Having your book on a bookstore shelf

Last Year

About a year ago I ran across some advice for ‘wanna-be’ writers. One of the suggestions in this self-help book was: “Visit a local bookstore. Go to the section of the store where your book might be shelved. Envision your book on their shelf. ”

So on our next trip to Barnes and Noble, Gail & I independently walked around the store, both carrying this suggestion in the back of our mind, as we looked for a few books on our separate shopping lists.

When we got back to the car and started home, we checked in with each other. I indicated I had found the book I wanted plus another that was on sale. I went on to admit that I could not complete the visioning exercise in the self-help book because I did not find any shelf in the store where a book I might write would be located. Ironically she had a similar experience.

A few weeks later, while visiting a local independent bookstore, the Tattered Cover, I did notice a section in their store labeled “Sustainability” and one labeled “Local Authors.” Those would work. But I still couldn’t really envision ‘my not-yet-written book’ appearing in either section. Nevertheless, the store walk-through was a valuable exercise. I learned that selling books wasn’t my primary interest. Yet I still felt a passion for documenting my experiences for further discussion with others.

This Year

The Universe works in strange ways. This year I self-published my first book that documents how we transitioned our home from fossil fuel to solar power.

The local independent bookstore, Tattered Cover, agreed to stock the book (on consignment) in their three stores in the Denver Metro Area.

Our home is near the Highlands Ranch store so I couldn’t resist stopping by to see if the book was actually on their shelf. Sure enough, as you walk in the front door, to the left, there is a section labeled “Rocky Mountain Authors”




And there it was, on the very bottom shelf.

As I wandered through the store, I located their “Sustainability” section of books. On the fourth shelf from the top were two more copies of “Living without Fire.”

So how cool is that?

I didn’t have a stop watch, but I suspect the euphoria lasted just under 15 seconds. Then reality set in. You see many years ago I learned not to wish because I discovered that I am not smart enough to define what I really want. When I wish for something, it would often come true (like this book thing), but only to the limited degree that I had envisioned. I did carry out the exercise suggested in the self-help book designed to assist new authors. However, had I been a bit smarter, I really should have envisioned an empty space on a book shelf in a bookstore where my book used to be before it was transferred to a reader. You see, I really didn’t want to have a book sitting on a shelf of a book store. What good is that? It would be much better for the book to be in the hands of someone who was seeking information so it could serve as another example of how to divest from fossil fuel.

I really wanted the book to assist other people in making the transition to renewable/inexhaustible energy – to be able to see how easy it is to take the first steps to get off our addiction to fossil fuel.

Humbled again, I was reminded of our overarching issue of today so well articulated by Father Thomas Berry:

“The Great Work now, as we move into a new millenium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner”   …Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way to the Future

Simply “having a book on a bookstore shelf ” is not contributing to this Great Work.  The transition of human behavior from one of devastation to one of mutual benefit to all Life on our planet is today our most urgent challenge.

So I repeat to myself, “Be careful what you wish for.”

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