Persona non grata

My plan is to make The Cutting Room available in a few of Ottawa’s independent bookstores. Sales will primarily happen online. But Ottawa is my hometown and one of the subjects of the book. And yes, I’d like to see The Cutting Room on a store shelf, perched among the works of other ‘D’ authors.

Okay, I’d better back up. Ottawa only has a few independent bookstores left. The online and boxstore giants are crushing these neighbourhood gems. It’s tragic. I love small bookstores. Octopus Books on Third Avenue is the lone survivor in the Glebe. Elsewhere in the vicinity of downtown we’ve got Perfect Books on Elgin, Books on Beechwood, and Singing Pebble on Main Street.

I’m as guilty as the next guy for not supporting the independents. Spending a few minutes in these shops on the weekend reminded me that I should be buying my books there as well as selling them. I know stocking a couple of copies of The Cutting Room isn’t going to make much difference (until Hollywood buys the movie rights). But maybe if I drive a few buyers through their doors… maybe people just need to reacquaint themselves with the beauty and pleasure of a small bookstore.

I was in North Carolina in June visiting family. We took an afternoon drive to Fearrington Village, an odd tourist/retirement community near Chapel Hill. I spent about an hour in McIntyre’s Books, as idyllic a book shop as you’re likely to find in North America. Well stocked. Lots of cubby holes crammed with more books. Super knowledgeable staff. And reviews, an astonishing number of them, handwritten and tucked into books throughout the store. Who can read that many books? Who can formulate so many coherent opinions? Very impressive.

Back in Ottawa, I dropped into one of my hometown independent stores last Saturday. There were three women at the cash. When I asked if they took self-published works on consignment, the older two scattered like scared rabbits, leaving the junior to ‘handle it.’ She was polite but short on enthusiasm. I’m sure they get all kinds. It must be frightful. Feeling sympathy for the girl—and not being the best self-promoter—I simply left a copy of my book along with my business card. Have a look, I told her. I’ll call you in a week.

 No one said this was going to be easy.