The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.
Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For August, we are featuring Words Worth Books in Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook!
1. Tell us a little bit about the history of Words Worth Books:
Mandy Brouse and I bought Words Worth Books from the previous owners, Chuck Erion and Tricia Siemens who founded the shop in 1984.
We recently moved the store to another uptown Waterloo location and hope to be here for a long time ourselves.
2. What made you want to open a bookstore?
As far as taking the shop on, we don’t know how to do anything else, and we can’t see beyond that. Or at least we don’t care to look too hard.
3. What do you like best about your career in books?
The very best thing about bookselling is the absolute authenticity it provides. Perhaps other retail allows for similar passion, but selling shoes or sporting goods doesn’t seem as authentic. Every day we get to talk enthusiastically to people about something we really do love.
That’s a rarity anywhere, it’s certainly a rarity at one’s job.
4. What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?
Independent bookstores and independent business of all kinds provide a tax base for thousands of urban centres in North America. From a purely economic standpoint, everything collapses if that’s not kept up.
But indie bookstores are entirely staffed by readers. Chain stores are not, and if plants don’t get watered they wither away.
5. What is the hardest part about being a bookstore owner in 2012?
The hardest part of bookselling in 2012 is the simple fact that there are so many other entertainment options and fierce competition within the industry.
‘Twas ever thus.
6. What types of books does your store stock and/or specialize in?
Words Worth Books is a general bookstore so we try to get to everything in our stock. Literary fiction, crime fiction, history, sciences and all manner of everything else.
7. What are some of your favorite titles?
Our favourite titles change daily to weekly, but the book I’m wild about at the moment is a slick little crime novel by a Montrealer Robert Pobi. Bloodman is an entirely accomplished first novel in which an FBI man on Long Island has to solve a series of grisly murders in the teeth of a Katrina-like storm that’s days away. I’d actually like to buy stock in the guy’s career if it becomes possible. He’s that good.
8. What is your most current best seller?
Our current best sellers are the same as elsewhere I imagine. It’s a Fifty Shades planet right now. The rest of us just live on it.
The filming of Gatsby is giving the book a new audience and that’s a fine thing.
9. What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?
We’ve done author events for twenty years and the best one is probably having former Prime Minister Jean Chretien drop by about five years back.
Actually, we’ve got something on that level coming this fall, I just can’t talk about it yet.
It’s a heck of a perk meeting authors and one of the best parts of the job.
10. Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories?
Crazy stories? The fact that in the press, it’s said constantly that ebooks are taking over.
They’re certainly beyond the early adapter, but they’re far from taking the print option off the table.
A crazy story if ever there was one.
11. What book are you, or will you, hand-sell with a vengeance?
I’ll be hand selling Dana Spiota’s Stone Arabia this summer.
It’s not only the Great American novel, but the Great American rock and roll novel. Damn near flawless.
12. Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?
For your readers, I’d simply ask that you shop indie bookstores. We know our stuff and we’re more likely to hire you than Amazon is.