WALK INTO AL FAHDEN’S BOOK-store in downtown Minneapolis and you will find the walls covered with books. It’s a bookstore, after all, so what would you expect? Even a cursory glance, though, reveals that this store does not dispense books—just a book. The volume in question, Innovation on Demand, written by none other than Al Fahden himself, is the only book in the Philosophy section, in Religion, in Math, in Music. Looking in Fiction? There too. “There are some lies in the book,” explains Fahden.
Not for him the Grishams or Crichtons that a regular bookstore might stock. So how does his singular bookshop—which he calls the Read dundant Bookstore—make a go of it? Actually, tucked away behind a restaurant on Nicollet Mall, it costs very little to run and, says Fahden, 51, “about pays for itself.” Selling 30 to 40 books a month, Fahden isn’t interested in becoming the next Barnes & Noble. He’s interested in drawing attention to his management consultancy business, through which he teaches corporations to be more creative. That’s also what his self-published book is about.
At the core of his workshops is the concept that creativity comes from looking at opposites, which is how he came up with the idea of stocking his book—and his book alone—in a store. “I thought bookstore—lots of books,” he says. “What’s the opposite of that? No books? But I didn’t see how that could work, so we went with one book in many departments.” (For those who follow such trends, Fahden’s isn’t the first one-book bookstore. In 1989, Walter Swan, 70, founded the One-Book Bookstore in Bisbee, Ariz., devoted to his collection of reminiscences.)
Orphaned as a child, Fahden, who grew up with relatives in Minneapolis, worked in advertising before becoming a consultant. “He’s a very silly man,” says client Mike Veeck, son of legendary Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, and co-owner, with comedian Bill Murray, of the St. Paul Saints and Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs minor-league baseball teams. “Al understands that we should laugh more—and he makes us do that.”
One way he does that is by his innovative pricing structure for Innovation on Demand. The book costs $20, but if you want it autographed, it’s only $18.