Meet The Business Owner: Back Pages Books

Owner Alex Green talks about the Moody Street business he started in 2005.

Owner Alex Green opened Back Pages Books in 2005 and since made not only a job, but a lifestyle. Check out our profile of the shop below, in what is the first of a series of profiles of local businesses.

Why did it open in Waltham as opposed to another town?: “I had gone to Brandeis, and I really fell in love with Waltham.  I was at a barbeque with a friend, and we both were thinking of what we wished was in Waltham when we were at college, and we came up with a bookstore.  So I said, ‘Why not open a bookstore?’”

How many workers do you employ?: “It varies constantly depending on the season.  There are four total now, including me.  Everyone comes with equal skill sets, and everyone has a different strength to make it a well-rounded store.  All three of our current workers read different things.  Books are an entertainment form, like movies and music.  We share a general sense that books are really fun to read.”

What are the challenges of running a business?: “There are a lot [of challenges] these days.  Obviously, the economy has hurt a lot of people.  Running a small business is like running a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to pace yourself well and think a lot about the little things.”

What is your favorite part of running a business?: “I enjoy it because it’s really fast-paced, and there’s a lot to do.  Every once in a while it overwhelms you.  It is really important for me – the owner – to be in the store with the customers.  I’ve never understood retail stores where the owner wasn’t actively working in the store.  Moody Street is like the soul of the community.  I love talking with people about what they will read, what they won’t read. I love being involved with the community, especially with the uniqueness of a town like this.  The best kind of entertainment is social interaction.  We read books for ourselves, but also to talk with others about them.”

What is the worst part of running a business?: “The one flipside to having a close-knit community is some things are out of your control.  Things can’t always work perfectly.  Just generally, making sure everything comes through perfectly.  The digital world has given us a sense that everything works perfectly.  [For example,] it’s a week before Christmas, and the guy from FedEx is two days behind schedule with the orders.”

Do you have plans to expand?: “I will always be on Moody Street in Waltham.  I want to introduce some stuff that’s a little more unconventional.  I want to do book publishing workshops, so that may mean I’ll need more space.  In the long-term future, we’ll be on Moody Street, but I think that’s an exciting prospect.”

What do you get out of running a business?: “I get everything out of this.  I get my entire life out of this place.  This is everything that I am.  For better or worse, there’s no separation between this place and me.”

What is an average day like for you?: “On a typical day at the bookshop, I begin around 8:30 a.m. by checking e-mail, book orders and book news.  Most days I shuffle between those three things, as well as shelving, pricing, and organizing books and frequently setting up and organizing author talks at the store.  I usually take some of the day to work on books that we publish as well and to brainstorm things for future months as well as work on the store Web site and Facebook page.  I customarily work until around 10 p.m. with a short break for dinner.  I'm not a huge fan of lunch because it seems to make me sleepy!”




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