Chapters – I

C01NOTE: So, I should point out here at the beginning that I’ve decided to go with the title Chapters for this series of blog posts. I suppose nearly any of the stand alone posts could fit under this category, but I think I’ll try to keep these with where there is a humorous complaint or comment. Searching the web I’ve discovered several other sites to tap when this current crop, originally listed back on 4/25, is depleted. And when the time arrives, I can switch to something else. Enjoy!

***

I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

Maybe it should also state in the brochure that the store doesn’t sell dinette sets or Corvettes either.

Come on, be reasonable.

***

Anyway, this had me thinking about bookstores and how many people enjoy visiting the large spacious stores with two floors, a coffee shop, bakery, auto mechanic, and shelves upon shelves of novelty items that have nothing to do with books. In the store of which I’m thinking that shall remained unnamed unless you can figure out this complicated code: arnes-Bay & oble-Nay, I actually saw a box containing a screen the size of an average laptop with a small paintbrush. Apparently the goal is for to paint with the brush anything you want. A few seconds later, the picture magically disappears and you can begin again. This is supposed to help you relax after your stressful day…for only $39.95.

First, I wouldn’t be relaxed after shelling out that kind of dough for a modern version of an Etch-a-Sketch. Second, I wouldn’t be relaxed after concentrating on the perfect picture only to have it go away. I’d be prone to throwing the palette out the nearest open window.

My point is that in these types of bookstores you can find a lot of things. However, many times I feel overwhelmed because, well, I love bookstores. In fact many times, the manager is on the verge of calling the police at closing time because I won’t leave even though I’ve spent the past nine hours roaming the aisles I haven’t looked at every single book and I may want to refresh my memory on one particular shelf. I may not buy anything, although I’ll see several carts full of potential books I WANT to buy but have enough sense not to make my Mastercard scream in pain any more than it already does.

Here in Des Moines, is a store called ½ Price Books where the books cost-now follow me here-half the regular price. Or more in some cases, even more, namely on the clearance shelves. What I really enjoy about this store is some of the collectibles I can’t find anywhere but on eBay or regular book sales at the fairgrounds or the mall. I find many of the novels I’m missing in a series. Plus, they buy books. They only give you maybe .000001 cent per book when you know could sell it on the aforementioned eBay for $4.50 plus $6.50 shipping and get more from the gullible buyer than you originally paid for the book, but at least the store offers some pittance for you to trade in read books. (As opposed to wrapping them in plastic and putting them in boxes which then clutter up your parents’ basement. Not saying I do that…okay, I do, but you don’t have to is my point.)

Then there are the independent bookstores found in many towns large and small. Here you find some of the popular novels but you may find some books written by local authors. At one store I have visited several times, they have an entire wall dedicated to Iowa authors. In these stores, the selection isn’t that large but like the bigger places, they will order books for you. And you may find some novelty books such as the cookbook I saw recently called “Pumpkins” which was in the shape of, you guessed it, a watermelon. No, seriously, it was orange and round and textured, roughly like a pumpkin.

The ‘indie’ stores are more willing to work with ‘indie’ authors on selling the ‘indie’ published books. Usually, the stores take a commission and send the author whenever a book is sold.

I’ve heard from many publishers that people should patronize these indie bookstores and I agree. First off, if you have one in your town, that makes it local and you don’t have to drive to the big bad city to buy a book. Plus, if you’re Internet savvy (and you’d have to be somewhat intelligent to have navigated to this blog) then most of these stores have websites where you can order a book and then pick it up at the store.

As the Ebook explosion is coursing through the world, some, if not most of the indie store are going E.

I did experience frustration with one particular store as the E-wave started crashing, in that they were unsure of the E-market so they didn’t want to risk having me do an author appearance (my first two books are exclusively eBooks) because they didn’t know how successful the event would be. Okay fine, but then not six months later they had a guest speaker in to have a discussion on…eBooks and how wonderful they are. If I had not had another commitment that day, I would have hung around outside handing out bookmarks. “Hey, now that you’ve heard the talk, here are a couple of books to try out.”

And maybe it’s just me, but I’ve also had problems scheduling events with indie bookstores. “Oh, we’re planning on an authors’ fair later this year. Let’s get you in on that” I’ve heard that twice and both failed to materialize.

I think the problem is that a lot of times, the indies don’t have enough time to properly promote the author. They love for them to come in, don’t misunderstand me, but attendance is usually low (or zero in my one time event) and space will be limited. For a book signing during the Christmas rush I was placed in a chair blocking the entrance to a section of books with a plastic table to display my books measuring one foot square and shorter than the average lawn gnome’s kneecaps. People were looking at me liked I’d pooped on the carpet or bending over so they could peer at my book, then looking at me like I’d pooped on the carpet. Most of them just ignored me because they didn’t know why I was there. My one benefit was, I managed to get two solid hours of writing accomplished.

Please don’t think I’m trashing indie bookstores. I love them. I love bookstores and I think that if you see an author is appearing at one, please attend and listen. You don’t have to buy his/her book, but at least show the bookstore that somebody cares enough to attend. That way they’ll be more inclined to have more authors visit and that’s a win for all of us.

You might learn something from the authors. They might be interesting. The ones with whom I associate are. Plus, while you’re in the indie store, you might find some surprises. The hand-woven bookmark. A special clip-on book light that doubles as a clock. Or you may find a title you never expected to see like, “47 Uses For Pantyhose.”

(I assume you already know about putting a pair over your head when you rob a bank.)

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