Reflections and Pots of Gold

Tis the season for holiday celebrations, and when we have time to breathe, reflection on the year that is whirling toward its end. Last week I inadvertently insulted a friend-of-a-friend when I said I wasn’t in it [bookselling] for the money. We were at a holiday party and our conversation may have been slightly impaired by several glasses of wine. Regardless, I meant what I said and I wasn’t implying there is something wrong with making money. I just didn’t go into the bookselling business because I saw a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – I would be happy with a cup full. So this got me thinking about the reasons I wanted to buy the shop and if I still felt the same way a year-and-a-half later.

When we bought The Book Garden in the summer of 2012, our area Borders had recently closed its doors, and book stores were being touted as a thing of the past. I knew in my heart that with the right mix of creativity, business savvy, hard work, love and luck The Book Garden could be a thriving community center. Thankfully, my business partner, Robert, agreed with me. Just a few months after we took over the shop Ann Patchett came along with “The Book Store Strikes Back.” I felt even more hopeful, not to mention vindicated.

How I ended up as a bookseller is a topic for another time. This week I wanted to share some of the reasons I love what I do and to ask for others to share their reasons for being in the book business. Here is my partial list in random order of importance –

  1. The idea of being able to just pick up a book, any book, in my shop and read. I say the IDEA of it because the reality is that I now have to schedule time to read a book!
  2. Being able to bring my dog to work.
  3. Watching my daughter lounged out in one of the mauve comfy chairs in our front room with her face buried in a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
  4. Getting to know Elizabeth Gilbert, Marta McDowell, Michael Rushnak, Skye Van Saun, Rayya Elias, Maryann McFadden, Mary Lou Quinlan, Jonathan Miles, John Smith, Marina Gottlieb Sarles and so many other wonderful authors whose stories enrich our lives.
  5. Dancing in the Read-In kitchen with the kids in our World Explorers book club to their rap rendition of Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece.missing piece
  6. The surprise visits of friends from years past who always knew I’d own a bookstore one day (glad they had a clue).
  7. Making new friends and meeting kindred spirits.
  8. Learning about the AT (Appalachian Trail) from one Absolutely Fabulous thru-hiker, writer-in-residence and aspiring author, Fab.
  9. Watching a crowd cheering and demanding an encore after poet John Smith recited several poems on our front porch.
  1. And just the other evening witnessing a room filled with the magic of prose and poetry, music and delicious food as we joined forces with a local restaurant, The Lovin’ Oven and celebrated our amazing community and Liz Gilbert’s new novel, The Signature of All Things – more on that amazing night in a future blog.P1070936
  1. And most importantly, being a part of an ongoing celebration of stories.

Maybe I did find that pot of gold after all.

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Caroline Scutt is the co-owner of The Book Garden in Frenchtown, NJ. While she is relatively new to the retail side of publishing, Caroline’s professional writing career began in 1992 as a reporter for "Travel Weekly" newspaper and she has recently published her first novel, Some Girls.
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