December 17, 2008

Burritos for Books

It’s been snowy and icy in the Pacific Northwest this week, making this the least auspicious time of the year to go jump in a lake.

So that’s what 12 Seattle-are poets did. (Above, one poet lost her glasses.) But before leaping into the frosty arms of Green Lake each plunging poet did a recital of his or her own work. One was a certain Dr. Clinton Bliss, who rhapsodized, “The coronary arteries tighten up and cut the blood flow. If there already has been a narrowing of the arteries, it could precipitate heart attack or arrhythmia."

Oh, my bad, that’s the doctor describing vasoplasm, a potentially fatal reaction of the body after it's subjected to extreme cold. Bliss's actual poem was about a polar bear “swimming, skimming bottom, bubbles beating time.”
This surreality (above, VW's riff on Magritte) was especially welcome after receiving two sobering messages yesterday. The first was a forward from this blog regarding Portland independent bookseller Broadway Books. Below, the owner's son writes:
"This store is my mother's passion and she's been an outstanding success in her endeavors [for nearly 20 years].... my father told me that business this winter season at my mom's store had been incredibly bleak. So much so that the future of the store could possibly be in jeopardy....
To help publicize the store's plight, this devoted son will buy a burrito for anyone who can show a receipt from the store for over $50. (Man, I dropped $75 there the other month! Why didn't I wait?)

UPDATE, 1/22/09: Broadway Books survived, and 25 people took advantage of the burrito offer.

On the heels of this news came this posting from Around the Sun that two other local indies, Twenty-Third Avenue Books and In Other Words Women’s Books and Resources are in dire financial straits. The latter store needs to raise $11,000 by the end of December, and the former's website states that they're toast “UNLESS we can find a buyer, an angel investor, or somehow rally the community to SAVE OUR SHOP!

UPDATE, 1/22/09: In Other Words Survived. Twenty-Third Avenue Books did not.

While these are Portland businesses, stores worldwide are having a tough go of it. So if you’re planning on buying books for the holidays, opt for your local independents. Not only does your dollar has a far greater impact there, it may well stave off a bookstore’s vasoplasm.


tbooth said...

Burritos for books--an innovative marketing hook for these hard times. As one of your many publishers, Bart, I encourage you to consider something similar. What could you offer to someone showing up at your door with a receipt showing purchase of your oeuvre--besides your sympathy?


Bart King said...

Well, I do have a lot of whoopie-cushions. Seriously!