The sad thing was a letter I got in the mail, informing me that my first novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, was going out of print in hardcover. This was awful to read. My little book, which took me 10 years to write, was dying (at least in hardcover) after a short two year run. My poor book!
But the letter went on to explain that before the boxes of books sold to “remainder” at auction (so that they might go to live at Big Lots or somewhere equally magical, if not to a chipper. Eek!), I would be able to buy some copies. As many as I wanted. VERY CHEAPLY!
This got me thinking about all the emails I’ve been getting all fall, about how RIF is having its funding cut, and about how libraries are being closed, and about how some kids have little-to-no books in the home. So I asked how many books they had in the warehouse. They told me about 800 copies were left. 800 copies. Only 800?
So I did something INSANE! I pulled out my credit card and bought every last book. EVERY SINGLE COPY!
Ever wonder what 800 books looks like, in the back of a Honda Oddyssey? It looks like this!
Indeed, you CAN fit 800 books, 2 small kids, and all your groceries (up front) in a mini-van. But you’ll ride REAL LOW!
So then, once I had the books, I took them to some friends of mine.
First, and most importantly, I took a lot of books to Joe Davich, at the INCREDIBLE Georgia Center for the Book, at the Decatur Library. He offered to help the books find homes in libraries across the state, so that I wouldn’t have to pay shipping costs to get my books into the hands of readers.
YAY, JOE! Not only did he accept the books, and help them find a home, he put up with my adorable kids taking his picture and “helping” him. Which went something like this:
Don’t worry, I helped too!!!
After we finished “helping” Joe, we headed over to the best bookstore in the universe, Little Shop of Stories, where Diane Capriola (because devoted indie bookstore owners don’t have enough to do) had generously offered to store and deliver another few hundred copies for me, to a wonderful 4th grade class, so that the kids could all have a book to take home for the holidays. Yay, Glenwood Academy!!! (and yay, Diane!)
(Seriously, I can’t imagine this town without Diane and Dave and Krista and everyone else at LSOS)
Finally, I was down to a few boxes, so I ran by the elementary schools in my own neighborhood, and dropped off copies with some awesome media specialists. They were all about as friendly and nice as they could possibly be. I promised to go back and visit soon, at Toomer Elementary and Parkside Elementary and Burgess Elementary and the Neighborhood Charter school too!
And so now I’m done. The car is empty, and the money is spent, but the books… the books… the books are where I wanted them to be all along. From the moment I began writing. The books are with kids.
Because some bookshelves look like this.
And they really don’t need to.
This spring I’m going to sit down and try to think of a way to help other authors do what I’ve done. I have in mind a matching program, to pair donors and authors up, to buy books at hugely reduced rates, and then coordinate the gift through a library system or school that would handle distribution.
This cost me a lot of money, but when I think of 800 books getting into the hands of kids who don’t have enough access to books, it feels like it cost me almost nothing.
And if I can only find a clever accountant to help me write some of this off, I’ll do it all again the NEXT time I go out of print.
I can hardly wait!!!!