The business part of my trip was almost as much fun as the personal part. It is always great to meet new bookstore staff and spend time sharing what kinds of books we like to read and why. Sometimes I am even tempted to buy a book the staff recommends and expand my reading habits.
At The Book Rack in Moline, IL, I had a chance to visit with some customers who enjoy mysteries and had a pleasant afternoon. The store specializes in used books and only carries a few new ones. It works much like Half-Price Books and is a good way to recycle paperbacks when you run out of room on your bookshelves.
Our daughter, Dany, took her role as my assistant seriously and helped get tables set up at each store. She also took books and flyers to other stores in the strip mall in Moline, to generate some interest in my appearance. She talked one man who was putting up a sign for a new business into coming in to buy a book.
In Cadillac, MI at Horizon Books, the staff welcomed me for my third visit to the store and were very gracious. I got a complimentary scone and coffee from their coffee shop, and both were delicious. The store is very busy on Saturdays, so I got to meet a lot of people. One lady bought one of my books, then told me about a book she had just read that she loved. Copies happened to be on the table right next to mine, so she handed me one. The title is Thrift Store Saints, Meeting Jesus 25c at a Time, and was written by Jane Knuth, who had spent years working at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo MI.
I bought the book for several reasons. First because the writing was engaging. Second because I thought it would be a nice gift for my husband, who had spend a number of years working in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Omaha NE. And lastly because it was published by Loyola Press, a Jesuit Ministry. I have a special affinity for the Jesuits and anything they endorse is good for me.
In Ann Arbor, MI, I got to visit Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookstore. I had heard about the store for a long time and always wanted to visit. Who wouldn’t want to see a store that shares a name with the awesome Agatha Christie. I didn’t have an event scheduled there, but, Jamie, one of the owners, had ordered some copies of my book for me to stop by and sign. That’s called a drive-by signing, which is much nicer than the other kind of drive-by’s we read about.
The next stop was in Bloomington, IN at Howard’s Books, located in the square around the Monroe County Courthouse. It was a slow night at the store the Thursday I was there, but we had fun meeting the cats. There is something about bookstores and cats. I know a number of store owners who have cats that wander freely at the stores, and some cats even live there.
Joie Canada, the owner of Howard’s, said that since cats don’t like to be moved from place to place, her cats stay at the store. People stopped in that night just to visit the cats, and I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted, or just join in the fun.
There was Merlin, above, who Joie guessed was about 22 years old, and Lulu, who is much younger. Lulu was quite fascinated with my books and then she discovered the kitty that travels with me to every signing event. Lulu decided that the kitty would be good to eat, and even tried to get it out of my bag when I put it away.
There were no cats at Davis-Kidd Bookstores in Memphis, but I enjoyed meeting the staff there when I did another drive-by signing. The girls who assisted me were very gracious, and if I closed my eyes I could pretend I was Sue Grafton being given the royal treatment. No, wait, there would have been a line a mile long to meet her.
But, I have never measured the success of events by the number of books sold. Good thing, too, says my husband who reminds me that I never come out ahead when you figure all the expense of a book tour. What makes it a success for me is meeting new readers and new store owners and staff, which down the road may lead to more sales.
As expected, I did come home with a lot of books that I had purchased, but my husband didn’t complain too much since most of them were for him.