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Birthday Reflections

Submitted by lizabernard on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 6:05am


24 candleAfter 24 years, Penny and I have officially put the Norwich Bookstore up for sale! We do not have a deadline; we are definitely not planning to close. We trust that, with time and patience, we will find the right person or team to guide the store into the future.

Saturday's celebration is our annual customer appreciation day. We are thankful for the incredible support of our community: local folks who come in for books, gifts and cards; travelers who discover us and are happy to find an indie bookstore; teachers and librarians who work with us to educate and entertain children; businesses that incorporate books in their promotions; authors who come to our neck of the woods to read and sign their creations; in short, everyone who has been part of this bookish journey.

If you have questions or ideas on the next phase for the Norwich Bookstore, please let us know. And in the meanwhile, join us at the party on Saturday, August 4th! ~ Liza

July 4th Musings

Submitted by lizabernard on Sun, 07/08/2018 - 6:56am


Immigrants, migrants, refugees, aliens, guests, tourists, visitors; all words for folks who are not where they originally began. We are almost all displaced at one time or another, for short or extended periods of time sometimes voluntarily, often not. Some of us leave our homes to escape dangerous situations - either domestic or political. Others travel to another country to study and expand their horizons.

How did we come to vilify a whole segment of the world’s population just because we can stick a label on them? Most travelers from Mexico or Muslim countries are not the criminals that some of our fear-mongering politicians would have us believe. Many come seeking asylum. 

Our nation was built by waves of immigration from abroad, and migrations within our boundaries. Who decided that the last one in gets to slam the door? 

immigration table displayIf we are to have order, we need to have regulations and procedures for passage into and out of the country. And those must be fair and executed in a timely manner. Dreamers who are part of the fabric of this culture need to have a clear path to stay. To have crops rot for want of pickers helps no one. Ripping families apart hurts everyone, not just the grieving parents and traumatized children. 

What does our current climate on immigration say about us as a country, a culture? I am composing these thoughts on July 4th, a day to mark our nation’s independence. Sadly, I am unable to celebrate; I am in mourning for Lady Liberty’s welcoming history.

May we rise above the fear and embrace the “other” as a person with his or her own unique story. ~ Liza

(Plesase stop by and browse our display of book on this topic!)

A New Neighbor!

Submitted by lizabernard on Mon, 06/04/2018 - 1:11pm

blue sparrow kitchenWe are thrilled to welcome Amber Boland and Blue Sparrow Kitchen to the Norwich Square! It is wonderful to have people of all ages hanging out again: eating, visiting, and playing around the bookstore - both the real one and the child-sized version on the lawn!

Amber was born and raised in NH and lives in Lyme. Her husband, Kurt, a property manager and contractor, built the welcoming and comfortable space in the former Alice’s/Allechante/NS Cafe location. Sip your latte at the counter or enjoy lunch with friends at one of the small tables - inside or out!

n sq & little houseThe still-evolving family-friendly menu includes freshly made sandwiches, soups, salads, smoothies, desserts, and milkshakes! They also plan to have a selection of prepared foods, including dinner-to-go. They are focusing on locally sourced ingredients as much as possible - cheeses and meats as well as baked goods.

And they are open great hours: Monday - Friday 6:30 am - 5:00 pm and Saturday 10:30 am - 8:00 pm. Please join us in giving them a hearty welcome! ~ Liza
 

If it ain't broke...

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 6:38am

rebootComputers: we love ‘em and hate ‘em!

Six years ago we invested in a major update of our computer systems, moving from a DOS based (from the dinosaur age) server to a new state-of-the-art platform that allowed us to do so much more, so much faster.

Then came the periodic updates. Were they improvements? Probably. Did they create problems? Sometimes. Gradually, the software outgrew the hardware and we were running adolescent computers trying to keep up in the adult world.

On paper, the simple solution is to replace the computers, but in real life, that is not so easy. We started with one workstation. After 12 hours and 2 tech support folks trying to help, we finally had it functioning. Then there was an update - just a week after installation - and suddenly nothing worked!

At this point, my definition of re-boot is not what tech support intended… Wish us luck! ~ Liza

(originally posted 5.3.18)

A Level Playing Field?

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 6:31am

fieldTrade wars are not “easy to win”! As with other conflicts, collateral damage is hard to predict.

I am not an expert in the machinations of the global economy though I do know first hand what it is like to be in a business that is trying to run on an uneven playing field. Rather than being up against a foreign government and its policies, the Norwich Bookstore and other small retailers are challenged by our own local and federal support of big corporations. 

When a discount chain or a mega-corporation comes to a region, they ask for tax breaks and other incentives. The big internet retailers were offered big breaks when they were startups 20+ years ago that they still enjoy. Those same businesses pay their employees so little and offer no benefits or flexibility that the workers must rely on other services that cost taxpayers, which is essentially another form of underwriting the business. Meanwhile, their CEO’s have huge salaries. 

The bookstore pays a fair - though not high - wage. We wish it could be higher. Believe me when I say that the owners are not paid more than the workers! We pay property tax via our lease and collect Vermont sales tax. We also donate generously to many Upper Valley not-for-profit programs and organizations. We creatively foster the vitality of our region however we can. 

There are many places and ways to shop. Please think of us and other local merchants first when you are looking to purchase books and gifts. Help level the playing field because we want to keep playing this crazy bookselling game! ~ Liza 

(originally posted 4.19.18)
 

“Empathy Delivery Devices we call books…"

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 6:21am

after the shot dropsNovels promote empathy, or so studies show. I recently read After the Shot Drops which allowed me, a 60-something white woman in Vermont, to explore the world of two black, urban, High School guys who are into basketball! Two best friends deal with a split when one starts attending a local private school and major athletic rival. Misunderstandings, loyalties, and bad choices have long-term consequences for these young men. Through the novel, I came to care about them and their concerns.

Empathy, a major factor in promoting civility, is sorely lacking at the moment, locally AND globally. We can learn from another’s perspective. It is important to disagree, we need to be heard, and we must exercise empathy to understand others. Books can help achieve this goal of civil discourse.

Young adult author, Gayle Foreman, referred to books as “Empathy Delivery Devices”  in her new book I Have Lost My Way and I borrowed the phrase. By reading books, lots of books - fiction and non-fiction, for kids and adults, printed and in audio format - I expand my world. ~ Liza 

(originally posted 5.17.18)

 

No Humans Needed

Submitted by lizabernard on Sat, 05/26/2018 - 8:18am

robotCan you imagine a bookstore run by robots? The first of 20 just opened in Beijing! You just register your real name using your WeChat account (like Facebook) and have your face scanned before entering. Because the store has access to all your purchasing information, it claims it can offer "precise and humanized" book suggestions. 

This is disturbing on so many levels. First is the loss of privacy that comes with this digital age. Because I research books for many of our customers, my search history indicates a very confused consumer at best!

Next is the isolation that is encouraged by removing people from even simple retail transactions. Our society is so fragmented that sometimes a cheerful greeting can brighten an entire day.

The robot store book selection is "limited to popular bestsellers that aren't regularly updated.” A big contrast to independent booksellers who spend hours and days reviewing forthcoming books. As we scan catalogs, we have our community in mind: Do we know someone who might be excited by this new author? Is there current interest in a book on making beaded jewelry? Hiking the AT? Cooking Thai food? Is there a gap in our selection of field guides? Are we weak on cozy mysteries? Do we need more young adult gothic fantasies? In other words, we work hard to curate our selection to fit our community.

If the 24/7 aspect of the store is attractive, on our website you can order a bestseller or peruse our staff picks and see what the Book Jam blog is recommending. And then stop by the store for a friendly welcome, free gift wrap, and perhaps a treat for your pup!

check I am not a robot. ~ Liza 

(originally posted 3.22.18)

#MeToo & Books...

Submitted by lizabernard on Sat, 05/26/2018 - 8:03am

#metoo by donnellyThe #MeToo movement has shined a spotlight on some dark corners of our culture including the publishing world. Several prominent authors have been accused of - and some have apologized for - sexual harassment and misconduct. Book contracts have been scrapped, finished copies have even been pulled and pulped! Awards have been renamed.

While I believe it is important to call out bad behavior that has been tolerated until now and put an end to it where possible, censoring books is not the solution. Some of these works may actually have come about because of a troubled world view held by the writer. Can we learn from them?

We have not pulled the books by Sherman Alexie - one of the authors who has expressed regret for past behavior - from our shelves. Our customers can decide if the message of his works is separate from the man himself. We will, however, not be inviting him to come and speak at the store!

How could we ever make judgment calls about the authors of all the books we carry? At best we would have incomplete information on most. Who knows how Jack London, Charles Dickens, Kenneth Graham, or Henrik Ibsen treated women? Ernest Hemingway was a womanizer; do we not stock For Whom the Bell Tolls? 

We can listen to and honor the truths of the women and men who have been wronged. We can make sure that we represent and celebrate writing from a diverse pool of authors from different genders, races, religions, nationalities, and perspectives.  That is our job and our pleasure. ~ Liza 

(originally posted 4.4.18)

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