Please don’t throw produce, but…by Deb Joelle

Please don’t throw any rotten tomatoes at me, but, and I know it’s sacrilege for a writer to admit this, but I generally don’t enjoy bookstores. I know, I know…now bookstores across the country are putting a big black mark next to my name, but WAIT, let me explain.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE bookstores for other people, but after a few minutes in a bookstore, I begin to sort of panic. It’s just too much. Too many wonderful books, too many spots to sit and look at them, too many titles, authors, covers, displays, too much, ah, my brain might explode! AHHHH!!!

The truth is that I’m like this with all stores. Grocery, hardware, clothing, pet stores…all of them. The internet has seriously saved me from shopping. Maybe it was all my years in retail, but as soon as I walk through the door of any store, my freak-out clock starts ticking loudly. After 10 minutes, my pace picks up. After 11, I’m pushing people out of my way, at 12 minutes, things on my list become unnecessary. Bread? Milk? Who needs ’em? By the 13 minute mark, I start throwing random things into my cart. At 14 minutes, I’m racing for the magazine stand where I yell at my husband, “Let’s go!!!” and we rush to the checkout line. I don’t breathe easy until the backpack is loaded and we’re walking home.

So you can imagine how it must be for me in a bookstore. For one thing, I can’t have everything I want. If I’m lucky, I can afford one book. And as the minutes tick by, it becomes a desperate search for the RIGHT one. Not to mention I have a standing policy against reading the jacket copy. How do you choose one book from all the millions without reading the copy? What if I choose wrong. What if I buy a sequel to a book when I haven’t read the first one? What if, what if, what if?

That’s why I love libraries. There is only one bookcase of YA. And if I choose wrong, I can just turn it back in and get something else. But in spite of my fear of retail, I do love bookstores for the rest of the population. And when we travel, we always go into every indie we can find. Luckily, my husband loves them, and so I just find one thing to look at and wait while he examines everything in the store.

While researching indie bookstores, I found something very cool that you all should know about. Island Books on Mercer Island (near Seattle) will ship your book purchase for free. That means while you have to pay retail (no chain discount) you can still come out about even because you don’t pay shipping, AND you can support an indie. The owner has been very friendly and seems excited about my book. I’m setting up an account with them (they don’t have a shopping cart, orders are done by phone or email so you can get real indie customer service). Any time I need to send a copy of Restoring Harmony for a prize or review in the U.S. they will send it for me and charge my account. And in May, I’m going to do a stock signing there, so if you want a signed book from me, you’ll be able to order one from them.

Yay, bookstores!

P.S. This whole fear of bookstores is meant sort of tongue-in-cheek. I actually love bookstores and I’m drawn into them like a moth to the flame. Like the moth though, I burnout pretty quickly from all the good stuff. I am looking forward to signings though because I’ll be able to be social and chat and everyone else will be the ones checking out the books. Social I can do!

10 Replies to “Please don’t throw produce, but…by Deb Joelle”

  1. So little time, so many choices. Joelle, you describe it so well, and it really can feel like panic rising up. My sympathies to you! I don’t mind shopping in small doses, when I go to the city. However, art museums can cause sensory overload and overwhelm me. They are such fantastic treasures for the senses. It’s hard to see it all in one day because after I spend ten minutes staring at one work of art, it’s kind of hard to move on to the next one. Your experience of bookstores reminds me of museum fatigue. You want to soak it all up in one gulp!

  2. I have to admit to hating bookstores myself. But only since I’ve been published. There are so damn many OTHER wonderful books available and I go in there – ESPECIALLY THOSE GIANT CHAIN STORES – which I dislike for other reasons – and I just panic. How in the world will anyone ever find my little book in this overwhelming ocean of books?

    It’s a problem.

  3. Your arrangement with Island Books sounds great! What a good idea.

    I do love bookstores, but you know what I used to be really into? Drug stores. Like, Rite Aid, that sort of place. They’re open late, and they have pretty much everything: books, food, office supplies, gifts, makeup, hair stuff. And they’re air conditioned in the summer. Man, ask me ten years ago, and I might have been willing to live in one 😉

  4. I’m from a TINY town, and when I was a kid and we’d go to the city to shop once-a-month or so, we’d go to a big store and I’d get the hiccups. Every time. Then, when I got married, I started having panic attacks in That-Store-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. People were so…rushy. I can’t do rushy. 🙂 The indie store you mentioned sounds so great! Thanks for letting us know about it, and about your shopping quirks. 😉

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