I remember, about a thousand years ago when I was a tech writer for an industrial security firm. The site manager came to me and said, I want you to write a procedure. This one's going to be quick and easy. No Guns on site. That's all it needs to say. It actually turned out to be about 8 pages long. Sure, no guns on site for normal employees. But, what about the exceptions to that rule (like police) and how those exceptions are both recognized and handled. Then, there's the question of what do we do when someone actually brings a gun onto the campus. And, how handling a hunter who left his rifle in his truck maybe should be different than someone sneaking a glock 9mm in his lunch box.
We should sponsor writing groups and book clubs. Sure. But, it's not as easy as it probably sounds, at first. That's because, when you think of a book club, you think of the books that you love... not the 25 other genre options that you're not even remotely interested in. As the bookshop, I have to be a little more inclusive. I also need to be sensitive to different needs: reading level, time commitmentment, scheduling, cost. It's a lot of work. And, a lot of pre-planning before the work.
But, this week-end, I committed to tackling it, after reading reams of articles and surveying more than a dozen online book club websites. I think we've got something that we can at least launch from.
Take a look, and let me know what you think!
Then, if you can think of anyone you believe might like to be involved, please pass the word along!
... and instill a love of reading.
I think my favorite exercise, as a writer, is to make up a story based off of an image. A picture, by itself, they say, is worth a thousand words. But, when that picture is designed to represent a story, it's worth about 50,000 words.
We do it, almost automatically, in our minds. Why is this person here? What is he doing? What's going to happen next?
Except, we stop ourselves. The story has already has already been told. If we want to know what it's about, we just have to open the book and read it.... right?
A good author understands that he or she can't really tell the whole story. The unfolding is really a partnership between the author and the reader. The author provides a framework, a roadmap. The reader creates for his or herself all the detailed experiences along the way. We typically do this alone, in our minds. But, unlike any other media, a book can allow two people to share their unique experience along a common path.
It works great with kids. They have no inhibitions about exploring the unknown together. Adults have gotten used to being led by the hand: to be passive in their relationship to an information source. But, imagine sitting down together with someone you really like. Pick up a paperback that has an interesting image on the cover. Then, ask, out loud, who do you suppose this person is? Then, let the conversation explode with evaluation, speculation, fantasy and imagination. Regardless of what you may get to know about the story in the book, you'll get to know a lot more of the story in this other person.
We bought the bookshop from Jan Kern, Jan's Books, in August of 2016.
Jan had been through a lot over the past couple of years. Her son, who worked together with her in the store, had recently died. Her husband, Bob, had serious health problems, and we would discover during the two weeks that we worked together that she had contracted cancer for the seventh time.
My wife, Wendy, and I had talked about buying the bookstore, sorta dreaming, actually. But, I walked into the shop one day and she was holding the phone against her cheek with tears in her eyes and an utter look of despair. For the third time, someone who had said they wanted to buy the store couldn't get the financing together, so the deal fell through.
For the last few years, I had been working with small businesses in the community, helping them to understand the way the internet is becoming an essential component of how business is conducted. It's not that digital marketing and an on-line presence is addition to the way they have to business, or that it is replacing traditional shopping; but, rather, it is changing everything. I had been preaching to local businesses how they need to adapt in order to be successful. The bookstore opportunity was an opportunity for me to demonstrate what I've been talking about.
My family is a family of readers. Books are just a part of who we are. Our weekly visits to Lebanon Public Library yielded an average of 50 books per week. Now, myself, I tend to prefer non-fiction: religious, business, history, biographies. Wendy, and most of the kids really enjoy fiction (particularly sci-fi and fantasy). Barb, Wendy's Mom lives with us, reads mostly romance with an occasional jaunt into the world of crime and suspense. Between us, we have a pretty good grasp on the literature landscape. Though, if you'd have asked me before we jumped into this amazing industry, we would have had a lot more confidence than we do now.
There are over 900 million books currently in print today. According to Forbes Magazine, there are between 600,000 and 1 million books published every year. With 50,000 books in our inventory, you'd think (off hand) that we've got a pretty good representation. That's what we thought, at first. But, we've realized that our role is not to have every book available in the world- just like the local jewelry store makes no attempt at having every conceivable design. Our job is to find something that matches your tastes and interests at an affordable price. And if you know just what you're looking for, we'll do whatever we can to help you find it.