A Kink in the Process

(Yes, I know I probably should not be posting my last two process blogs on the final day, but it’s better than not getting to them at all, right?)

Up until the dossier review before Thanksgiving, my process for this project involved collecting as much information as I could. Before embarking on this project, I did not expect there to be as much secondary research on bookstores as I ended up finding. One book or article would lead to another and another, and I found myself not only overwhelmed by information but having to piece together the stories of these bookstores from non-linear narrative or journalistic reports. I chose to focus on a handful of historical stores that are no longer around and planned to do some primary research by visiting bookstores and talking to some owners or managers right after Thanksgiving break.

What I didn’t take into account was how the craziness of the holiday season (the day after Thanksgiving until New Years, essentially) would completely limit the availability of anyone who could speak with me. I reached out to a handful of bookstores to try to schedule interviews and the ones that got back to me said they could not commit to an person interview until after the holidays, which wouldn’t help me in the timeline for this project. A couple of them agreed to answer questions via email, but only one got responses back to me in time for me to include on URT. As an alternative, I ended up excerpting and linking to prior interviews they had done and seeking out any other related media I could find to support my arguments. On the one hand, it’s really great to see that these bookstores are doing so well (with the exception of St. Mark’s maybe), but on the other hand, I’m a little sad about the lack of primary materials for my project.

Part of why I’ve been hesitant to post about this part of the process is that it was admittedly some poor planning and a lack of foresight on my part. To do it over, I definitely would have stopped poring over historical data earlier or begun my process by getting out there to investigate current bookstores and then working backwards. I could have also tried to do both simultaneously, but at some point you have to just learn from all those should haves and could haves and move on.

One comment

  1. “at some point you have to just learn from all those should haves and could haves and move on.”

    Exactly.

    And sometimes second-hand interviews are just as good. There are some key players in particular circles that are asked repeatedly for interviews; you read the interviews, and see that they do the same schtick over and over. And in other cases, you find that interviewers who came before you actually preemptively asked all the questions *you* would’ve asked. In both cases, relying on existing interview transcripts isn’t a bad thing; there’s no need to duplicate prior effort just for the sake of doing it yourself.

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