. Martin's Press editor) Hope Dellon. After about a year and a half I followed a friend to the internet start-up Juno OnlineServices. I worked for various internet start-ups over the next 5 years and in the process purchased an apartment in Brooklyn Heights. The dot-com crash happened at the end of 2000 and the company I was working for -- an early precursor to YouTube -- went under. I sold my apartment and decided to use the proceeds to open Fiction Addiction."
Being tech savvy is no shield from the occasional bookstore near-disaster though. Here's one that fortunately had a happy ending:
"We hosted our biggest Book Your Lunch event in June 2011 with Dorothea Benton Frank. We had sold out our 250-person venue. The evening before the event we'd had a nasty thunderstorm. I got to the store that morning to pick up everything to take to the event and found out that half the store lights were out. I got to the venue and they too were operating on half-power. This meant the A/C was not working in SC in June. Food-wise they were OK because the menu was quiche that had been made ahead and salad. I was running around like crazy with the venue manager looking at every fan they had and making contingency plans in case all the power failed. Luckily, full power came back on about an hour before the event and everyone had a fabulous time. After going through that experience, I feel like any other event problem is simply a minor annoyance."
Here is Jill on the far right with her mom, Nancy McFarlane and ace employee,
I loved this Halloween window display from last year.
And finally Jill's answers to my on-going time travel question series:
If you could go back in time
to any period from before recorded history to yesterday,
be safe from harm, be rich, poor or in-between, if appropriate to your choice,
experience what it was like to live in that time, anywhere on earth,
meet anyone, if you desire, speak with them, listen to them, be with them.
When would you go?
Where would you go
Who would you want to meet?
and most importantly.........why?
"I'd go back in time to the Revolutionary War and meet Frances Marion, the Swamp Fox. I loved the Disney TV series growing up and it probably led to my interest in history in school. I love cultural history -- how we take history and shape it through the lens of our current cultural beliefs. The Swamp Fox is such a legendary figure that a ton has been written about him in the past 200 years and it would be gratifying as a historian to have firsthand exposure to the truth behind the legend."
Thanks Jill, and who among my readers remembers who played the "Swamp Fox" on TV?