Independent booksellers and local writers: it’s a literary marriage made in book heaven. The owner of the new Battle Creek Books, Jim Donahue, and “tween” author Sandy Carlson of Battle Creek fully agree.
Donahue opened the doors of his bookstore in April. After more than 30 years as a geriatric doctor at VA Hospital in Battle Creek, the Brooklyn, New York native decided it was time for a career change. Donahue says he believes his store can join the national resurgence of independent bookstores. And he says that includes beneficial collaboration with local writers like Sandy Carlson.
Carlson is a retired elementary school teacher who writes historical fiction and fantasy for children ages 8 to 14. She is now tutoring dyslexic children and lecturing in schools to encourage reading and the fun of storytelling. His books include The city that has disappeared; War unicorn; Winter logging; Tales of the lost schooner; Stacks of Flapjacks; Fires; and Opening of the stars.
“I must have called Jim three or four times before he even opened the bookstore,” laughs Carlson. She says local authors are always keen to establish good business relationships with local booksellers. Having an indie in town offers authors a place to sell books and author events. These events give booksellers increased traffic.
Both view reading trends from sometimes similar and sometimes opposing viewpoints. Carlson says that as an author, it doesn’t matter to her whether buyers read her books electronically or in print. “As long as they read my books. I want to give them all the options.
Donahue says he prefers the “old school” printed books to the electronic variety. He reminds readers that when buying an eBook, “you’re not really buying a book; you buy the license to read the book. You also cannot share with a friend or family member.
When it comes to reading trends, both the author and the bookseller are seeing positive changes. Carlson talks about positive peer pressure in children and youth.
“With the kids at school, they always read on their own,” she says. “And peer pressure, especially with kids who have more difficulty reading… they’ll choose more difficult books just because their classmates read them, and they’ll carry them everywhere. They have a hard time getting through it, but they have read the book. Reading, especially for children, will be there forever.
Donahue says adults read too, and they read heavy books. “They come out with books like (Ray Bradbury’s) Fahrenheit 451, Edgar Allen Poe collections, that sort of thing.
Battle Creek Books has a placeholder in the front of the store for local authors and books on local topics, including Carlson’s books.
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