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“Thank-you!” says the i-phone clutching prospect and moves on

With more than half of my Thursday stint at the author corner in Ottawa’s Byward Market expired and no books sold, I felt blue. My husband and the author beside me left. The manager of the Crazy Moose souvenir shop across the street was not daft enough to take my books on consignment, even  when I told him I had sold eight in two stints over the past ten days. “Nobody reads anymore,” he said. “If you’ve sold that many books in your booth then that’s the way to do it.” The conflict of the Twilight of the Gods of paper and digital is on and every author and bookseller feels it in the pocket.

On my own as the most aggressive of our selling trio, I figured I would complete the day my way, relying on eye contact as well as waiting for a customer to appear.  Here’s what I did before I sold two books and was able to call my day a trumpian success, considering the state of our universe:

  • Stood tall inside my booth to be conspicuous
  • Smiled and relaxed
  • Got into the mood of happy shopping, sesquicentennial celebrating and traveling
  • Controled my grooving to the music rocking the square as I scanned the passing crowd for intelligent faces
  • Rejected those eating ice cream cones or $5 stuffed potato halves that might mess up my books
  • Skipped those preoccupied with their own devices
  • Trusted my eyes to focus on someone who was compatible in some way with me, my writing and my readers (real and imagined)
  • When my gaze was returned, I lifted my eyebrows cordially and tilted my head back a bit as an invitation to them to come over 

Fate ridiculed me by making me oblivious to a woman who sneaked up to look at one of my cookbooks I had left littering the other author’s table at my side. She didn’t have $15 so I lowered the price to $10 and the sale made us both happy.

Then I saw a bent-over, gray-haired woman purposefully propelling herself and her full bag with the aid of a deluxe cane towards her parked car. As she passed by I caught her eye.  She lifted her face to convey a respectful, smiling nod to literacy. I said boldly and clearly to her disappearing back, “I have a very good book for you” and she indicated she would return.

She asked me to tell her about my book and we quickly found common ground.  We both appreciated writing with carefully chosen words, criticism and looking at issues like the residential school tragedies from all sides. She complimented me on my New York Times newsprint dress and wondered if it also came in French. She translates English into French for the federal government. By the time she bought the book and I signed it we were friends. She was Paule (pronounced “Pole”) and I was “Margo” (with a handwritten note giving the name of a chanteur who wrote a song by that title).

To me that was selling books at its best: two persons, strangers only seconds ago, making a pact to keep reading stuff on paper alive.

Happy Reading, Writing and Bookselling!

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

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