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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Speech I Should Have Given

On October 7, author Jerry Dennis and artist Glenn Wolff came to Dog Ears Books for the Leelanau County launch of Jerry’s ninth book, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes. I decided almost at the last minute to combine the book signing with a birthday celebration for Dog Ears. (The bookstore turned 18 on July 4, but there was no time to stop for a bookstore birthday party in the middle of summer.) After the event, Jerry asked if I was pleased, and I realized I was only disappointed in myself, for not giving a gracious speech introducing my guests of honor and reflecting briefly on my bookstore’s long life. So here it is now, the speech I should have given.
Welcome, friends, on one of the most beautiful fall afternoons ever in northern Michigan, and thank you for joining us indoors on this occasion. I know it isn’t easy to come inside on a day like today! I do, however, offer you the best of reasons, and that is to welcome as guests to Dog Ears Books author Jerry Dennis and artist Glenn Wolff from Traverse City. Our primary reason for gathering here today is to celebrate, honor and welcome Jerry’s ninth book, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, illustrated by Glenn Wolff. Jerry and Glenn will be happy to sign books for you, with personal inscriptions if you like, and we also have prints of Glenn’s illustrations on hand available for purchase. It is so exciting to have them here! Three cheers for Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff!

A second cause for celebration is that Dog Ears Books turned 18 years old this past summer. I’d like Dog Ears to get to 20 years and beyond, but why wait to celebrate? We’re here now! And as the man says, “Life is uncertain--have dessert first!” I hope you will have a generous piece of birthday cake--chocolate or coconut or both--made by David Chrobak of the Old Mill Pond Inn.

People ask me all the time what I think about the future of books and bookselling, but no one knows the future ahead of time. Will electronic reading devices kill books? Somehow I doubt it. Will Internet selling kill bookstores? I don’t think so. But then, on this lovely October day in 2011, no one knows what future years will bring.

When newspapers first appeared in the 1600s, London booksellers feared that newspapers would put them out of business. It didn’t happen. When television took over the United States in the 1950s, many people predicted the end of reading. That end didn’t come about.

I could go on for a long time about printed, bound books and e-readers, but this is a party, and we have guests of honor, and I want you to spend the evening visiting with them. I do want to say that eighteen years ago, in the little shed down Waukazoo Street next to Woody’s Settling Inn--the shed now completely gone, as Woody’s is also completely gone—I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that Dog Ears would grow and flourish as it has. I never imagined having as guests in my bookstore writers and artists of the stature of Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff and others I have had this year and in recent years. The generosity of creative people overwhelms me, and the public response gratifies me.

And as I thank you all for being here today and thank Jerry and Glenn for coming to Northport, there are two other people who deserve very special thanks. One is my husband, artist David Grath. He has been, in his own words, a “donkey for literature” for all the years Dog Ears Books has been in existence. He has schlepped and hammered and advised on decor and arrangement and done whatever needed to be done. This bookstore would never have been born in the first place without his “perfervid imagination” and hard work. So three cheers for David!

The other angel of Dog Ears Books, for well over a decade now, is Bruce Balas. Bruce began volunteering in the bookstore back on the corner of Mill and Nagonaba. He and my son, Ian, helped David and me move from the corner into 102 Nagonaba, now the home of Dolls and More. He is a reader, a book collector, a tireless and unfailingly cheerful assistant, and without him I would never have a day off all summer long. As David always says, “What would we do without Bruce?” So three cheers for Bruce Balas!

Steve Jobs wasn’t around to give me advice 18 years ago, but somehow I must have intuited the advice he would have given, which boils down to “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Bookselling has not given me wealth, but it has given me a very rich and rewarding life. Dog Ears Books has been very, very good to me.

Thank you all again for being here.

This was to be my one-thousandth post of Books in Northport, but for some reason the number is now at 999. Whatever! I am calling this Post #1000 and give thanks to anyone reading it for visiting. Thanks for regular followers for reading and commenting since 2007. Sarah would thank you, too, if she knew how. If she had the concept. If she had a clue.


Gerry said...

Congratulations, happy birthday and many more. (Miss Sadie and the Cowboy would join in but . . . )

Farshaw' said...


And congratulations!

P. J. Grath said...

Thank you, Gerry and Helen. But you see how I really needed to be the one doing the thanking--my guests, my friends and customers, my husband and our hard-working volunteer. Dare I say "It takes a village"? Part of one, anyway!

Karen Casebeer said...

Congratulations on making so many milestones all at once. Your bookstore is always so inviting, and Sarah does thank everyone as we enter and she gives us a well-behaved welcome and tail wag.
P.S. We had a great turnout last night at Trinity for the discussion of Everyday Justice. Over 40 people came! Thanks for keeping everyone stocked with books. :-)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Pamela! That is a long time for a small business to be hanging in there these days. I'd wish you all the best of luck but you are already lucky to be doing something you love so much on a daily basis. So I'll just say well done instead.

P. J. Grath said...

Karen, I'm so glad you had a good turnout last night. I would have been there if we hadn't had family visiting all weekend--which was LOTS of fun but left us a bit worn out.

Amy-Lynn, I am lucky. Thank you for the kind words. And again, I LOVED your caterpillar post. An apt reflection, indeed.

Dawn said...

Congratulations to you and the bookstore! That's quite a milestone.

P. J. Grath said...

Thank you, Dawn. I wish you lived close enough to drop in--with Katie, of course!

Kathy said...

You have 1,000 posts? Congratulations indeed, Pamela! (Very nice speech; very nice indeed.) You are an elder blogger now. Anyone above 500 posts qualifies. **happy grin**

P. J. Grath said...

If only I'd given the speech on the spot, so my guests and helpers could have been acknowledged! But what can anyone expect of an elder bookseller/blogger? Only yesterday, it seems, I was a "kid" starting out. How the years have flown! You are an inspiration, Kathy, to other bloggers to keep going.

Dawn said...

Well, now that you're 28 years old, you should have a party again!

P. J. Grath said...

Or wait a couple years and have a bash for 30!