Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Baaaack

I've returned from a great short trip, and I'm full of all kinds of book thoughts that I feel compelled to share.

First off, I visited a number of bookstores while I was in Vermont this past weekend. And I mean I truly visited them because that's the kind of thing I do while I'm on vacation. I wasn't there to make appearances.

My first stop was the Briggs Carriage Book Store in Brandon. Let me give you a little background on Brandon and myself. I almost grew up there. I actually lived in Sudbury, which is maybe 9 or 10 minutes from Brandon, from third grade until after I graduated from college. But Sudbury was so tiny that Brandon was where Sudburyites went for groceries, library books, and to attend high school. In fact, for many years Sudbury didn't maintain any kind of schools and sent its offspring to Brandon's.

Up until six or seven years ago, I was up in Brandon 3 to 5 times a year because my mother was still living there. She had moved even closer to the town. So I felt I had a relationship with the place.

The Briggs Carriage Book Store opened about 9 years ago. It's an attractive shop, and I've always liked what I've seen of it.

Okay, so I go in there last Saturday, and my husband, as he always does, goes right to the children's department to see if they have any of my books. They do. Two of my books that are now out of print, as a matter of fact. How interesting, I thought. Then I noticed that I'd signed them. This would be lovely, except...I signed them the last time I was up there for my high school reunion, four and a half years ago!!!

Do you get it? The bookstore in my own almost hometown couldn't sell my signed books in four and a half years!!!

I've got to hand it to them, though. The store used to be located on the other side of town. Bless their hearts, when the owners relocated, they brought my books with them.

Well, why was I upset about this? Only because I was so attached to my perception of how sales should go for a hometown girl. That's all about ego. I can give that up.

Yeah. Sure, I can.

So, we continued up Rte. 7 to Charlotte, hoping to stop at Flying Pig, but it was closed. Believe it or not, I tried to go there once before a few years ago, and it was closed then, too.

It is a really tiny place.

A few days later we went into Burlington, where we stopped at two lovely used bookstores, Crow Bookshop and North Country Books. (I can't believe that second place doesn't have a website.) I have a family member who loves used bookstores so I've been in more than a few, but I'm not a big fan because...well...a lot of them are, uh, kind of crowded...dusty...mildewy. But both these places were very attractive. They definitely looked as if their buyers were discerning, not bringing just anything into the shops.

We then went across the street to...Borders!...because I had a gift card I wanted to use on vacation. This time I went to the children's department to see if they had any of my books. Sure enough, they had two copies of The Hero of Ticonderoga. For the second time in my life I offered to sign stock, and for the second time the offer was accepted.

Finally, I went to Bear Pond Books in Stowe. They had two copies of Hero at the front of the store. Lo and behold, they seemed happy to have me sign them, too.

So, really, I am over that first unhappy experience with the unsold books in my hometown.

And did I spend all my time in bookstores stalking myself? No, I bought my first Terry Pratchett novel. After discussing my first foray in Discworld with another shopper in the sci-fi section at Borders, I settled upon The Color of Magic.

I also discovered Sabra Field at a gallery in Burlington and picked up a package of her notecards (utilitarian art) at Bear Pond Books.

Oh, I have so much more to talk about. But another day.

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