1955 Children's Book Week poster by Garth Williams
A few years ago I read a book about the history of Children's Book Week which featured posters designed by beloved children's book illustrators since their inception in 1919, and the Reading Frenzy Print Series was born. I asked a couple handfuls of my favorite illustrators and cartoonists if they would be interested in participating and they all said yes! Since that time we've produced two prints -- Reading Frenzy! by Carson Ellis and No Book Ever Ends by Aaron Renier -- we have one ready to go -- Steady by Nikki McClure -- and one in the works by Kate Bingaman-Burt.
Last night I watched Matilda for the umpteenth time, a film based on the book by Raold Dahl, to this day I still tear up when this line is spoken (lifted straight from the original text): "These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: you are not alone." Books provided me with that same comfort when I was an only child growing up in a small rural town. They beckoned me to join them on a myriad of grand adventures. I couldn't wait! While I ended up staying closer to home than I ever imagined -- it's a mere 50 minute drive from my house in Portland to Gales Creek, Oregon -- I embarked on a different kind of adventure 17 years ago: bookselling.
According to many I couldn't have picked a worse time to open a small bookshop, and I was downright crazy to think I could make a go of it by devoting the shop to independent, small press and self-published titles. The internet was coming! Big box bookstores were proliferating at a never before seen rate, and Amazon was right around the corner! Besides, books were "going the way of the dinosaur" as one skeptical customer put it, print was going to become obsolete, not just in our lifetime but within a few short years.
Well, I'm not going to claim it's been easy or that I haven't made decisions and sacrifices that most fiscally sane people would not, but we're still here, Borders just filed bankruptcy, and Amazon has not cornered the market on zines or small press. There's still a place in the world for a tiny bookshop devoted to the obscure and esoteric, the personal and handmade, the small and the marvelous.
Yes, the way people access and enjoy reading material has radically changed, and yes it has impacted us, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, but there will always be a segment of the reading public for whom there is no apt replacement for the pleasure of reading words printed on paper. This series celebrates those readers and the act of reading itself and it helps support our adventure through some currently rough waters. Thank you for your support: it's so good to know we are not alone.
Your Faithful Proprietress,