I don’t pretend that many of you are particularly interested in my non-academic world of bookselling. This is one of the reasons (but definitely not the only one) I don’t post around too much. I’m going to make an exception today, though. (a) It’s a rainy week in Oakland — which over the past few years has become so exceptional that it must be a sign of something, doom or glory (the difference probably being negligible, if we’re honest). (b) I wrote something broadly in the remit of An und für sich, and I’m duty-bound as one with administrative rights to post it. Such was the strict wording of the contract Adam made me sign in those heady days of pre- & un-employment when we started this thing.
Literary Hub published a piece of mine this week in their Bookselling in the 21st Century series, “From the Seminary to the Bookstore.” I feared what I’d submitted was overly confessional / personal. You who know me are maybe wondering: “Do you write anything else?” That’d be a fair question. White, post-angsty white guy. I check all the narcissist boxes. (This is one of the reasons I don’t write much, period, btw — but, as above, definitely not the only one.) The response, however, has been as surprising as it has been moving. Readers, mostly fellow booksellers and publishing sorts, seem (happily!) mostly to be looking past all the me in the story I tell, and are finding parts of themselves and their stories . . . whether traditional confessions still slip their tongues or have long done so between their fingers. Its publication coincided with a trade show in San Francisco, which occasioned people I barely knew — some not at all — to thank me for having written it. I’m rarely touched, but the clear emotional (or whatever) connection some have found in the piece has prompted me to throw braggadocio caution to the wind and tell others about it.