Open Wounds

Road Trip: Day 4 – Engine Light

Fountain Bookstore Richmond

Autozone said there were five different problems with the engine. We checked the oil, the transmission fluid, the gas cap, and the water. All four were good. Our mechanic in Queens, Steve, who takes phone calls from South Carolina, said get back on the road and don’t worry about it. Just keep driving. He’ll check it out when we get back but he’s not worried. Okay.

Doc and me at Fountain Books

Green iced tea from Starbucks.

Karen’s driving. We’re off to Atlanta. I’ve got plans for three stores to visit. Karen and Max are going to hit the pool. I’m going to try and meet Amy from Lady Reader and Matt from the QQQE – two bloggers I”ve corresponded with and whose blogs I follow. It’ll be cool putting faces to words. It’s all about the relationships.

***

But before I forget here’s my report from yesterday on the two bookstores I hit in North Carolina.

Fly Leaf Books

Fly Leaf Books

Fly Leaf Bookstore

Fly Leaf bookstore in Chapel Hill is the absolute most beautiful bookstore I’ve seen in a while. Some independent stores are quirky, some small, some big and overfilled, some sparse on the shelves and heavy on the muffins, but Fly Leaf, oh this is a beautifully laid out store. There’s a great kids space. The shelves have staff picks marked and easily read all over the place – very colorful and eye appealing. The color of the store just says come in, sit down, gaze at books, read, read, read, ahhhhhh. Seriously this is a good-looking store. The owner Jamie was very nice considering I had no appointment and she was on her own while the others were on break. Still I threw Kelly Justice’s name in the mix (thanks again Kelly) and yes, Jamie took a moment from the register to bring my book back to her store partner and kid’s buyer for review. Max bought two books there and I wanted to buy one also but I’m banned from hardcovers for a while as we’re out of space back home. Behemoth is calling to me though.

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh was also a great looking bookstore, filled with books and music. They were busy but Sally, a very helpful and busy bookseller, did see if the kids buyer was in to speak to me. She was in the middle of an order. I asked Sally if she’d listen to my pitch. She looked at me and then at the register. I could see the “no” without it even being said.

“You’ve got a lot to do right now, don’t you?” I said.

She nodded.

“And you get a lot of people coming in pitching books and products?”

She nodded again and glanced a second time at the register where her colleague was busy.

“But I bet you don’t get many people coming all the way from New York City, do you?” I gave her my biggest shit-eating grin.

This made her smile and she nodded at me. “You have three minutes,” she said. After doing the pitch under three minutes a dozen times at ALA last month I could do this in my sleep.

“Get back to us in two weeks,” she said when I was done. “I’d like to read it myself.” Then she gave me the buyer’s name and email, her email, ideas for where to go in Atlanta, and another smile to take me out the front door.

Charlotte’s was harder to hit yesterday. Bookmark is downtown and parking is terrible. Karen dropped me off. I rolled out of the car and went to the back of the mall where they were situated, pitched one of the owners while a customer came in and ordered other books. I waited oh so patiently. Karen called me on the phone. “There’s no parking.”

The owner said, ‘You got to go?”

I nodded. “I’ll make this quick.”

He took the book and said he’d take a look. Kelly Justice’s name got some attention again. (Thanks’ Kelly.)

***

It’s 2pm on day four and the engine light went off. Steve, the mechanic, was right again. The stress level has eased out of the car in one big exhale.

Atlanta here we come.

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