Once in a while I get invited to dinner with an author before their reading at our store. Jon Mayes, our Publishers Group West sales rep, invited me to dinner with the author of the evening Patti Callahan Henry. Her latest novel (the first one based on a life experience) And then I Found You was a delight. I stayed up till 12:48 am to make sure that Patti gave the blessing kiss to the ending of this story.
During dinner we found out that we share some interesting life facts--we were brought up in a Calvinist philosophy, we both have major birthdays (not the same major) this year and her last name Henry is the same as my mother’s maiden name Imre (in Hungarian). I do think we have a really good chance of remaining friends and I will read everything she recommends and writes from now on. If only I could meet and get to know all the authors that I need to read. I will actively support their work by recommending it to you, my favorite readers at the store and our friends who can only reach us by www.malaprops.com to order their books.
Folks who (tourists mainly) have come to our store for the first time repeatedly say that “Oh, my! This is a real bookstore!” I am happy that they feel this way since we really are a REAL bookstore but it also gives me pause. Where do they live to be saying this? Surely not Chapel Hill/Durham where the Regulator and Flyleaf Books reign as REAL bookstores and nearby Quail Ridge Books & Music and McIntyres. But this is North Carolina and I am happy to say we are rich in real bookstores.
I was at an educational task force meeting with the American Booksellers Association and our two days were full of valuable conversations about how we can better serve our reading community. Another part of our program involved celebrating Algonquin Books' 30th anniversary with Lee Smith, who gave a short but really good reading from her new book, Guests on Earth, about Asheville and the famous Highland Hospital fire. I am not going to tell you more of that story since I highly recommend you come and meet her at her event in the fall at Malaprop's.
I along with Alsace and Julian spoke to an audience at the Reuter Center about the history of Malaprop’s and the challenges that small independent businesses like ours face in this economic reality. I've come to realize that our most important challenge is to communicate to all serious readers that we indie bookstores are the backbone of the cultural scene in the country. If you ignore us it is like the Giving Tree story...and karma being what it is I would recommend reading Giving Tree again and take the lesson to heart.
I am filled with hope that our community is a leading community in preserving what is most important, “instead of saving two dollars, let’s give the cultural future of our children a chance.” Please do not outsource that future! Be modern and read, travel and keep good neighbors close by supporting them.