Okay, so there’s a guy named Byron Borger, who runs a truly quality independent bookstore called Hearts & Minds in Dallastown, PA.
I know Byron because on his store’s website he once named my book Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang as a Best Book of the Year, 2006. (Specifically, he tagged it as one of that year’s three Funniest Books. Bragging break! Part of what Byron wrote about Penguins was, “This pocket-sized hardback is funny from the outset … . It is a thoughtful guide to the bigger questions of apologetics, as God dictates his views of stuff serious (and not so serious, like when he told how for a while after Star Wars came out he took at liking to the Yoda character and talked like him, ‘freaking out’ the angles with lines like ‘Don’t play the harp. Let the harp play you.’)”
So I read what Byron wrote about my book; I wrote him to thank him; we corresponded; I learned he was a great guy running a wonderful business. (And I have since really learned to love his blog, Hearts & Minds BookNotes. Byron writes with real intelligence and sensitivity — plus, his blog has the Best Purpose Statement ever: “Annotations, blurbs and ruminations to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind, and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore.” I just … love that.)
Anyway, zip ahead to … well, to my last blog posting. There, I told people who were having trouble finding either Penguins or I’m OK in stores that their best bet was to order it online from one of the big online bookstores.
Imagine Byron’s disappointment.
Which he communicated to me this morning via e-mail.
Which totally made me want to say this to you: The absolute best way to get my books is to ask your local bookstore to order it, and ESPECIALLY if that local bookstore is an independent, locally-owned bookstore — where, to quote the eminent Byron Borger, “the staff really care about books and your reading habits and aren’t faceless folks who could care less, which is the case in most gigantic internet shopping cart places.” (To that, the ever-modest Byron added, “And don’t forget that many brick-and-mortar stores also have online ordering — of, for instance, the sort you can find at www.heartsandmindsbooks.com, where the people really, really like your books.”)
Yes. Yes! I certainly feel this way about bookstores. I worked in bookstores for about 10 years. As both a writer and a (relatively) normal guy with a personal history that means a lot to me, my heart is always with a bookstore. Always.
I have no idea how I, like, forgot that when I was telling people how to most quickly snag a copy of my book.
Bad … guy who used to work in bookstores and loved it so much he still thinks of those jobs as the best real jobs he ever had, since he was, is, and ever will be a bonafide Book Freak.
Bad … guy who spends so much time staring at his computer screen he’s apparently now beginning to forget there is an outside world.
Anyway, sorry, Byron! You rock like Gibraltar. Thanks for your thoughtful, lovely e-mail this morning.