Monday, October 22, 2012

The Times They Are a Changing.................

I am a jumble of mixed emotions as I set fingers to keyboard.  My good friend and fellow business owner, Rob of Bert's CDs is closing his doors.   He has taken a job on campus, a job where he will do well, a job where the students will be lucky to know him, a job that will provide benefits for his family. 

This wasn't a decision that he made lightly.  Because, like me, Rob loves what he does.  Loves his customers, loves the music industry and despite the competition that he faces daily from the internet and downloadable product his niche store provided him a good life.  A life where his work was his passion, a life where he got to be happy every day.   Both he and his wife are self employed and the cost of medical insurance had become a burden.  He was looking for a job that he hoped would not only provide his family the much needed benefit of health insurance but one that would also provide him a sense of satisfaction, a job that he could do well and make a difference.  He found that.  The loss to downtown Dillon is huge but the gain for the University of Montana Western and the students he will work with is also huge.  I hope they all realize how lucky they are to have Rob Micken as part of their team. 

As for The Bookstore and me.......................well the Times They are a Changing.  We have added the greeting card lines and magnets that were availabe at Berts CDs.  The lines he carried compliment our existing greeting card selection.  Last week all those cards and magnets moved down Idaho Street to The Bookstore.  So those very funny, sometimes off color, unique products can now be found on our shelves. 

We have always been able to order music CD's but chose not to because on the corner was the expert.  We will now offer that service.  But be patient with us -- we know books.  We are excited that we will be able to order music for you but I am being really honest with you when I say the guy down the street was the expert.  I always knew that if I gave a partial title or very poorly sang him a couple of bars he would know what I wanted.  We will work very hard to provide you good service when it comes to ordering your music.

For several weeks I have been exploring an offer from the American Booksellers Association for independent bookstores like ours.  An offer that allows us to enter the ereader arena.  I am both excited and frightened.  Frightened to the point that I made the decision to accept this offer and sell the KOBO ereader at the very last minute.  I will soon be taking a crash course on these contraptions.  But for the first time we will be able to offer an ereader to our customers, an ereader that can be purchased locally.  When the KOBO is purchased from us and is registered on the KOBO website ( we will also be credited for the books you purchase.   In the next couple of weeks we will have demo KOBO's to show you. 

Good luck Rob we will miss having you on the corner,  Thanks for everything you do and good luck on your new journey. 

The times may be changing but as always I will be reading books my way,  held in my hand where I feel the pages, smell the ink and cherish those words from cover to cover. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


It is no secret that I prefer the colder months.  But Fall is my favorite time of year.  The magnificent colors, cooler temps,  zucchini, green tomatoes, football (6-man to professional), falling leaves, sweaters,  hearty soups and thick books are all indicators that we are preparing for the winter months.  There is just something about this time of year that excites me.  I am more creative, I have more energy and I am thrilled to know that we will start having more colder days than hot ones.  I know I am lucky to live where I do, where there are distinct differences between the seasons where the sky never ends and the mountains stand tall. 
The store is busy, our schedules are full, we are preparing for author signings and Dances with Words.  The Oktoberfest is rapidly approaching (October 6th) and requiring a lot of my attention.  Somewhere among all the fast paced living that I do, I turned 9.  Quietly celebrating another year of living without cancer, another year of being so very thankful for all that I have and all that I do.  My Mom called the day before and said are you really 9 years out?  We laughed remembering how excited we were when I hit the 5 year mark.  I had an appoitment with the oncologist that day and I was giddy like a kid on a merry-go-round.  My Doctor noticed the dates and said "you are 5 today".  Bill and I were grinning from ear to ear.  

My dear friend, Mary has remembered each one of the 9.  Always marking the day in a unique and creative way.  This year was no exception.  She presented me with 9 ladies dancing and a box of Charleston Chews.  It was perfect.  No big fanfare, just a quick hug knowing that we all face adversity. Everyday when we wake up we are all survivors and should work hard at remembering to be grateful for the little things.  Don't take anything or anyone for granted and always get your mammograms.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A bit of a Rant and a whole lot of opinion

I wasn't sure I was going to take on this age of electronics BUT after the past few days I have decided not only that I would but also that I should.  I am not here to discuss the kindle pitfalls nor what it could mean to the future of a REAL book.  I am here to talk about, share and possibly become the Amy Vanderbilt for the proper manners when one owns an e-reader.

I can't help but think of my grandmother and the changes she witnessed during her lifetime.  She rode in horse drawn buggies, helped haying crews with equipment that was pulled by horses.  She drove cars, travelled by airplane and witnessed a man land on the moon. She listened to a radio before there was television.  She owned  TV in black and white and then one in color.  I now compare those advancements to the rapidly changing electronic world we live in today.  A world where we are hooked up, online and quickly becoming instant gratification addicts.

     I find it amusing that none of my customers purchased their own version of an e-reader whether it be an Ipad, Nook or the new kindle fire.  When they are confessing that they now have entered the world of electronic books they tell me that they never thought they would own one but then they got one as a gift. ......

I love books, I love reading, I love talking about books, I love recommending books and I love talking about books with people that love books, love reading and love talking about books.  This is my job, it is my career and it is my passion.

(WARNING:  This is where the rant begins)  Because I enjoy what I do I was slow to realize that "some customers" (but certainly not all) are now using me the same way information seekers use google.  They come into The Bookstore asking for my professional opinion on what is hot in the world of books.  I gladly comply reaping upon them my vast knowledge.  Giving them my undivided attention and letting them share in all that I know.  I pull the books from the shelves, I take the time to find out what books they enjoy or if they are looking for something particular to read.  I offer to order a title if we don't have it in stock.  It is no secret that I am a talker and when I am talking about books I can (and often do) go on and on sometimes forgetting that I am talking to someone but rather I become one with the book. 

These people will jot down the titles or ask if I have a website listing my favorite books.  I spend a lot of time with these customers enjoying the literary exchange before it slowly dawns on me that they are not going to buy any of these books from me.  They are going to purchase them and they are going to read them but they will not be paying me for the books nor do I get a consultants fee.  They are going to take the information that I gave them and happily travel the world wide web and purchase those books elsewhere.

I didn't want to believe that people who have been customers in my store would use me in this way.  And to be fair I doubt they think they are doing anything wrong.  I am starting to feel like they are shoplifting my brain.  I can not have them arrested but they are stealing from me (OK I also lean a bit to the dramatic)  Some people are much more subtle than others possibly purchasing a postcard for a quarter or a birthday card telling me they will be back.  I have actually witnessed people sitting in their cars in front of my store downloading something onto a plastic contraption.  I can only assume that it is one or all of the books I had just spent 45 minutes discussing with them.  And yes they have also downloaded the book while still in my store.

It was last week that I had a full realization that this happens (a lot) a woman came into the store and told me she wanted to thank me for being so helpful last summer when she visited Dillon for 8 weeks.  I vaguely remembered her and smiled and welcomed her back.  Then she asked me what books I had read over the winter.  I excitedly shared with her.  She then told me that she had been able to download all of the books I recommended last year and told all of her friends back home about the wonderful woman in Dillon.  I was stunned when she told me (in a round about way) that she had not purchased a single title from me.  She told me that no one had ever picked out titles for her that she enjoyed more.  In fact she told me she wasn't used to going to a bookstore where the clerk was so knowledgeable.  I didn't know whether to laugh, to cry or punch her........................I did none of those things but believe me the "Other Debbie" had serious thoughts of ways to torture this woman.

I have had people ask for my help and then stand in my store to see if they can download the book.  I have folks coming in and using the price check app.  I have had people refuse to allow their traveling companion to purchase them a book because they will get it from amazon or download it.  Often times the the companion is embarrassed.

Where does this lead?  What does it mean?  As for me I will continue to do what I do best, read books, sell books and share my passion with others.  I will hope that folks like me still walk the earth that want to hold a book, touch the pages, smell the print, browse the shelves of a bookstore and buy the book and take it home.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Graduation......................The Bookstore (observations but no advice)

It is May.  May of 2012.   I am stunned that not only is it May but it is closer to June than April.   In one short week our God son, Pete and one of our employees, Jordyn will graduate from high school.   Both are honor students and Pete is the class valedictorian.  We have many friends that are celebrating the graduations of their offspring.  For some it is their eldest child standing on the threshold of adulthood and for others it is the youngest.  Some are graduating from college or middle school and at least one is celebrating the milestone of graduating from preschool and heading off to the big world of kingergarden in the fall.   It is an exciting time.  A mixture of anticipation, trepidation, confusion and in some cases fear.   But no matter what, the diplomas they will receive are a symbol of accomplishment.  There will be parties and presents, cakes and meat platters.  There will be laughter, lots of laughter and a few tears.  Promises to keep in touch, promises not to change, promises of being best friends forever.   There will be the signing of the yearbooks and the exchanging of addresses.
     We will sell books intended for them that will encourage the prospective graduates to be all that they can be, books instructing them to spread their wings, books that warn them of the "naked roommate" and books that tell them what they should or shouldn't do.  They will receive dictionaries or a Rand McNally Road Atlas.  Cookbooks for dorm room meals or healthy college eating and recipe books on 101 ways to prepare ramen noodles.  
And most if not all will be given a copy of Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places you will go"  where the words "You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose."  will be burned into their brains.   It is a terrific book. It fits for all ages from the preschool graduate to the medschool grad.  It works for and encourages those heading off to college or technical school and works just as well for those moving into an apartment and starting a job.  It tells of success and of bumps along the way.  It has a great message and it is plain fun.  It is fun to give and fun to receive.  It wasn't published until 1990 (I graduated from high school in 1978)  I left home and moved to Missoula where I attended the University of Montana as a journalism student.  I had fun.  I had a lot of fun.  Some might say too much fun.  My grades reflected the fun I was having and the studying I was not doing.  I did not graduate from college.  I could add chapters to the book "Been there SHOULD'VE done that" and possibly I was the naked roommate. Well I was at a minimum the roommate that encouraged late nights that often did not involve anything acedemic.   
     I look back at my graduation with fond memories.  Remembering the emotions and the determination to do something that took me out of Augusta, Montana and into the world.  I may not have graduated from college but I did spread my wings.  I did meet new people and experience new things.  I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and somewhere along the way the dream changed and I am here in Dillon, Montana doing something that I love.  I have a degree in life and wish the best for all the graduates of 2012 no matter where they are or where they are headed for they have "Brains in their heads and feet in their shoes and they can steer themselves in any direction they choose."

Haystack Butte - Augusta, Montana
Photo shared by Rhett Young