Hillbilly Girls Gone Wild

Mucho thanks to Duane Sweirczynski, the world’s greatest cross-genre crime novelist, for alerting me a few weeks ago to Kayo Books, which is, it turns out, the world’s greatest purveyor of vintage paperbacks.

Kayo is located on Post in San Francisco, four blocks west of Union Square and, very conveniently, three blocks from the Donatello, where we spent four nights last week.

What a treasure!

Deb gravitated right away to Beatrice, the shop’s canine greeter.

Of course, I was drawn to the floor-to-ceiling stacks and shelves of paperbacks and magazines — all painstakingly categorized…

Sci-fi, westerns, hardboiled detectives, pulp originals and reprints, ’60s and ’70s TV show novelizations. (If you’re looking for impossible-to-find Man From U.N.C.L.E. paperbacks, Kayo is the spot to find ’em.)

Some categories would make the old Dewey Decimal System blush, then curl up and die in a musty closet…

Catholic guilt, sex on the moon, big-busted hillbilly girls, naughty nurses, juvenile delinquents, boarding school antics, and hookers with hearts of gold.

Besides its extraordinary and intimidating inventory, what’s most impressive about Kayo Books is its self-awareness.

Kayo knows what it does, it does it very well, and it knows its market.

Here’s how the Kayo people describe their business on their website:

“KAYO Books is … a bookstore in downtown San Francisco specializing in Vintage Paperbacks from the 1940s to 1970s and esoteric books of all persuasions. Our small store is like a museum of pulp fiction and non-fiction. The stock presents a glimpse into the lurid past of dimestore novels, sleazy 1960s exploitation, and 1970s pop culture.”

This finely honed “unique sales position” is what distinguishes successful little Kayo Books from a big “something for everyone” chain like Barnes & Noble. And even from almost every other used bookstore.

Kayo has a rabid clientele because it recognizes a desire and caters to it shamelessly.

Kinda makes ya wonder how well tuned you are to your own (or future) business, huh?

What exactly do you offer?

Who’s your market? (Fer kryssakes, don’t say, “Everybody!”)

Kayo knows itself inside and out. These folks know who they are and why geeks like me go bugnutz when we discover them.

Study what Kayo Books, and others like them, do. Then go and do likewise.

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