We have an independent book store in town that isn’t quite as quaint as the stock photo above. But it’s an independent bookstore and I believe strongly in frequenting such places. If there is any hope in keeping these stores afloat, those of us who spend way more money on books than we should, need to spend some (if not all) of those dollars at independent bookstores.
That being said, I get my feathers pretty ruffled by many of the decisions the store’s proprietors make. While I understand that they need to pay the bills, I don’t understand why they claim to be a book store and again and again invite “fauthors” (my term for celebrity authors- fake authors- ‘fauthors’) to book signings. The message that these events send feels all wrong to me.
Last week, the Kardashians were in town to sign ‘their’ book. Mind you, the following comes from a person who might happen to stumble upon Keeping up with the Kardashians every so often. A person who might happen to watch an episode or two if her television somehow finds the show all on it’s own. But I was appalled to learn that a crowd of 4,000 was predicted for the book signing. Seriously. A rainy day and perhaps some common sense resulted in the number of attendees being closer to 700. Now, we watch the Kardashians for complete mind-free entertainment. That is television. Not reading. Yet a bookstore brought in 700 people for these ‘fauthors.’ Seriously.
And then, on Saturday a good friend of mine organized an international storytelling event at this same book store. The event was designed to be part pre-school fundraiser/part storytelling and crafts for the kids. The event was attended by a handful of people. And I don’t mean a magical hand that can hold 700 people. I mean a regular old handful. The same store that drew 700 people for the Kardashians drew a handful of people for an international storytelling event complete with books and crafts.
I have been thinking a lot lately about where we put our time and energy as a society. I am in the process of creating a fantastic program (if I do say so myself!) for my Books as Gifts class at our community school (click here for more information). And do you know how many people registered for it so far? Let’s just say, if you guessed 700, you would be wrong.
So I challenge myself and all of us to put our energy where it should go. We all complain about our lack of time but let’s choose to spend it in thoughtful places. And I don’t mean that you need to sign up for my class. That is not the point of this at all, really. It is a reminder that we embrace what we value and put our time and energy there.
I wonder if this means the next time I am tempted to catch up with the Kardashians that I should read a book? I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it means…
What a great post Stacey. I’d sign up for your program if I could. Keeping true to one’s ideals can be hard work sometimes (eg having the strength not to turn on the tv when you’re exhausted in the evening and it seems like a bit of blah in front of the box would less demanding than reading), but it seems to me, ultimately it is easier to put our energy where we think it matters – I feel so much better when I live the life I feel I ought to be leading – when my actions are aligned with my values a lot of tension fades away.
BTW have you thought about turning your Books as Gifts into an online unit?
i totally agree … it’s also sickening to think how much money these “authors” make just by putting their name on a cover. when i learned that snooki was atop the bestseller list i got a little sick, especially when i heard that she’d never even read a book.
BUT … if you look for a silver lining … at least events like this get people to a bookstore. at least they’re reading something — and isn’t something better than nothing (most of the time)? that probably sounds a bit condescending and i don’t mean it to … but maybe the kardashian book can be a “gateway” book to bigger and better literature. AND, these events like these rake in a ton of $ for these bookstores, who can then take the funds and use them for far more important purposes, like under-funded programs.
Right on, Stacey! That’s why I shop the school book fair with my kids every year — to steer them away from the junk and towards wonderful chapter books that seem to sit sadly in their displays, untouched.