Read Local: Nicholas Potter Bookseller

"A different bookseller for the City Different"

Date January 4, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Authors & Literature Business Community Education Lectures & Workshops

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There is a little yellow house on East Palace Avenue a few steps off the plaza, where book lovers in the know who live in Santa Fe or visit the City Different are sure to be found. Nicholas Potter Bookseller is carrying on a family tradition. There are more than 15,000 volumes of rare and wonderful books in this family-owned business. Since 1969, Nicholas Potter Bookseller has served the community of Santa Fe and established itself as one of the intellectual voices of reason in the community.

A Different Bookseller for the City Different

This is a store neither affiliated with any major university nor is it influenced by any publisher or market trend. It is the outreach of the mind of its founder and run today by the founder's son, Nicholas Potter. Raised by politically aware and community active parents, Nicholas and his six brothers were home schooled by their mother, whose dedication to the education of her sons is evident in their choice of career paths. They are scholars, doctors, artists and musicians. His college years completed at Princeton University, Nicholas choose to return to Santa Fe and take over the family business. He responds to books and loves the rare find of a book for a customer who has not been able to locate their treasure anywhere else.

Nicholas does a brisk Internet business and has a worldwide clientele. He buys from individual collectors all over the in every country and his collection of jazz CD’s is sufficient to make the most discriminating jazz aficionado take notice and add something they have been searching for to their collection.

Recently Santafe.com had the distinct pleasure of spending time at the little yellow house. We toured the collections and spoke at length with the consummate bookseller Nicholas Potter.

SFDC: Who do you see as your customer?

Potter: My best customer is what I call the niche customer. They are book people. People who want to have books because they are true bibliophiles. They are people who have books to be able to have information and are interested in continuing a lifelong quest of education. They are looking for crafted book bindings and other production details that make books important to them

SFDC: Sounds like these are special people with an unusual interest in books.

Potter: My customers have a special … I would say a more than passing interest in the importance of self-education...the subject may or may not have anything to do with their chosen profession in life. Information becomes a passion for them. Each book leads to another. They are creatures of ideas, Ideas they can hold and refer to whenever the mood strikes them…creatures of the “thing”… the ritual of the book.

SFDC: What is your take on the advent of the e-reader? Has it affected your business?

Potter: E-commerce changed the way most people buy and sell books. The problem with the e reader method of book sales is, in most cases you must know the subject and specific book you are looking for. This store is a literary environment. My customers come here for the pleasure of being able to ask questions and to browse. Browsing is the most important feature in buying a book. We can offer the same book at pretty much the same price as an Internet warehouse, but the visual and sensual nature of a bookstore is an experience you cannot duplicate.

SFDC: Are you seeing any trends in book buying?

Potter: Well, we were speaking about the e-reader phenomenon and I have noticed many of my customers who own electronic devices for reading also want to purchase the book if they really like the content. I see them doing this in order to share their find with friends or family. There is no sharing with digital books. The e reader is totally a personal way to read. Books have life.

SFDC: Have you felt a difference in your business with the closing of Borders in Santa Fe?

Potter: Independent booksellers like myself, have always had a purpose of service to the intellectual,  individuals who practice life with a more informative thesis, concept of communication and culture. If anything, this customer never left the independent bookstore, so Borders catered to a different customer. I see no competition with my colleagues. We are totally a used book store so for me we all offer a different type of service. There is room for everyone.

Nicholas Potter is enthusiastic about the art of the book, which translates into his business module. It is a uniquely personal concept of customer communication in the changing world of bookselling.  He approaches each acquisition and sale with a visual, enthusiastic and sensual attitude to give you, his customer, a personal experience to help select the perfect book.

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