Collecting and reading Science Fiction can be a bit tricky when the Universe starts out as a movie series and the expands into novel. With Star Wars Lucas had control of the universe for decades and then in 1991 the Thrawn Trilogy came out. The flood gates opened and for the next decade or two over 60 books were written. New movies were made and then…suddenly the universe was too big.
The older books are no longer considered to be cannon, but “Legends.” An alternative reality of sorts. So what then? Are the books invalid?
Not exactly. The books become a fascinating look at the time period in which they were written and a way of seeing what people were interested in. For example Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was one of the first official books and it focused on Luke & Leia. The Lando & Han Solo adventure novels focused on the male adventurer trope.
But with The Thrawn Series we saw the wider universe and how the first movie trilogy caused the universe to change. Later books told us the tales of the Jedi and how the everyday people thrived during the Empire and the Republic. The story became more. It became better, more inclusive, more real.
And now the stories and tale we have grown up with are being adjusted.
And we cannot go forward without seeing what was left behind.
As it is now mid July most US based K-12 schools will be starting in a month. School supply lists and reading lists will be showing up soon as well. Before you parents, guardians,& teachers go to Amazon or Barnes & Nobel to find the books please stop at your local used bookshops. Used bookshops tend to have copies that are less expensive, and while they are in used condition, that does not mean that the book itself is worthless.
Buying from a used, independent shop helps everyone in may ways.
1: the buyer is paying less.
2: The book is being reused which is good for the enviroment
3: The student is learning how to help the economy and budget.
4: You are supporting small local businesses.
So please start your search with your local shops.
There are lots of ways to help the environment as a small business. One can pay a company to track orders for carbon offsetting. Or one can buy sustainable products to operate the business side. There are the two main ways that many small business deal with it. The problem is that in order to utilize those options the business needs to raise the prices of the items. This can lead to a lack of sales.
Many small businesses tend to walk a thin profit line. In order to compete with big box companies or even well established companies prices and products must be affordable and unique. As the bigger selling sites tend to push quantity over quality, and have the overhead to cover loss, this means that the smaller businesses need an edge.
People want a bargain, I understand that.
This has always been an issue. Grocery stores had a gimmick where you would receive stickers so that you can get a good deal on a dinner set. Banks would offer toasters when you opened multiple accounts. Sandwich club cards, free bookmarks or pens, and other cheap free gifts with purchase are still given today. All of this is to bring customers back and build loyalty. Unfortunately this causes a lot of clutter in the landfills.
Some companies offer non-tangible incentives, like free shipping over a set price, or free gift wrapping or even future percentages off the next purchase with in x about of days. While it does bring some customers back, the percentage is never high enough to justify the loss of the razor thin margin line.
In the last decade environmental friendly has become the new gimmick. I am not saying that carbon offsetting is a sham, or that climate change is real or not. But the trend has picked up pace with society and here we are. So how does a company become more environmentally sustainable?
It all comes down to money.
If a company has room in the profits to pay a company to set up an offsetting program, then that is a way to go. Of course if there is enough money, one can start buying more products that are recycled or made from more sustainable materials. But what if there is not enough money?
One of the main ways to run a small business in an environmentally sustainable & friendly manner on a tight budget is to upcycle and reuse. Yet the consumer tends to frown upon it.
For example I have twenty three bookcases- all wood. Buying them new with sustainable wood will cost me $200 per case at a starting point. But if I buy prefab or another wood from the local thrift market or seconds store it will cost me $40 each. Display cloths? $35 for newly made by people getting paid well. Or $3-10 each from a seconds shop. Glass display cases? Store closing down selling them off for cheap or have it newly made? These items would be tossed into the landfill if they are not bought and that would create more greenhouse gases. So isn’t it better to use what has already been made, instead of tossing it and making something new?
The same thing goes for packing supplies. While I can buy bags of packing peanuts that are made from vegetable matter that will dissolve in water, and newly printed papers to wrap things in, I don’t. Some stores will allow other stores to come and take their used packing supplies. Industrial waste is a massive issue, and any attempt to reuse them should be considered a good thing. I also buy gift wrap that has been marked down for clearance and brown paper bags to wrap my products.
The problem is with perception.
When I did fairs and festivals I would bring my products in cardboard boxes with paper shred made from old bills and adverts. If I sold enough and a box was damaged it would be used as firewood or taken home to be mulched. Thing is when I started to mail out products with paper shred people tended to not like it. I was told that it was trashy because it did not look nice. So I switched to wrapping items in cloth. At one point I had a lot of vintage unused handkerchiefs and tea towels. It was easy to wrap the products in and worked very well as a padding. Unfortunately customers complained that it was unsanitary and looked cheap. Perhaps they did not want to deal with the cloths afterwards, but they never said that. So now I still use those cloths when I go to shows and fairs. Envelopes need to be new, boxes have to be wrapped so that they cannot see previous company information.
Customers seem to want things to look nice and new, even if they want to feel better about how they are impacting the environment. It is getting ridiculous. Re purposing something does not mean it is damaged, nor does it mean you are getting scammed. Reusing until it cannot be used again is the other side of the environmentally friendly coin. It is the modern tale of Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree. (If you haven’t heard of this book, I suggest you find a copy!)
So this is what I suggest. If you, as a customer, want to help the environment or just follow the trend, then please not only check and see if the company is carbon offsetting, but if they are recycling & re purposing. This will not only help save the planet, it will help the small business stay in business and help save you money as well.
I have always wanted to be a bookstore owner, and I have been selling books for over 20 years. Before that I had worked in both new and used bookstores, both chains and indie. I have been a worker and a manager (even though a manager title is worthless when there are only two working) and a book repairer. Now as an owner I am all of that and more.
The stores I worked at have all be closed down for years now. This sounds strange, like it was my fault that this occurred. When one is talking about small businesses -especially small niche businesses- this is a common occurrence. Three of the places I worked at were specialty bookstores- one cats, one history and one sports-and I was the only employee. This meant that the owner could have a day off and not lose sales. This also meant that I learned every task that there was to run the place. This also meant that when I left (small businesses sometimes do not pay much) the store would have to hire someone quickly in order to keep up. When the owner got sick or could not hire anyone the business suffered.
Two of the places I worked at were general used bookstores. These are the ones where the books are stacked floor to ceiling in general sections which can easily become a health hazard. These places had good books, but some were
not able to be accessed without moving hundreds of others. These places deal with bulk sales and tend to not have online catalogues. They take in trades and hope to sell more than they do. This type of bookstore can succeed if they are the only used place around or are in an area with a lot of foot traffic.
I’ve worked in two chain bookstores. One of them sold music & coffee as well. This store had a problem with dealing with the change in readership. They did not host events, nor did they pay the employees well. For every trend they waited until it was proven to start it. For example they had a website where one could find the books, but not order them. For that the customer had to call the store nearest them. This was before Amazon started, but even after Amazon was growing into the creature it now is, they never decided to catch on to the seller aspect. Thus they went out of business.
When I started to sell books and started my business I wanted to stay small. I decided to gather a following through events and festivals. So I did. With only a tent, a pavilion, some rugs, a lot of foldable shelving, a reliable vehicle and inventory I would show up at SCA events, Pagan Festivals, Science Fiction Conventions, Anime Conventions, Home School Fairs and even thrift markets.
But time marches on, and I saw the need to start selling online as well. Thus my books were listed on Amazon, ABE.com and Alibris.com. I had multiple websites, but with unreliable computers and no understanding on how to actually post things it was just a glorified GeoCities.
It was always my plan to have a bookwagon to go to shows in, a brick & morter location and an active website.
But due to 2020 the brick & morter location and the shows stopped. Now I am selling online. I have this site, an inventory that is on biblio.com, a twitter account, an Instagram account and a tiktok account. I am selling at online festivals and attempting to find newer places to peddle my wares.
While it is a struggle and a bit of a pain, I am living my childhood dream and that is, to me, the best thing that one can accomplish in life.
With that being said, if you know of any fairs, festivals, events or groups that are starting up online, please feel free to let me know.
Mz. Geri was sitting on a worn wooden bench drinking from a cup of hot lemon tea (hot water and a whole peeled lemon) when I asked her about the books on her shelves. We were relaxing on her porch, hidden from the street by a large Rose of Sharon and some blooming Azealia bushes that were over 4 feet in height. She loves the privacy and the colors that the plants give her, but sometimes she wishes she could see to the street like she used to.
Before the plants?
Before the glasses.
Mz. Geri had grown up in the City of New York in Queens in the aftermath of WWII. Her mother would tell her about how much of the city used to be farmland and would always have a small plant or two- basil or rosemary- that would spend most of the time on the kitchen window or the fire escape. Mz. Geri always dreamed of having a garden and loved to have flowers around, but it wasn’t until she was in her 30s that she had the opportunity to grow anything.
My son had a spot in his lungs from the pollutionand the doctors said he needed fresh air to help strengthen them. So my husband got a job in Florida and we moved there. There was Nothing in that town. It’s gotten bigger now. But then the only entertainment was the church groups and the bars. The lack of shops was a big shock to me, but the heat was the impossible to describe. We had a small attached house-a duplex- with a fenced yard and a tree by the side door. I didn’t know anything about taking care of a house that big. The closets could hold a queen sized bed.
My first time planting…I had gotten these flower seeds.. multiple types of daisies and I had hooped to see a row of colorful plants down the fence line. I spent hours digging up the ground and planting them. I followed the directions watered them, and waited. Nothing grew. Not even a seedling. I tried it again in another spot. Nothing.
My neighbor was this older woman who was always dressed up. She wore good clothes all of the time. I don’t think I could survive today, now that I am her age, in that much hosiery and layers in the heat.Still she would work in her garden and it looked amazing. I asked for her advise. Mz. Geri laughs softly, a smile erasing the wrinkles from her face. I showed her the instructions and told her I was too exhausted to plant them correctly. I only dug down to my knee height and not the five feet. She looked at me, looked at the seed packet and said ‘Geri, the ” mark means inches.’ My poor seeds! I was so embarrassed. I dug down 4 feet to plant them. They are probably finally reaching the surface!
I planted them again, correctly this time. By the end of the month I had some growing. It was a battle with the heat, but the soil was much better then. Now I always need extra fertilizer, some 10-10-10 or horse manure, but then it seems like I only had to dig a little and it was fine. After I replanted them, my neighbor came over for brunch and she left that book for me. You have to remember that in the 70s Reader’s Digest was considered one of the better sources of information. I still have a copy of the home repair guide somewhere. This book was amazing to read and has been very helpful.
Reader’s Digest The Complete Book of the Garden was published in 1966. According to the introduction this 800+ page book was intended to create and cultivate a successful gardener who understands the basic principles, can easily adapt to changing conditions while being able to glean information from the experts. From the basics of choosing planters for indoor use to what plants are better for your living spaces, this no nonsense guide explained zoning and composting, and even when to purchase the plants for your particular use.
You must understand that many guides of the times were designed for the expert. I could find some on Bonsai trees, or roses, but there were only a few on wild flowers or normal flowers. A lot of them focused on the designing or the pruning of the plants. While it was nice to know how to arrange the roses for different occasions, I couldn’t figure out how to get them to bloom. What made this book my favorite was that in each section they tell you what plants to use. With both names: the common and the Latin.
And it does. Each section offers at least 10 plants that are optimal for the conditions. The plants are described in each stage of growing for easy identification, and the possible issues and diseases they are prone to as well. There are also some pastel colored line drawings to give the reader a better idea of the types of plants.
The section on compost was very helpful. I would take the bus down to one of the beaches and ask at one of the seafood restaurants for clam shells and fish bones to use. People would back away from me when I would come home with a small red cooler or some buckets. Ah it reeked! All of that rotting in the heat. It reminded me of when my mom would send us to my Uncles in Maine during the summer and we would have to wait for the fishing boats to come in. We would gather the lobsters and clams then walk up to the town so we wouldn’t be showing up empty handed. But the ladies on the bus would be “tut-tutting” me and eying my kerchief covered hair. One time I got on wearing a straw hat-oh the whispers. Most of those ladies seemed to do nothing but dress up and ride the bus. Considering the price of the bus fare was much less than the cost of a bag of horse manure I didn’t care. Could you imagine how they would have reacted if I came aboard with buckets of manure? I would have been told to take the migrant worker’s bus for sure.
Over the years I have taken the information about different types and styles of gardens and mixed them together. I don’t think flowers should be in straight rows. I started planting seasonally, so that there is always something growing. She shrugs.
I would rather there be some color somewhere. So what if the only thing growing is red tulips next to the mailbox? When they start to die off the geraniums will be blooming in the other corner. I’m not the best note keeper. I write them perfectly: what I planted, when they will bloom and where, but I keep misplacing them. When I die people will find years of garden designs in cabinets, drawers and possibly the bathroom cabinet. Who knows? If anything there is one failing of this book. There should be a section for notes. Not to write in, but a little card section. Like the library books used to have to stamp when the book needed to be returned. That way you could keep your notes in the same place.
I would suggest that anyone who wants to start gardening should have a copy of this book. I don’t know if it is still in print, but I’m sure there are plenty of used copies around.
Reader’s Digest does not currently offer The Complete Book of the Garden in any format at this time. Mz Geri is correct in that a simple internet search will bring up many used copies. Some of them all chipped on the spine as hers is. (see photo).
Greetings! This is just a note that on June 18-20, 2021 Uniqreads will be merchanting at the Free Spirit Gathering. This is an online only event this year. There will be classes, games and more. For this event we will be offering 10% off of our books to the attendees. Please check out the event at the link below.
For those who have followed the link here, you can find most of our listings at our biblio.com seller page.
This question has been a standard one for the majority of my life, and the answer has changed over the years.
When I was in middle school my answer revolved around being able to read anything I wanted at anytime. While I was in college, it was that I wanted to make sure there were affordable things to do that did not involve drinking. In my 20s it was the desire to be different and to start a revival of a simpler time of knowledge sharing. In my 30s it was a way to help parents find affordable information to educate the children with. Now in my 40s I have come to the realization that this is just in my blood and I shouldn’t have to justify it to anyone.
But the one thing that I have never gotten a clear answer to is “Why are you asking this of me?”
For some reason it seems that most of the people I have met are confused by my desire to live a life among the stacks. As a child I was told to dream big, and I did. Other kids would talk of owning horses or winning car races or becoming a teacher or a scientist and the adults all smiled and nodded. And that was that. Meanwhile my desire to own a bookshop with a living place on top of it was cause for concern. It alarmed them, and caused them to ask more questions.
“Are you sure?”
Of course I am.
“Why not dream a bit bigger?”
Well, I would always love to have a bigger shop or even a second one after a while.
“What about pets, or family or travel?”
Pets and Family can live with me without issue, why would owning a bookshop prevent this? As for travel —that would be a great way to get inventory!
“You’ll change your mind one day.”
“One day you’ll think of something less foolish to do for work.”
Okay? Like what? Mushroom farming or Beekeeping? Or raising Alpacas? I have guides books on how to do this and also books on business plans….
Not once in my young years did I have any encouragement with this plan. The idea of me running one, or even owning one, was considered to be far fetched and unrealistic. As the years passed the comments changed.
“What will you live off of?”
The money I make? I also grow my own food, and might start a Mushroom Farm for extra income.
“What about retirement?”
Nothing prevents me from saving, or investing or planning ahead. Besides I will love to do this until I die.
“ Why not do something meaningful?”
What can be more meaningful than owning and running a bookshop?
To me a Bookshop is the single most powerful place in the world. It offers shelter, information and comfort. It helps one define dreams and explore possibilities. It is the place that holds all whimsy, wisdom and wonders. A bookshop is where one can explore all the aspects of what was, what is, what will be and what would have been. A place where voices of the past can shimmer into the future causing new ideas to come to life. It is a place where the long dead, the recently dead and the non dead can come together.
Of course the smell of vanilla (from old paper) is a lovely addition.
As the owner/manager of a bookshop one becomes a dragon with a horde. A Bookwyrm who invites Book Worms to partake of the treasure.
But why is this such a thing for concern? Why do so many people need to hear an answer from me?
I believe it has something to do with the current state of Western Culture. The idea that someone could be happy without all of the trappings of modern society, that one does not need to be constantly connected, or distracted by the flash in the pan disposable life is strange to most people. To some it is a thing of horror, to others a thing of pity and, to a select few, an unspoken half formed desire. The question is asked for clarification, to allow them to justify their live and choices while judging others.
This creates a divide, a chasm, between the Bookwyrm and the others. One where the Bookwyrm is on the defensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a bridge made of paper and one can read the way over or not.
It is not the Bookwyrm’s job to convince the world of it’s validity. The actions of the Bookwyrm should do that.
Which is why, even in this digital age, Bookshops still exist.
My shop may be small, and the selection narrowly focused, but it is my shop and as the years pass onto decades my collection will be what tells people I was here. And I, the Bookwyrm, will live on in the heart of another.
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93 years old and still one of the best indie bookstores in NYC. I’ve gone on holiday to the city and spent days lost in the stacks. I loved how they would mail the books home so I wouldn’t have to carry them. Three floors, packed floor to ceiling, sales tables lining the block on which it stands. An amazing place with one of the hardest interview processes for employees. This is the place I dream my store would become. It has been a few years since I have walked the stacks, but when I am looking for a rare item for my clients, I check there first. Today on my twitter field I saw a message:
“Strand Book Store @strandbookstore
We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand’s history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted…. ”
In the last few months people have been pushing for Indie bookshops to survive and the public has listened. But people keep thinking that Indie means NEW bookstore, when instead the term means not connected to a chain or publisher and makes no distinction between new and used. Used bookstores are important. Most people do not understand this.
Used books keep people reading. If your budget only allows you a certain amount for books, would you chose one new hardcover or a stack of used paperbacks? Teachers need 40 copies of a book for a classroom? Used bookstores will have a good selection at reasonable prices.
If you end up having to move and need to unload some books, used bookstores are great for that. And when many people do this, you have the chance to find some interesting reads. For example in a used bookshop I once found a paperback version of The Song of Roland which was printed in France in three languages: Old French, Medieval English and Modern English.
Do you have a favorite author that has been writing for decades? Do you know that most publishers will not put any title that author wrote that was published by another publisher on the Other Works page? And when that first publisher is now out of business or merged with another one, how will you find the book? Now the titles are listed online, but only used bookstores carry them.
What about when the author mentions their favorite childhood author and you want to read what they loved? Best place to find them is in a used bookstore.
Want something new to read that is similar to what you like to read? New bookshops tend to have the classics and whatever is “in or popular” at the moment. So finding something that is different can be a challenge. And yet at used bookshops you can see shelves of things that are similar or completely different than what you even though of reading. Catchy titles or just weird covers in styles of bygone years can start a journey into a new reading experience.
Used bookstores are a view into the social past. What to understand why your grandparents, or great grand parents thought and acted the way they did? Check out what they read and you can see how society was being shaped.
Amazon is making it easier to find and buy books on it’s site, but independent bookstores that sell through them barely make a profit off of the sales. (Check out their terms on the seller page, then compare it to the seller pages on biblio.com and others). Online sales are the future and used bookshops are heading that way in droves. But people tend to discard the old. A shiny new book is a great present, but a worn book is considered a bad one. Unless it is rare and antiquarian and that is a whole other topic.
The modernized world is beginning to recognize that the “single use” mentality is a bad idea, and used bookstores are the key to this. Badly worn reader copy books can be used for art projects and home décor. And while they are paper, the processing sometimes makes it difficult to decompose easily- especially the covers/boards. I have seen people who have used them as planters and as small animal beds.
But keeping used books in circulation will help the environment and the economy by letting people spend in small amounts and also prevent over publication of new books. This is a win win situation.
But people need to support used bookshops. I implore you to check out places like Alibris.com, Biblio.com, thrift books.com, hpb.com and strandbooks.com to start and to search for used bookstores near you to find local ones.
The only way for the industry to survive is with the help of society and it is important to society that the industry does survive.
Once again we are back for our weekly “reviews”. In this series we will offer the first paragraph of the first chapter of a book, some new, some old and out of print and a synopsis of the plot to see if this will be of interest. In honor of the start of the school year, September will be children’s books month. We will “review” books for younger readers from Kindergarten to Jr. Highschool, offer the Lexile level (if available)and note if it something in our inventory or not. The intent behind this simple. Children tend to stick with what they like to read, and the books used for most language classes tend to be not typically something to catch a child’s attention. By offering a selection of lesser know, out of print or small press titles this gives the child a chance to read something different, develop a wider world view and, hopefully, create a love of reading.
The other aspect of this series is that most people tend to decide what they want to read by the cover art, or by the blurb on the back. We all know not to judge a book by the cover because sometimes the artist has no idea what the book is really about. By offering a preview of the opening paragraph it will give the reader a chance to see the language, flow and possibly the hook of the story. This is not a traditional review, as we will not discuss the plot of the book at all. For a more traditional review, please go to our goodreads page. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/120840365-elizabeth-campbell where we will start posting this week.
It is our hope that you join us for this month of books and that you comment on what your opinion of the books selected are. First up is:
Lola the Buhund and the Empty Sky
No lexlie reading level.
“The night was damp, yet there was no rain. For almost thirteen years, there had been no light in the sky. Likewise, there had been no clouds, no rain, and no snow—the sky was completely bare. The disappearance of the sun, the moon, and the stars had left the country of Prithvi in a state of limbo. Long ago the tide had stopped and the wind had ceased to blow; the ground grew cold and the forests withered anddied.”
Born into a world of darkness, Lola has never seen the sun, but a chance encounter with some strangers sets her off on a quest to discover the fate of her world and what really happened to the light.
Does this sound like a book you’d like to read? Why or why not?