“It was a dark and stormy night. No light shown in the window.”
Only 1098 words to go. See how easy it is.
Local authors Randy Pearson and Rosalie Petrouske wanted to draw attention to the plight of independent bookstores and they settled on a writing contest “Save the Independent Bookstore.”
Pearson said the writing contest has a few rules: the theme must include a small town independent bookstore; the short story must not exceed 1,111 words (Randy’s birthday); you must be 14 years of age or older and the deadline for entry is July 31, 2013.
There is a $10 entry fee per story and there will be a minimum first place prize of $50. It could grow depending on the number of entries. Petrouske said 50 percent of the entry fees will go to the Capital Area Literacy Foundation and the winning entry will be included in the next “Writing from the Ledges”, an anthology due out in December
Pearson said as a writer he is committed to the small bookstores which have helped him sell his independently published novel “Driving Crazy.”
He said he is worried about the future of small bookstores and was motivated to do something when he learned that Scott Harris, proprietor of EVERYbody Reads on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, returned to his insurance business to keep the store open.
“That saddened me. EVERYbody Reads has been open six years and Scott has never taken any money out of the store. Small bookstores are going to go away if we don’t buy books at them.”
Pearson also said that local bookstores do more than sell books and are community resources where you can come to browse, talk and meet.
Harris is a practical man and says that the local economy, online book sales, and the advent of the e-book was a perfect storm for him.
“A perfect storm to not open a bookstore.”
He said in the short time he has been open he observed more and more people going on line to buy books or to download them especially among college students who were once major supporters of EVERYbody Reads.
People still seem to be buying big-ticket items, but they are showing more restraint when it comes to buying items like books, he said.
The Lansing area is fortunate to have two Schuler Books, an independently owned store celebrating 30 years, and two used book stores, Curious Book Shop and Archives Book Shop; however none are located within the city of Lansing. Lansing is not alone in that regard, cities such as East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Bay City, Saginaw, Flint and Detroit are without bookstores selling new releases. On the other hand smaller resort cities such as Traverse City and Petoskey can boast two independent bookstores each.
Rosalie Petrouske, a Lansing Community College writing instructor, who is one of the founders of the writing group Writing at the Ledges and a poet and author said she has seen small bookstores close “too many times” and hopes the short story contest will bring awareness to their plight.
“It’s fun going into a locally owned bookstore. They know your name and you get personal service.”
She said there is lot of things going on around Lansing for writers and cited the Ledges writing group as an example. The Writing at the Ledges keeps growing in size and is in its sixth year.
Nationally, independent bookstores are faring no better and over the last decade more than 500 have closed. With the sale of e-books exceeding the sale of physical books and with nearly one-third of senior readers owning e-readers the future doesn’t look bright. Even successful small town bookstores are cutting back on titles, selling more gift items and scrambling to get on author tours.
He knows things change. Some Lansing residents still talk about the classic old-time bookstore Ellison’s Books in downtown Lansing where author Jim Harrison was said to have read from “Lolita.” Before it was Ellison’s the building located just kitty-corner from Knapps was an indoor putty golf course and before that a livery stable. It’s now a parking lot proving evolution in an urban world isn’t always a positive undertaking.
It was a dark and stormy night. Only the light from a single volume illuminated the bookstore window. It was like a beacon calling me in.
1085 words to go.
Former Lansing State Journal Columnist John Schneider will serve as one of the judges along with Harris, Petrouske and Pearson. The winner will also receive a copy of “Voices from the Ledges” and a chance to read the piece at a winner’s party at EVERYbody Reads.
For more information on the contest and submission rules visit http://www.writingattheledges.com/writing-contest