Monday, April 07, 2008


Vicki reporting in from a motel room in Cle Elum, Wash. Where there is a sign at the entrance to the town telling visitors how many arrests the police have made so far this year.

I spent the weekend in Vancouver and Victoria on a mini booksigning tour. And I am happy to report that it went very well. I was well received in all the stores and sold a bunch of books. Bunch is, of course, a relative term. Ian Rankin probably has a good signing when he sells a bunch of boxes of books. But there are people in Vancouver and Victoria tonight reading a book of mine that they wouldn’t otherwise and that makes me happy.

Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I ‘profile’ people who come into the store. There are types of people I don’t bother to approach. Anyone (male) who wears the crotch of his pants around his knees, or anyone (female) who can hardly walk in her shoes. I never bother with anyone who looks to be between the ages of 9 and 29, although I sometimes do give book marks to little kids. Other than that, I don’t approach anyone in the company of a child in a stroller or toddler by the hand. And, of course, anyone yakking on a cell phone (I guess that’s a natch).

I see a prospective mark, uh customer, approaching, and quickly size them up. Do they look like a book buyer, or are they heading straight for Starbucks? Incidentally, you can no longer expect that anyone in a book store is looking to buy a book. They might be only visiting the coffee shop, or wanting to buy candles or tea cups, the sort of thing that is increasingly pushing books off the shelves in bookstores – but that can be another post. Do they look like the sort that would like my books? Middle-aged women are best, and some middle-aged men. Men with scruffy beards and T-Shirts advertising video games or Star Wars are not good prospects. Elderly people rarely buy books – although they do take my information and say they’ll look for the book in their library.

I’d like to know how other writers handle the streams of people pouring into the store and passing by their table. Do you approach everyone who comes through the door? Do you approach no one and expect them to come to you? What about the people who can’t look at you and slither by – do you stop them anyway?

I was going to make the focus of this post on how younger people can be counted on not to buy books. But then I read the following in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, part of Leah McLaren’s column:

The only thing educated upper-middle-class white people seem to enjoy more than reading books and newspapers is discussing the fact that no one else but them appears to enjoy reading books and newspapers.
So I won’t.

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