Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is Jeremy Ellis, General Manager of Brazos Bookstore, a neighborhood institution based in Houston, Texas.
Brazos Bookstore has been part of the Houston literary community since 1974. In addition to selling a diverse collection of books, we pride ourselves in connecting our community with authors from our area and around the globe. When the store’s ownership changed in 2006 and the possibility of shutting down became known, the community of Brazos fans petitioned to keep our doors open. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to continue our long-standing tradition where we host author events, readings and exhibitions from writers such as Walter Cronkite, Julia Child, Kofi Annan, and P. J. O’Rourke, to name a few.
When I joined the staff in September 2011, Brazos was still operating in many ways as it did in the 70s and 80s. Employees would schedule the author series on a single paper calendar, and only one of our computers had email set up. All of our software was outdated, and the programs that were available ended up causing more roadblocks than value.
We needed a system that could better manage our day-to-day operations. Since I was already familiar with Google from personal use, moving the bookstore to Google Apps for Business was a natural transition. Today, all seven of our employees are able to access their email and calendars from any computer in the store, at home, and on their smartphones. This accessibility not only eases communication between the staff, but also keeps everyone up to speed on events, shipments and other activities at the shop.
Scheduling author visits on Google Calendar is easy, instant, and live, and it’s saved us from double-booking authors. I’m now able to easily collaborate with our buyer when we’re planning in-store events, which has streamlined the process for ordering books and helps me track book sales from author readings.
Google Apps has given us the organizational tools we need to continue serving Houston’s literary and arts culture. Our vision over the past forty years hasn’t changed, and now we have the technology to support our store for the future.