“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep
because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
— Dr. Seuss
I don’t know if a place like this already exists — maybe it does; and if it does, please send me a link to where I can find it. I’d love to hang out there. But in case it doesn’t, here’s the idea for my store. I’m going to outline it for you.
If someone wants to become my partner, or sink 50K into it, then great. We’ll get started right away. Until then, I’m going into this like Lenny and George’s farm dream: with rabbits, a field, and my imagination wide open. If you have a few minutes, I’d like you to join me . . .
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ― John Lennon
Every day I see people in Starbucks tucked away in a corner reading a novel, or at the table typing away on their laptops — writing reports, emails, death notes, or possibly even working on their first or fifth novel. J.K. Rowling reportedly wrote the bulk of her early Harry Potter books in a local coffee shop. The trend has a kind of mystique surrounding it. If you’re a writer, you’ll be seen in one of these places, sipping a latte and knuckling down to work.
My dream is to have a coffee shop similar to these, but one that’s specifically related to literature. It would be a known community for writers or readers of any ilk: professional, amateur, crime writer, children’s author, screenwriter, desperate housewife. A place everyone can go to either indulge in their love of reading, or get to work on their latest masterpiece in a tranquil and encouraging environment. The coffee, biscuits and assorted food and drink items would be there merely as fuel for your creativity.
But there’s more to it than that.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve:
the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coehlo
I’d name the place Ubiquitous — a kind of ironic nod to the ubiquity of current coffee shop masters, but also an in-joke to the writing and reading elite who’d instantly recognise the word and understand it, as opposed to the less educated who probably wouldn’t. For short, and for commercial purposes, it would be known simply as U-bix.
I’d split the interior into sections: an area for the casual drinker at the front, a corner for the readers (you can bring your own book, or pick one from the shelf), a mini-crèche way at the back for the mothers who never seem to find a moment of quiet time to pursue their writing dreams, and a section specifically set out for writers.
With free WiFi in place, writers of any kind (novelists, poets, or those writing romantic letters to long-lost loves and A-list movie stars) would be encouraged to set up their laptop and get to work. They wouldn’t be harassed into buying drinks or forced to spend a certain limit — they can relax into their writing, knowing that when they grow hungry or thirsty, they only have a few yards to walk for a refreshment. When they feel like taking a break, they can join the reading corner. Or go outside and stretch their legs to get the brain juices flowing again.
The reading area will consist of a wall-to-wall bookshelf carrying all the latest releases in a variety of genres. Customers can pick one and read it in one of the many comfortable chairs and beanbags. If they like the book, they can purchase it at the till. Customers would also have the option to download the book to their e-reading device.
We’d offer discounted books based on loyalty: for instance, with every five coffees/hot chocolates, the customer would be rewarded with a 10% discount or free e-book. If they’d prefer to simply read a novel in the store, day after day, without purchasing it, that’s okay too. Like a library, U-bix would encourage customers to hang around and read.
If enough people stopped by to read (and with a crèche in back for the mothers, it would be the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon), we’d hopefully be able to work a deal with Amazon and the larger book publishers. We’d promote their authors’ work in exchange for exclusive discount offers. It’s a win-win: they’d market their writers direct to the readers, and we’d have an up-to-date reading corner full of exciting new titles.
Alongside all of this, I have plenty of minor add-ons to implement.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
The napkins would all have a quote on them — either about writing, or something uttered by a writer, or direct from a book, past or present. The drinks would also have a quote wrapped around their middle. If the customer is curious about the quote and wants to know more about the writer or the book it’s from, they can ask a member of staff who’d be happy to introduce them to more of the writer’s work. Just like in a bookshop, our staff would be there to recommend books to the customers or assist with their searches.
They would also help to inspire the writers by keeping up their spirits.
On top of that we’d run short story competitions weekly. We’d encourage writers to pen their stories in-store and the winners would find themselves prominently displayed on our website. Customers would then have the option to download the winners’ story on their phones or e-reading devices for free with their food and drink purchases. With enough participation in the long run, we’d eventually start a monthly free U-bix magazine filled with short stories for our customers (by our customers) to take away.
Or for them to read at the table with their morning coffees.
“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” ― Vincent Van Gogh
Anyway, that’s the dream. A coffee shop specifically for people like me: writers. A place they’ll feel welcome and be actively encouraged to write. A place where they’ll be surrounded by others who are suffering like them: with writer’s block, with a hard scene, with a rough patch of dialogue they can’t fix. People who understand their plight.
And in the future, when I’m a multimillionaire writer, maybe I’ll be in a position to pursue it. For now, I’ll just imagine it and hope that one day it’ll become a reality.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and Starbucks will steal the idea and set it up.
Or maybe it’ll go the way of Lenny and George.
For those who like the idea, do you have any suggestions on how it could be improved? As a writer (or reader) what would you like to see implemented in the store? How could U-bix improve your writing or reading experience? Write your ideas in the comments.
I’ll consider them all — and possibly add them to my dream world.
Along with my mansion, seven Ferraris, and multiple clones of my fiancée.
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