Psst. Psst! Looking for a Harlequin From Way Back When?

There are a great many resources for folks who are hunting down that obscure category romance from the early back-when to the late days-of-yore, and a great many more resources for people who seek out the latest news and information about the romance world, from writing to reading to – woohoo! – shopping. When I’m looking for news of the genre, I think to myself, “Self, you know where you need to go to find out about new and somewhat innovative small online businesses seeking to serve the avid romance reader? You need to read the U.S. News & World Report.”

From their article on 28 April about the success of small businesses online despite mega-retailers and a very sad and mopey US economy comes this fascinating profile of Derek Stafford, founder and owner of (get ready to bookmark this one because I’d never spell it correctly if you asked me to)  Lughnassadh Books:

Trying to compete with Amazon and other behemoths is daunting. But with the right strategy, an entrepreneur with limited resources can cash in on the boom in online retailing. Derek Stafford, who founded and runs the website Lughnassadh Books, sums up his outlook this way: “One of the best ways to compete with Amazon is not to.”

Stafford has been selling used books from his website since 1999. In the early days, he says, he would sell pretty much anything he could find. But now, he says, “I’ve gotten more and more specialized.” He stopped selling all fiction except Harlequin romance novels, for which he discovered a distinct niche market. This focus gives him a brand that distinguishes Lughnassadh from the big boys. He’s trying to create a comprehensive listing of all the Harlequin romance novels to further develop this brand and establish himself as a one-stop source for genre aficionados. “Even if I can’t be the seller, I want to be the source,” Stafford explains.

That’s right: his store has an entire section of nothing but Harlequin romance novels, and there’s a forum attached to the store for customers who can’t remember the name of the book they’re looking for (no one ever has that problem around here. Least of all me).

 

Stafford also pays attention to the personal touch of shopping online:

The Internet can be an anonymous place with none of the warmth of walking into your neighborhood store. But small-business people have found ways to genuinely interact with their customers online. Unlike most online retailers, from whom customers get automated E-mail confirmations that their orders have been shipped, Stafford says he writes personal messages for each order to let the customer know that he’s really looking at it. “The kind of thanks that I get is really the telltale,” he says. “Everything I send out gets some sort of thank you.”

I haven’t shopped from Lughnassadh personally, but if you’re looking for the rare or antique category romance, Stafford’s online store might be a good place to start. Curious about the name? I was, and on the “About Us” I found:

I get a lot of questions about our name. LughnassadhBooks.com is named for the Druid harvest festival lughnassadh (pronounced loo-nah-sahd). The festival also honors the Celtic god Lugh, who presides over the harvest and knowledge — you could say he was the Druidic god of the farmers and the teachers. Since I grew up on a farm and I’ve always loved books, it fits me and my business perfectly. LughnassadhBooks.com is devoted to preserving the written word and cultivating the love of knowledge.

Cool.

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  1. 1

    He’d have to be pretty good to compete with HABO. Or maybe you should combine forces…

  2. 2
    Sandra D says:

    This is awesome, usually ubs won’t touch anything but the latest HQ books. I often buy batches of books from the Friends of the Library counter and end up with part of a series that I enjoy, but there’s no way I could get the rest of, but NOW I CAN! sweeet

  3. 3
    rebyj says:

    There’s an old series set in the area of Kentucky that I was raised in, I should hunt that up and buy it for my keeper shelf.

    great resource thanks for the link.

  4. 4
    tudorpot says:

    A great place to find books is Bookmooch- You list books you wish to get rid of- others mooch them- you get points for listing and for others mooching from you. Spend the points by browsing via search engine for title, author. You pay to ship books out, others pay to ship to you. I’ve been able to acquire almost 100 books since last August this way- mostly romance books. http://www.bookmooch.com

  5. 5
    orangehands says:

    ok, awesomeness. i don’t really buy Harlequin (maybe three out of all my books, if that), but i love that he has such a personal touch and what a cool marketing niche to get on.

    and tudorpot, you rule! that is a site i will definitely use.

  6. 6
    Trumystique says:

    I think the SBs need to create a Profiles in Romance Courage Award-basically awards in any category the SBs decide for individuals that through their work further the romance genre.

    Also could you have some tickertape with hot guys reading romance novels. I was on the 7 train and I saw this absolutely hot guy reading a Jane Feather novel! But of course nobody else would understand the magnitude of my sighting.

  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:

    You were on the 7 with a guy reading Jane Feather? OMG CAMERA SHOT. That’s so freaking cool!

    And yeah, a Men of Romance type award would be a good idea, for Mr. Ferber, Mr. Firth, and Mr. Stafford. Will ponder.

  8. 8
    Trumystique says:

    Yes he was on the 7! He was this older African American guy who looked like Carl Lumbly (google him). I was looking at him cause he was an attractive older guy. And I always snoop and look at what people are reading and I saw he was reading a romance. By. Jane. Feather. WHOA! I almost tried to break out my cellphone for a pic. But then I was like who would I send it to? So my voyeuristic, snoopy tendencies would be normalized if you posted camera shots of that ilk.

  9. 9
    Angela says:

    That’s pretty damn smart.

  10. 10
    Ostrea says:

    In addition to Bookmooch, there’s PaperbackSwap. If you venture into the member forum, there are several regular posters there who offer specials on category romances, anywhere from 2 to 6 books for 1 credit. I’ve seen similar specials on westerns, YA series, and children’s books.

  11. 11
    Rathna says:

    Sounds Good. Well written!!

  12. 12
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