I am a reader. And if I find out you aren’t a reader, I basically start acting like someone who goes door-to-door handing out pamphlets that go right into the recycling bin. I can go on and on about the benefits: the escape from reality, the never-ending learning (about the world and about yourself), even the feeling of accomplishment when you turn that last page. I’ve seen your eyes glaze over, you smile and nod when I give you unsolicited book suggestions. I want everyone to BELIEVE in reading and can’t see myself ever giving up the good fight! Though I suppose it’s akin to encouraging someone to start going to the gym…that you can’t imagine not working out (maybe SOMEDAY I will buy running shoes, but at this point I can see myself cowering beside a weight machine clicking my heels and repeating “there’s no place like home”). People often just have to find their own way.
For me, even though I have gone through phases of my life where the only book I could get through was Dora Flies to the Moon, I always identified as “a reader,” one with piles of books everywhere. I tried the whole Kobo or downloading books onto the tablet thing. For two reasons I couldn’t make the switch: 1) you can’t tell how much of the chapter or book you have left and this is important to me….even though it’s already 11pm, should I keep reading?….and 2) I thoroughly enjoy the weight of a book in my hands and don’t even get me started on the smell, I’m not ashamed to admit that if it’s fresh from Chapters I cradle it and have some bonding time before cracking the spine (though I have dedicated 2017 to only utilizing libraries and used books stores, but more about that later).
In fact, if you have a peek at my Instagram account @mleprout (and please do…this is a total plug, as I am trying to get to 1000 followers, though will be satisfied for a few hours if I reach 700), it may even give the indication that I review books, which I do not. I simply love posting what I’m reading (especially if the author’s done a bang on job captivating me) so that it may inspire others to pick up the book as well.
As for where I get my books, I am conflicted about where my values and loyalties lie. In my heart I want to support the author, however it would be disastrous for libraries and used book stores to go the way of music stores, so I have decided to be that one more person in the community to show some consistent library love. Some may know that my dream job growing up was to be a librarian (I mean who doesn’t want to take off their glasses and shake out their hair revealing a “who-would-have-known” vixen?! #kiddingnotkidding) I actually turned my collection of Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High and R.L. Stine books into a functioning library in my youth, making my friends sign them out…some of them likely have outstanding fines (my memoir entitled “How To Be Super Cool As A Preteen” comes out later this year).
To help me sort through my feelings on the different avenues available to fuel my reading passion, I chatted with Alison Dunn of Beggar’s Banquet Books, my favourite place to visit on a rainy Saturday morning, or a sunny one for that matter, here in my beloved town:
Canadian public libraries give royalties to authors, through the Public Lending Right Program. This is in no way comparable to individual book sales, but it attempts to acknowledge the importance of book sales to writers. Countries with strong library systems have higher numbers of readers overall; clearly their contribution to literacy and accessibility is important.
That said, the author gets the largest royalty payment from a new book, and none at all for the re-sale of a used book.
So why would you buy a used book?
Affordability – Not everyone can afford a new book, or a new book every few days or weeks.
Availability – a used bookstore can stock a wider range and type of books, so you might discover an author you didn’t know about before. And then, you might buy their next book new.
Browsing – a used bookstore offers unique opportunities to engage readers, inspire reluctant readers – that $3.95 mystery doesn’t seem like such a gamble as a $36.95 new book.
Expertise – book store owners (especially used books) are passionate about books and stories. Nobody is in it for the money. Talk to us about what you’ve loved or been bored by – I guarantee we can help you find something you will enjoy. We can help you out of a reading rut, or indulge you in your favourite author.
What if you want the newest book? At BBB, our combination of new and used books can get you what want. By selling new and used books, we can offer more variety, better prices on older titles and access to the new releases too. In this small town, we also do dozens of special orders every week – no need to go to the city for the book you want!
In our model, authors get royalties on new books, readers get bargains on used books and everyone gets individual assistance with choosing books – but only if they want it.
Unlike Amazon etc, we can tell you stories, you can tell us stories, we can have impromptu book clubs, discussions and sharing. We even give away free books outside, when we have extra or less than ideal condition books – nobody who wants to read will leave here empty handed!
We also support authors by inviting them to the store for reading and signing events, supporting writers festivals, illustrator events, and building publisher relationships. When we meet the writers and get to know them, we can always sell more of their books – our enthusiasm is contagious.
Bookstore gift certificates make wonderful gifts – we sold lots to parents for teacher gifts in June. They support the bookstore, the authors, and the individual choices of the readers. The best book is the book that actually gets read!
Hearing all of this from Alison makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! Especially when she made me realize I wouldn’t be able to afford purchasing all the books I go through brand new, but it’s certainly nice to do from time to time, and when it’s a new release you can’t wait for! Alison also nailed it with that last sentence, as long as the love of reading continues to flourish we are all the better for it.
And it’s so important to pass this love of reading onto my children. I’ve even told my seven-year-old son who has recently impressed me with the NOVELS he is choosing to read, that he can stay up as late as he wants to read books instead of zoning out on his tablet, no need to hide with a flashlight in our house!
I hope I’ve kickstarted someone’s journey into the reading world, because really, it makes your whole world grow. Need help getting started? I’ve listed some of my favourite books below, start googling and make up a list!
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The Mountain Story by Lori Lansing
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
The Door to December by Dean Koontz
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Slammerkin by Emma Donaghue
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
……ok now I’m REALLY going back in time…..soooo many!
And if you are local to Gananoque, head over to Beggar’s Banquet Books!!
126 King St. East