Tag Archives: C-Span

Romantic Math

As incongruous as these two concepts may seem, bookslingers everywhere recognize the term: romances are to used book stores what fleas are to dog. What glitches are to healthcare.gov. What adverbs are to bad writers.

Jack and I began reducing our romances stock this fall, from their own outbuilding called The Luv Shack to four shelves inside. The goal was to get them down to a single, double-stacked shelf. And that’s when the laws of romantic math kicked in:

  • The number of old romances you box up to recycle, donate, or even dumpster after dark when the neighbors aren’t watching equals the number still on the shelves. In other words, the more you box, the more there are in your store.

    Spot the Bookseller

    Spot the Bookseller in this photo?

  • The more you reduce the price of your romances, the fewer people will buy them. “NOW ON CLEARANCE,  3 for $1!” goes to “10 for $1” slides to “$5 per box!” Yesterday I looked at two women paying for their cafe lunch and said “How’d you like a free box of romances each to take with you?” Their eyes grew wide with alarm and they all but raced out the door. They’re probably on Topix now, telling potential cafe customers: “Don’t go in there! They foist books off on you!”
  • The number of shirtless hunks lounging on–or under–the covers equals eternity–which is how long it will take you to box them. Don’t look. Laughing weakens your muscles.
  • The mere act of announcing on social media that you are reducing your romances stock will cause every Tina, Dot, and Harriet to bring you boxes of them. They take it personally when you say no: you’re rejecting romance? From them? It’s a delicate negotiation.
  • The amount of time you spend sorting books into families will exponentially expand as the number of books reduces. It takes awhile to realize those little icons alleged to make it easier for readers to see which series they want (like the spade and heart on maxi-pad packages, only different) are cross-referenced. “THIS SEASON: MAITLAND MATERNITY RETURNS TO TYLER WITH THE NEXT MCCORMICK BROTHERS FOR ROYAL WEDDINGS!” Give it up. Once you understand that cowboys are undercover sheiks and time-traveling Scotsmen are undercover Special Forces–there’s a lot of undercover in romances, tee hee–it becomes one big muddle. Plus that’s four hours of your life you’ll never get back again.
  • And last but not least, the laugh-out-loud stupidity of any given title you come across will be squared by the next title. I thought “Vampire under the Mistletoe” was the winner this year, until I found this little gem hiding at the back of a shelf:DSCN0278

Happy Christmas, everyone, and may the love in your life keep you warm!


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

A Tonic for Perspective Restoration

Jack and I drove from Nashville to our home sweet bookstore on Sunday, dumped our disorganized clutch of luggage, and began sorting laundry, book purchases (from the Southern Festival of the Book and just the one bookstore we stopped at on the way home, heh) and other trip detritus.

My purse wasn’t there.

I’d barely had time to launch a full-blown panic attack when the phone rang. A woman named Sabrina Hensley said she found my purse in the rest room where I’d left it, and would mail it Tuesday when the post office opened after Columbus Day. I told her to take money out of the purse to mail it and to buy herself lunch, but she declined.

Thank you, Ms. Hensley. You are a true mensch.

That was our first return to reality post-festival, but the best was yet to come. A whole lot of people had read the blog, friended us on Facebook, liked the bookstore and cafe, and we enjoyed reading through your comments and stories. We meant it, what I said on C-span about a connected community of bibliophiles and bookstore supporters, here, there and everywhere, and we admit it made us feel good that so many people responded positively on Twitter and FB et al. We went to bed basking in the glow of small-time celebrity.

Monday morning, I woke up five minutes late for a ride-share to an important meeting. As I raced up the stairs our foster cat Ernest Hemingway tripped me, and I grabbed him around the middle–perhaps the wee bit roughly, because he pee-bombed my foot.

It was fun being driven around Nashville and invited to the authors’ reception in the penthouse suite, with that incredible view of the city. It was tres cool not to get embarrassed by the autograph lines. (Book festivals usually line several authors up side-by-side so odds are good you’ll be next to Bill Bryson and his line will extend three times ’round the courtyard while the rest of us sit there twiddling our thumbs, avoiding eye contact. I brought crocheting to cover this contingency, but never got a chance to work on it–whew!) It was great to get to chat with so many people who’d read and loved Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.

Still, nothing restores perspective quite so quickly as getting pee-bombed on your bare foot by a foster kitten.

Back to what we love doing, then: shelving books, serving customers, killing spiders and all, we love our bookstore and our life in it. Y’all come see us. I promise to have Ernest Hemingway fully potty trained before he sits in your lap.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing