After reading an article published in the Author Daily Discovery, I was inspired to write a post about bookstores and their importance in our lives. The article states that author James Patterson recently donated money to a number of independent bookstores in the UK and Ireland. More specifically, it says, “More than £130,000 has been allocated to 73 independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland in the first round of grants funded on this side of the Atlantic by author James Patterson (Shaffi, Sarah. Patterson awards grants to 73 Indie bookshops, 9-25-14).
They were impressed that the donations came from this side of the “pond” or the Atlantic. The goal is to help struggling bookstores that encourage children to read. “For the lucky 73 shops, the James Patterson money will make a real difference to how they reach children and encourage them to read” (Shaffi).
I was reminded of several things as I thought about my own literary walk or journey. When a good, solid job could not be found during one phase of my life, I ended up working at Waldenbooks in Tennessee. This one job as a bookseller led to many wonderful experiences and exposure to a whole new world.
My assigned sections were religion, self-help and romance. As Robert Frost wrote in his poem, “The Road Not Taken, ““I took the one less traveled by; and that has made all the difference.” Those three subject areas have become prevalent themes in my novellas.
During my stint there, I had to read in order to be a top bookseller. I could not recommend a book that I had not read and simply say it was a good book. I needed to do a quick book talk to make the sale. Of course, I could not read everything, but I read a lot of new stuff, hot off the press. My mother and I read the new novels that I brought home from the store on loan. We had a reading jubilee on a regular basis!
The little ladies would await the new editions of the Harlequin romances with anticipation. They would come with their little shopping bags waiting for them to be shelved. I watched as they checked the copyright page to make sure that it was the newest edition of a series. That was funny. But, they left as happy campers.
Working at the bookstore was a rich experience. It was located in a mall and there were always fun activities going on such as art fairs, many colorful displays and animated presentations. Retail work is quite a different animal because the hours can be challenging, but as in any endeavor, there is always fruit to be garnered or collected.
I went back to teaching at some juncture, but I did work at two other bookstores in that area. Seeing the smiles of satisfied customers or having the joy of wrapping up their choices during the Christmas season was fulfilling in itself. I met people from all walks of life and laughed with staff that looked to humor when things became a bit too stressful.
Bookstores are unique places that are becoming increasingly harder to find. I know that the UK and Ireland will appreciate the money donated by James Patterson for the independent bookstores. I recently traveled to a Barnes and Noble bookstore and it was refreshing to have time to browse and make selections. I did not have any particular titles in mind, but two books seemed to be calling my name.
I am currently enjoying a book called Perfect Peace, by an author that is new to me. The ability to browse helped me leave with this new prize. Ordering online is a quick and convenient way to get my hands on a book, if I know what I want. But if I really want to pick up a book, handle it and read the blurb, I need to enter that actual space of a bookstore.
I have recently read a host of e-books and I like using my Kindle and Nook apps, but a bookstore is like a library. Virtual space is fine but absolutely nothing takes the place of being in a building with shelves of books. The smaller and independent bookstores have an added flavor because each has its own unique character, personality and ambience.
Some very creative spaces are being funded through Patterson’s donation. “There are some really exciting projects that this money will help get off the ground, from converting a van into a mobile school bookshop to running a model train around the shop to get kids engaged” (Shaffi).
Kudos to James Patterson! He is helping to keep those browsing spaces alive and well!
Lynn September 27, 2014