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Bookstore Readings

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books marketing trends on June 15, 2010

Amy Karol book reading

Do you attend bookstore readings? I am fortunate to live in Portland, Oregon, home to many bookstores, including the venerable Powell’s Books. I could probably go to a bookstore reading on a daily basis, and I often read through the listings in the local paper with great interest. The truth, though, is that I rarely go to bookstore readings. I never gave it much thought other than to attribute it to laziness, but then I saw this article, “The Dreaded Question: What is a ‘Reading’?” in the Huffington Post. The piece is by bookstore owner Alex Green, who talks about how the label “reading” is not quite accurate. He writes that “many of us are reluctant to attend a reading because we don’t know what one is, and we become afraid that something egregiously uncomfortable, or boring, is going to happen.” Green then goes on to explain that readings, at least at his bookstore, are engaging and lively discussions.

Green’s article made me question why I don’t attend more bookstore readings, and I think he is right—I think they are going to be kind of boring. I fully expect the author to read a chapter or two from a book, and thanks, but I can do that on my own at home. I would rather know about the author’s writing process or reasons for writing a particular book, or maybe I want to know the author’s favorite flavor of ice cream. If Green is correct that “readings” are actually conversations between authors and readers, then I could get on board, but really, it’s hard to know what to really expect. So, what do you think of bookstore readings? Do you attend? Look forward to them? What do you like about readings?

*The photo is from the last “reading” I attended. It was at Powell’s Books for my friend Amy Karol, author of Bend the Rules Sewing and Bend the Rules with Fabric. At the “reading” she displayed and discussed some of projects in the book, took questions, signed books, and hosted a cakewalk, so no, it wasn’t a typical reading.


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