"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." Jerry Seinfeld


Evidence 007: Kindle Users

I love working with Joanna on Wednesday nights. We usually end up laughing and joking with ourselves and our customers more than we reshelve books. Last week was no exception - Joanna and I both had customers and the four of us were carrying on a conversation. My customer was returning a copy of Sarah's Key, explaining that there was nothing wrong with the book but she already had a copy...and had read it...on her Kindle.

I got quiet and Joanna glanced at me, knowing the secret hatred I hold for the Kindle. Even her customer got quiet. Mine, however, continued to chat about her Kindle. "It's a wonderful book. I really enjoyed reading it on my Kindle. Is that what I put here in the 'reason for return' box -- 'read it on my Kindle'? I think I'll put that" (she begins to write) "" I was silent through the entire rest of the transaction. As I pushed her return receipt back across the counter, she tapped her original receipt and said, "I actually have two copies of this book." "You only returned one," I replied. "Yeah, I have the other on my Kindle. Thanks for your help!" And she walked away.

I slowly turned to Joanna who looked at me with pure sympathy. She said, "So, was that supposed to make you feel better?" Her customer and the two of us laughed but the burn of losing a $15 sale to a Kindle stayed with me the rest of the night.

I understand independent bookstores need to get on the ebook train sooner rather than later. I welcome the challenge and opportunity with open arms. But I hate losing a sale to a Kindle. I hate seeing customers browse my tables, punching the Kindle screen. I hate even more when I spend ten minutes handselling titles to someone who's an obvious bibliophile & then see them sitting in a corner, sipping a coffee, downloading that stack onto their device. But the knife in the heart and the back and the soul was that return. Knowing I was eating a fifteen dollar return and had lost a physical book buying customer to the Kindle hurt.

I know now we need to get moving into ebook culture fast. If our readers are going elsewhere to get their books, we need to go with them. There are no excuses anymore...


Evidence 006: By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

I'll read anything Julie Anne Peters writes. She is one of the few authors I refuse to part with, either lending or donating -- her books stay on my shelves. One day, my children will read her works. I'm adding By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead with pride. I'm so grateful that Peters is not afraid to talk about what needs to be talked about.

The slow moving trend of bullycide started with Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and continues with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Peters adds to the genre with a raw look at the real psychological and physical effects of bullying. It's not just a grade school, playground phenomenon -- bullying is ever-present and even more dangerous, extreme, plotted, and ignored in high school. Daelyn has dealt with it her entire life; she didn't grow out of it, she couldn't fit in, and when it became too much to live with, she decided to end her life. Several failed attempts have rendered her mute, scared, and scarred. She's determined this time will be the success she's waited for.

Daelyn discovers a website which shows her she is not alone in her journey towards death. Avoiding her watchful, nervous parents is easy; staying away from the curious, extroverted, comical Santana proves difficult and frustrating. As Daelyn is attempting to end her life, Santana wants to be a part of it, sharing his own scars and fears even as Daelyn refuses to share her own. As she begins to purge her life of her belongings, and writes about her reasons behind her choice, Daelyn shuts down and shuts off everyone around her. There are faint flickers of hope - wishing to be comforted by her mother, Santana's cheesy attempts at romance, even attention from a possible new friend. She's confused by new feelings, determined to stay on track, and she begins to finally face her past as she sees her future becoming shorter and shorter.

I had chills from beginning to end. As someone who's lost two people to suicide, seeing life from this perspective was fresh, humbling, comforting. Daelyn is real; her thoughts, feelings, and actions are, too. This makes this novel even more important, more powerful, and more necessary for any parent, teacher, and teen wondering if they really are alone.