Another Bookstore Lesson

I dropped in on Book City’s Danforth Avenue store, fresh from buying a Big Carrot tofurkey for the vegetarian troublemakers around our Christmas table.

The elder statesman of the Toronto chain, the eminent Frans Donker, happened to be in the store, and greeted me warmly. He urged me to sign the two copies of my book, then went looking for a third copy out on the shelves. He returned, shaking his head over that copy. The flap had been carefully folded over to mark a place two-thirds of the way through the book. Some anonymous browser had apparently been working his or her way through the book, and was nearing the end — without any messy expenditure of dollars.

I’m torn between pleasure that this discriminating reader would sacrifice a part of lunch-hour each day to drink in my stories — and outrage that the book is being devoured for free. I’d love to meet the culprit. We could have an interesting conversation.

As for the life of a bookseller, who could have predicted this?

— Douglas Gibson


New frontiers not far from home . . .

Though this Dispatches section will have tales of the Adventures of Douglas Gibson all across our fine country, for a new author, there are adventures to be had at home as well as abroad. Our intrepid author headed to his local Book City, and after locating his book (defying the Murphy’s Law that governs such things), Doug signed a few, and afterward took the time to write a note to the manager about his new experience:


Although you don’t know it, you have just played a major role in the transformation of your friend Doug Gibson, editor and publisher, into Doug Gibson, typical author.

This morning my wife and I went into your Danforth store. We found 5 copies of my book and I carried one to Hanna at the front desk (in case I needed proof, I suppose, if challenged) and shyly confessed that I was . . . ahem . . . the author of this book, and . . . er . . . um . . . would she like me to sign the copies in the store?

She responded very kindly, and stood by with “Autographed” stickers, while I adorned the books with a signature that she generously described as “cool.”

Then, after buying another, different book, Jane and I exited. It was my very first in-store signing, and a frontier has definitely been crossed.

— Douglas Gibson