Monday, November 23, 2015

Rivers that feed our sea of souls

“Loving our not loving should be like coffee or tea; people should be allowed to decide. How else are we to get over all our dead and the women we’ve lost?”
“Maybe we shouldn’t.”
“You think so? Not get over it, but… then? What then? What task do the departed want us to do?”
That was the question that Jean Perdu had been unable to answer for all these years.
Until now. Now he knew.
“To carry them within us—that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost, then…then we are no longer present either.”
Jean looked at the Allier River, glittering in the moonlight.
“All the love, all the dead, all the people we’ve known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up too.”
He felt an overwhelming inner thirst to seize life with both hands before time sped past even faster. He didn’t want to die of thirst; he wanted to be as wide and free as the see—full and deep. He longed for friends. He wanted to love….”

From: The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel, by Nina George, pages 190-191.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Where your heart is or where you want it to be?

Give and spend where you want your heart to be, and then let your heart catch up. Don’t just give to those things you care about. Give to things you want to care about. Ask yourself, “If I were the sort of person I long to be, then what would I do? How would I spend my money?” Then do what you would do if you were that sort of person. Put your treasure where you want your heart to be. If you do, says Jesus, your heart will go there. If you want to care more about the kind of car you drive, buy an expensive one. If you want to care more about property values, remodel your house. But if you want to grow in your faith, bring an offering to God.
Wherever your treasure is, your heat is sure to follow. Here as elsewhere in the scriptural tradition, we are not told to feel a certain way, but enjoined to act in a certain manner. After all, feelings, unlike actions, cannot be governed by simple will…. Turn you cheek. Give to those who beg from you. Prayer for your enemies. Give thanks to God. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Nike could have borrowed its motto from Jesus: “Just do it.”

By Martin B. Copenhaver, Christian Century, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Processing an Amazon encounter

I’ve something to process. By writing to you it may help. I’ve thought of sharing it on our store’s blog, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Well, a few days later, I guess that it is.

Last week Amazon opened, with much media fanfare, its first bricks and mortar bookstore. It’s in the University Village upscale shopping center in Seattle. As things worked out last week we had a visit from the sales rep of our biggest supplier of books and publisher, Bryan. Nancy told Bryan that Amazon had opened their first bricks and mortar store to his jaw dropping astonishment. 

Amazon, by their radical business model of selling books below the wholesale price has forced tens of thousands of independent bookstores out of business. It is the height of chutzpah for them now to open their own bricks and mortar store. Bryan took us to lunch after his business meeting with us was completed. Before we stopped at a restaurant we visited the new Amazon store. The response of all three of us, try as I could to look at the store in an unbiased attitude, was very critical. 

The store’s appearance, inside and out, fits with the other retailers in University Village. The building fits Seattle-rich-and-prosperous with an outdoorsy flair. All wooden flooring. All rough wood shelving. Lots of light, tall ceiling with floor-to-ceiling windows. As a bookstore the bookshelves were very tall and aisles too narrow where if one does not know the person in the aisle it is uncomfortable to squeeze by the person. All books are displayed face-out with many copies, one title I estimated with 20 copies behind each other. And the books are displayed floor to top of book rack which means if you want to really see the title and cover of the books on the bottom shelf you need to squat way down or kneel.

Instruction signs informing us that to know Amazon’s price for a title you simply scan the bar code with your smart phone using the Amazon app and your smart phone will display the price. I took a book to Check Out to have her scan the bar code and then tell me the price. Later I located a scanner that customers can use on their own to determine today’s price for a title, but the scanner was poorly marked and out of the way.

Down the center of the store was a huge display of Amazon products including the Fire tablet and Kindle, as well as computer apps controlled by handheld devices.

Our sales rep Bryan was astonished at the price of the book after I was informed by the woman at Check Out. He indicated that the price was below wholesale and that his publisher did not sell books at such a discount. As a publisher he shared with us that Amazon is the most difficult supplier to work with. They have very detailed requirements that the publisher must meet, even including the specific size of pallets on which they accept shipments (so that the robots in the Amazon warehouses can access the products).

To conclude, the store obviously cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct and had a large number of employees while selling books below the price that they pay for them. And Amazon can try out a bricks and mortar store as a promotional item without regard to cost. It is a business practice that has obviously worked in their favor while causing huge problems for traditional retailers and producers of products.

Thankfully we found their religion section to be small with titles of little depth to the content. There was not a single bible displayed. Nancy found one book in the section that we carry in our niche market store.

I felt kind of like a Bernie Sanders supporter attending a Donald Trump media event. I could see no reason that I would want to return to that store and shop.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Some resources for daily meditations

As in so many aspects of our lives there are opinions and advice from those we may know but who are not well known, and there are the opinions and advice from others who have spent their professional lives studying and discerning at a deeper level. For those of us who browse the Episcopal Bookstore’s website I humbly suggest the meditations of these talented, thoughtful and faithful souls (in no particular order):

Frederica Mathewes-Green

A website with daily thoughtful meditations:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

When is it safe to risk?

Written on the white board at the gym yesterday was this: When is it safe to risk?
I find that question an interesting ponderable. Here are some of my thoughts about it today.
A risk is by definition hazardous and can cause harm. Being safe appears to be the opposite of risk. To safely face a risky challenge one can practice actions that will reduce the risks of the challenge. Perhaps with enough practice and preparation what seemed risky previously becomes something manageable and therefore not a risk.
On the other hand we trade off safety in a risky situation for a resulting better good. A parent will take many risks in order to help their child be safe, perhaps even choosing to die so that a child may live. I have a friend who is in major surgery as I write this. He has chosen to take the risk of the surgery and the removal of a vital organ of which he has only one so that he has a better chance of safely living longer. By weighing the merits and risks of a particular action we hopefully choose the path that will be best in the long term.
Being always the safest, in this adventure called living, is not living to our potential. Likewise taking risks for which we are adequately not prepared is perhaps one definition of stupid.
I think that courage comes from knowing the risks, facing the risks, in order to try to achieve a safe end, either for ourselves or for others.
But then, I’m human and therefore I may be wrong about this.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop

Here are a few descriptions from The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George. (It’s not found on the shelves of our store. I do read other books than those in our inventory.)

From page 1
It is a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people. 

From page 34
Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some.. well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair.

From page 42
Often it’s not we who shape words, but the words we use that shape us.