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Buy books from the people who write them.

February 17, 2011 \am\28 9:44 am

This morning’s paper (yes, we still get the local daily newspaper delivered) informed us that both Borders stores within reasonable driving distance of us are closing. I went to both on occasion. Not as much as I used to, NOT because I buy online, but because I don’t have the same disposable income to spend on books as I used to.

We don’t have any small independent bookstores in our area, other than used and/or closeout type stores. There is a Barnes and Noble, but that’s way aways and I’m rarely over in the area where it is, and ours isn’t all that great. I will have to drive almost an hour to get to some decent bookstores (in New Haven).

But last night, at our weekly Wednesday Night Poetry Series, I bought a handful of books from the authors (Brian Clements & Nii Ayikwei Parkes). That’s how I buy most of my books anymore. I get them signed. I can open them up and read them anytime I feel like and I can remember the event where I made my purchase. I can remember a voice reading. That means something to me.

I don’t know. Even if the author makes no more money selling the book directly at readings than otherwise, it’s got to be more emotionally satisfying. That counts for something, right? I remember reading about Jonathan Papernick selling his books direct, out of a cart. I seem to recall he didn’t make much, but it was an experience for him. Plus he got some press.

This is just a rant. I would love to see a new independent bookstore open up in our area now. They have survived in areas where the megalobookstorasaurus never made inroads. Yeah, right now is probably not the time to open any small business unless you can survive on roots and berries and the random squirrel. But still.

And as much as folks scream Kindle, Kindle, Kindle, there’s something that will be missing and that’s connection. That’s what we’ll have to find a replacement for.

Okay, this dinosaur is going back to finish reading that almost obsolete method of getting the news.

  1. February 17, 2011 \pm\28 5:45 pm 5:45 pm

    While I do buy most of my books at independent bookstores, sometimes online — and have some of my work published on Kindles, I agree that nothing will beat the intimacy of buying a book from the author’s hand.

    It’s part of the poetics of a reading. The set up. The tables with postcards for upcoming readings, the chapbooks of all the night’s readers. I have not forgotten a single moment when I handed someone a ten dollar bill for their small press chapbook. And I know it will be a similar experience on the other end when mine is published.

    Did you know about Stephen Elliott’s DIY book tour for The Adderall Diaries? It took that kind of intimacy to another level – he gave readings in people’s houses throughout the country, slept on their couches, then pan-handled the books to the number of people the hosts had to guarantee would show up for it to be an official reading. An interesting, extremely intimate, approach. Most people did not treat him as a writer, but as a human, wanting to know more about the characters in the book, about his father — since it is nonfiction.

    He wrote about it for the Times:

  2. Robin Elizabeth Sampson permalink
    February 17, 2011 \pm\28 6:20 pm 6:20 pm

    Yeah, not only did I know about it, but our series was one of the stops on Stephen’s tour, and one of the more infamous ones at that. From his book tour notes.
    I wrote a very long blog post about it too.

    When is your book coming out Hannah?

  3. February 17, 2011 \pm\28 11:31 pm 11:31 pm

    Just caught up on both — though I had read the book notes from that stop before and failed to make the connection. Small world.

    I enjoyed the recap. Even the problems with the store owner speak volumes about the many barricades guarding that open place where we can just share our shit, write, read, communicate, and make somewhat of a living off of it.

    That’s a good question actually, Robin. The book was funded on Kickstarter, and I am working on it while going to grad school, working as a librarian part-time and freelance writing. I generally try to dedicate one morning a week to its completion. My goal is to have it finished by the end of 2011. I want to self-bind and hand stamp. And finally be able to add to that table at readings, that intimacy you write about.

  4. Robin Elizabeth Sampson permalink
    February 18, 2011 \am\28 10:32 am 10:32 am

    Yeah, places to read seem to be constantly in flux. Ha! Just realized that I’ve read at two different Borders stores (years ago). One of them is closing and the other not. Hmmm. I’ve never really liked the atmosphere at readings in the big stores (also Barnes & Noble) – and they don’t like poets selling their own books – it’s a very hush hush, slip a fiver, get a book kinda thing.

    Reading about the domino effect this is gonna have (the Borders thing), makes me think that the writers themselves are gonna have to be responsible for getting their words out, if they really want them out.

    Okay, it’s too early in the morning for such deep wonderings.

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