ODD’S ‘N ENDS….

This may ramble a bit…for that I apologize. I can’t seem to stay on task today.

award

As most of you know At Second Glance Books in Kamloops closed the doors on Saturday, December 1st, joining the record shops and most of the video shops in the city. We leave three used book stores to continue the fight and we wish them success. We have always been the go-to book shop and people would come to us before they went anywhere else. We have been the “Readers Choice” for best Second Hand Book store since the local paper created the category and, in the undulating universe of cosmic coincidence, we received the award for 2012…on the mourning of our last day.

Last Thursday a woman walked up to the counter and bought my book, White Wolf Moon. She said she’d been looking all over for it…a friend of hers had recommended it. I rang the sale through and asked if she wanted me to sign it. I received the strangest glare as she asked why she would want me to. I flipped through to the author photo, we had a laugh and I signed it for her. I asked what her friend had said about it and I got a slightly different answer than I’ve grown accustomed to getting. It was the thought behind some of Evan’s comments…the philosophies…that her friend had identified with. The customer asked (a) why I’d written it, (b) were those thoughts mine, (c) how much of it was biographical?

(a) Because I wanted to

(b) Pretty much

(c) More than I care to admit

I could certainly expand on those answers and I’ll probably do so in upcoming blogs but my mind has wandered again.

I’ve had friends tell me they’d love to read my book…if I had an extra copy I could give them. One of them paints houses. I asked if he would paint my house for free. Of course he wouldn’t. He works hard painting houses and his time is valuable. I told him that’s why I don’t give away copies of my book. He really couldn’t see how this was the same thing.

Most self-published writers aren’t in it for the money. If it comes then great…but it isn’t why we do what we do. We do it because we have something to say and whether we speak through a fictional character or in a non-fictional manner, we get our thoughts out there. We do it because we want to. We appreciate the recognition of those who are willing to spend their money on something we’ve created. Those of us that aren’t retired generally have a job away from those drafts to help support this writing habit. It isn’t money in the bank but every compliment, every press clipping, every radio interview or book signing makes it all worthwhile. The experience of publishing White Wolf Moon has been one of the most delightful rides I’ve ever been on and just when it appears to be slowing down, it picks up again. Some might say it all goes to feed the ego (and I agree) but after going through everything it takes to write a book and get it published I think I deserve a little ego-stroking.

On the other hand, to quote Evan Morris…“I’m too great a man to have an ego….”

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REAL BOOK FOLKS

08

Tomorrow is the final day for At Second Glance Books, a store that has been my second home for a dozen or so years. This past week we have been selling our stock at 10 for the price of 1. This automatically increases the traffic at the till but the increased customer count isn’t the only thing that has slowed down our normally efficient service. It’s the real book folks who just want to spend a few extra minutes chatting and finding out why we’re closing and telling us how sad it all is.

Book folks, real book folks, are a wonderful lot. I can probably count on one hand the number of growly customers I’ve served over the last 12 years. Real book folks like to chat, to laugh, and sometimes just hang out and browse. They bring you coffee and sometimes doughnuts. I joked with a woman who bought a book of pizza recipes. I told her that part of the obligation was that she bring us a sample so that we can verify that we’re selling quality books. That was one great pizza! I did the same with a girl, probably twelve, who bought a kids cookie recipe book. Two days later I had a big bag of really terrific chocolate chip cookies personally delivered with my name on it.

One fella, another regular customer who lives on a farm well out of town, bought my book White Wolf Moon a few weeks ago. He came straight to the counter and didn’t look around the store at all. He knows I usually only work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and he’d made a special trip into Kamloops just to shake my hand and to tell me how much he’d enjoyed the story.

The regulars probably number in the hundreds. They all pretty much know my name…I can remember most. They’re coming in and feeling guilty and sad that they’re taking advantage of the sale. I’m happy they are. I know the books are going to people who want them…the people I’m truly going to miss. We’ve had other regional used book store owners come in to beef up their inventory. That’s cool too, and we wish them well.

We have also seen a different type of customer lately. The bargain hunter…so many people I’ve never seen before. I recognize a couple of them that have dealer tables at the flea market so I’m pretty sure of where those books are going. One even admitted she was stocking up for her spring yard sale. 10 for the price of 1 is a bargain but we still have people asking if they can get a better deal if they buy 30. One lady figured I should be retro-active and give her a better deal because she came in and bought a lot of books when they were 4 for 1 and I should have told her that eventually they’d be 10 for 1. It’s a totally different mentality…vultures trying to pick the last ounce of flesh from the bones.

But the biggest difference with the real book people? Generally their questions center around what going to happen to us, the staff. What will we be doing when the store closes and the like. The bargain people and dealers want to know what we’re going to do with the books when the store closes…one even suggested that he could take them off our hands, at no charge of course. He was also one of the customers who felt that 10 for the price of 1 was unreasonable…they should be 10 for $1.00. He didn’t buy any.

Mostly the books have homes…schools will be getting them and local charities, who will sell them as fund-raisers. They’ll go to the right people.

As for me…I’ll retire, write my sequel, and try to keep up with this blog.

I’m working tomorrow. I don’t usually work Saturdays, mostly because I don’t like working Saturdays…but tomorrow I’ll be there for the last shift of the day…the last shift. For whatever reason I want to be the one that turns out the lights and locks those doors for the last time.

Goodnight…At Second Glance….

ONE DOOR CLOSES…

The above photo shows my poster for “White Wolf Moon” in the window of a Kamloops bookshop. I’ve spent the last twelve years of my life sorting, shelving, and selling books there. Now I have my own book in the store. Ironically one of the signs beneath my poster was put up at about the same time. A further irony is that At Second Glance Books is featured as a scene in “White Wolf Moon”.
Is this an example of one door closing and another opening? If so, it’s a lousy example.
A bookshop closing, any bookshop, is sad. It’s easy to say “well, it’s just testament to the times and the technology…time to move on…” but having been behind the counter and experiencing the social atmosphere of a bookshop I can tell you it isn’t that easy. Bookshops are where people meet, compare notes on titles or authors and, more importantly, interact with each other…and the staff. It’s a true social network, one on one, face to face.
I have become friends with some of the regular customers and the news we would be closing the doors has fostered some pretty emotional responses. The obvious first question is ‘why?’ and while there may be many answers we could offer, the simplest and most accurate is…it’s time.
There will always be books, real books, and there will always be some courageous individual behind the counter of a small bookshop tucked away on some side-street. I, for one, will be seeking them out.
I’m getting ready to head to work. I’ve just seen a copy of the Downtown Echo, a local newspaper. A week ago they ran an article about the store closing…today I’m looking at the front page…the full front page. There I am, photo and all, promoting my book.
One door closes….