Giving thanks for books (and readers)

Sorry for the silence here, my Mac was off playing with friends at the Apple store, and in the meantime the copyedit for The Language of Bees landed on my desk—oh, and isn’t today some kind of a holiday? Because my house is awfully full of people all of a sudden…

But I just wanted to say that I am giving thanks today, not the least for you, devoted readers of fiction, who continue plunking down money or filling out library requests for titles by LRKing, and make it possible for me to do what I love, tell stories.

I answered the phone the other day and found myself talking to a pair survey taker, with a list of remarkably unconnected questions from sports to bladder infections. One of her concerns was whether or not I would be shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, and so I thought I’d conduct a survey here: do you venture into stores that day? And if so, why on earth do you risk life, limb, and mental equanimity? Is it the bargains?

In addition to the question, I have a request, not entirely self-serving. If this holiday season is anywhere near as cataclysmically bad as the media is suggesting, use what dollars you are laying down a your vote to what you want preserved on Main Street. Bookstores can be the center of a town, an essential part of its life-blood, and owners across the country are shuddering with dread of what their bottom line is going to look like come January.

Books make great presents. Bookstore gift certificates make great presents. The doo-dads bookstores have on their shelves make great presents. And a latte from the bookshop’s coffee bar makes a great present for yourself.

If you want signed copies of LRK books for your Christmas list, you can write my local guy, Crossroads books ( or go to the Capitola BookCafe web site.

In any form, please toss a few dollars at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore this season. For us all.

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  1. Carlina on November 27, 2008 at 11:09 am

    *tips hat* A very merry Thanksgiving to you and your family as well! I hope things are well and your husband is doing better.

    I’ve spent the last six months, since I relocated, buying books from independent bookstores (they are far better than the chains here). Let’s just say between my self and my DH, both of us being academics, we’ve purchased enough to put a down payment on a car. If our local bookstores don’t have what we want, then we look at other indy stores such as Strands in NYC and Powells or Second Story Books in DC.

    As for the holiday season, no…I dare not venture out tomorrow. The lines and what not…meh. There’s always the internet and if I want something bad enough, I’ll purchase it online to avoid the hassle, especially if its tech related. I went to Macy’s last week for their big sale and ended up waiting in line for 45 min. to buy two items. Never again. Plus, I don’t like wrangling with old ladies for a simple cable sweater or socks..I find it rather impolite on my part since they are my elders…even if I want the socks bad enough…

    I suspect the sales will continue through to Christmas given the economy. If things don’t move from shelves, prices may decline even more.

    Once again a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and as I reader, much thanks to you for writing and spending a little time in the sandbox here. Happy Turkey Day!

  2. CindyD on November 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving! No, I won’t be going to the mall tomorrow. When we lived in Ohio it was a tradition, but here in the Phoenix area the crowds are too big. We are going on a three hour hike in South Mountain.
    And I already bought two presents at Changing Hands, our local bookstore. Will probably go again!

  3. vicki on November 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I tried the Black Friday thing once about 12 years ago. Never, *ever* again. The roads were an absolute nightmare, with traffic backed up for a mile around the shopping center, and people were grabbing stuff like hyenas gone wild in the stores. And the lines–I haven’t seen such lines since the Star Wars craze, when lines wound around the theaters and down the block outside.

    So for a lot of non-book items, I will attend cyber-Monday and hit some of the local shops. I’ve already gotten several books, and will get several more at the local shops. Any lines you see are generally short and the people in them sane, smart, and friendly. There is actually a blog called Buy Books for the Holidays–

    which is a great idea, I think. I’ve been using their logo for my facebook profile.

  4. Pat Floyd on November 27, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Laurie, I hope this has been a very happy Thanksgiving for you and your family and that you will be able to celebrate the holiday all weekend long. Along with family and friends I’m thankful for your books and for the VBC. And no, I won’t go near a store tomorrow. I give my younger nieces books from an independent book store and my older nieces and nephew a gift to Heifer, International.

  5. Chris on November 28, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

    Well, ours are January Sales, which normally start on 26th December (yes – I know) and this year started early November. I think we can all guess why. I don’t go Sale shopping, I’d play rugby if I wanted to enter a scrum! In fact, today, I remembered why I should NEVER try and achieve any shopping at all in my lunch hour… I did my Christmas book shopping on-line from one supplier, I’m afraid – it’s years since we had an independant book store in town. If I could afford it, I would start one – maybe if I get to retire early from my current ‘life’ I can do just that!

    Incidentally, I have Language of Bees on pre-order already from the US, until such time as the flags come out for a UK edition!

    All the best to all of you,


  6. Strawberry Curls on November 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    No Black Friday shopping for me. What a horrid name that is, conjuring death and destruction in my mind, not shopping and the holidays, but I digress. I want to thank you, Laurie, for oh so many things, but especially for sending me to search for an independent books store in my area. All the ones I grew up with, and used throughout my adulthood, have closed. Earlier this year I trooped up to Westwood to visit The Mystery Book Store and had a wonderful time. They have a large Sherlock Holmes section and my friend and I decimated it. Really, the manager said she was going to have to call the lady who stocks that section after we left. Anyway a search (isn’t Google wonderful?) for independent book stores in my area turned up one on Long Beach, about 30 miles south of me. I’m going to treat myself to a trip there in the next weeks, and might even brave the drive north and the always exciting parking situation in Westwood, to revisit The Mystery Book Store. –Alice

  7. boomergrl49 on November 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I never shop on “Black Friday.” Ugh.

    But I promise to stop by Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and spread some of my cash around this Christmas.

    I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only read one of your books so far (“A Darker Place”), so I will be looking for “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” when I walk down to Elliot Bay Books.

  8. rielphaek on November 29, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Having triumphed with apple and pumpkin pies w/ from scratch butter crusts, I rested my well fed tush and staid far, far away from stores and major roadways.
    Ulster Co., NY, has independent book stores and, even better, used bookstores.
    The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, is a phenomenal book. It’s why I can bake a from scratch butter crust pie w/out alot of cursing or throwing failed attempts on the walls.- Sara2

  9. annie on December 1, 2008 at 4:14 am

    I think most of you “know” me as quite a positive person, and I love independent shops. I am one of the 10% of UK shoppers who spend most of their household expenditure at markets & independent shops.
    So why do I buy nearly all of my new books on Amazon? Because my local book shop is both snobby and sloppy. A few years back in the space of 2 weeks, I was told that:
    “There are no Scarlet Pimpernel books in print” and “The Wyvern Mystery is unobtainable” – both were available from Amazon (from UK publishers) in 24 hours. When I went back the following week for more punishment, I was told, of a popular romance author “we don’t stock books like that”. I’ve not been back since.
    A big shout out to the really good independent book shops that I find on my travels, and buy from when I can; in the meantime, it’s on-line for me.

  10. 2maple on December 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Black Friday is a big thing at the nearest Mall open at 1 am etc.- but as that is 60 miles away I don’t bother. My 16 yr old wanted to go down with friends, but ended up picking up another shift at work … we weren’t going to let her go 60 miles at 1 am with a bunch of other 16 yr olds…so this sort of settled things gracefully without a lot of drama 🙂 …then later reports form other older teens said there were alot of late night drunks at the mall…delightful.

    The local towns also have big early bird specials in the weeks before Thanksgiving – for those who can rise & shine early with great deals…including the local book store/cafe. I was at the hardeware store and in addition to the great sale price, they were supporting another struggling local industry and giving away 2 lobsters to the first 200 customers. (Maine lobster prices are at all time lows…so buy lobster and support our local fisherman 🙂

  11. Meredith T on December 3, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Very belated Happy Thanksgiving; I am thankful for (if slightly overwhelmed by) all the events in the vast Laurie Virtual Empire. Indeed I hope you and the family had a fine holiday and several people sharing the cooking and the cleanup. I went to one store on the dreaded Day, a phone store, only to find the whoopdedo new product will be too expensive per month. As Nero Wolfe (and my husband) would say, pfui. Bookstores: have to give a shout out to Vroman’s the home away from home. Also to Crossroads and Jan. Jan has infinite patience with the odd LRK fan who insists on telling him that she must have paperbacks as well as hardback, in case she drops one in the bath. That would be me. best to all//Meredith

  12. Real Icon on December 12, 2008 at 4:31 am

    I guess our four advent Saturdays could be compared to your “day after Thanksgiving”, and no, thank you very much, I certainly won’t throw myself into the undefinable mass of human bodies wallowing through the city on those days unless you force me to. Why should I? Shopping Christmas presents in that atmosphere definitely is not fun, moving ten meters takes at least as many minutes, and nobody really seems to be enjoying himself. I’ve been gathering my bunch of Christmas presents continually during the past months – one of the drawers under my bed serves as storage room for presents and has been filled with “real” books for my father and siblings, and audio-book for my mother … I always give them books for Christmas, usually books I have read and fallen in love with myself.

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