Tuesday, April 24, 2012

World Book Night - Part 2

I LOVE the idea of World Book Night, and I was thrilled to be a part of it!!

I did it! ...however, I'm not sure I completely thought it through.

First, let me say that I had a bit of a set-back with my first few ideas for locations - my fantasy of going to a middle school, a park or a high school baseball game did not happen.  On a rainy day, I thought a Panera cafe would be a good spot. 

I had a bit of a panic attack at the idea of approaching strangers to offer them free copies of THE BOOK THIEF. 

So, as I tried to calm myself down, I picked up my phone and turned to Twitter:

Not sure I thought this thru. Anxiety over talking to strangers setting in. Should pretend I'm *deep breaths*

I chose to turn to my inner Bermuda Onion because Kathy is warm, sweet, and has a quiet confidence that draw people to her.  When I imagined who would probably have the easiest time handing out books - Kathy was the first person who came to mind! (It's the accent...need to fake the Southern accent.)

I quickly got lots of encouragement from my Twitter friends:  @BermudaOnion, @TrishHeyLady @erinfaye and @SabrinaCallahan who made me laugh and gave me the boost I needed to make it in the door of the cafe.  Once I got in the door....

Let's just say that people in New Jersey do not trust that anyone is giving anything away for free.  Here are some of the reactions I got:
  • -  No.  I won't read it. I'm sure there's a catch. 
  • -  Are you one of those writers that publish their own books?
  • -  How much? ...no, really, How much?
  • -  We don't read books.

Going to the Book Expo or to an event at Clinton Book Shop, I don't feel any anxiety in talking to new people, because we already have one passion in common - books! This was very different. I was approaching people who were 100% comfortable eating lunch by themselves without having a book in front of them! I have actually gone without lunch, rather than face a book-less meal by myself.

I was almost ready to pack up my books and bring them somewhere else.  Luckily for me, Mike, the manager of the Panera Bakery in Flemington, New Jersey, took pity on me and became my cheerleader.  He saw that I was getting all flushed and flustered and told me to try another approach. (God bless you, Mike!).  It was like I hit the reset button.  I was there to give out books, not enemas! 

I spotted a table with a mom having lunch with her 3 year old daughter. (You can't turn down a book in front of your preschooler!  What message would that send??)  Then came a table with two women who had heard about THE BOOK THIEF from their high schooler, and that sparked up curiosity from a woman sitting at the next table over. (Word of mouth!  Happening before my very eyes!) Before I knew it, I had three books left! 

In the back of the cafe, I came across one avid reader who had already read THE BOOK THIEF, heard about WORLD BOOK NIGHT, and thanked me for volunteering.  Thank you, kind stranger! I should have started at the back!! 

Let's just say that people in New Jersey are even more surprised and delighted when they learn that they are, in fact, receiving something for free, and that something is a book!  Some of the nicest things I heard:
  • -  I never get anything for free!  I feel like I won the lottery!
  • -  My daughter is going to love this!
  • -  For me?  But it's not even my birthday! 
  • -  No strings attached?  Really?  That's super!
  • -  I was hoping you were going to come over to me.
  • -  This is really cool what you're doing, thank you!
I gave out my books, and I felt really good.  What could have been a huge disappointment, turned into a success on so many levels.  There are only two things that I would change for next year: I would like to team up with another book giver AND I might like to hand out more books - 20 was just a warm-up! 

After getting back into the car, I updated my Twitter friends about my success in the cafe, when I got this Tweet from @WBNAmerica:

All these stories, just goes to show book givers are the bravest of them all :) We salute you brave givers!

Aw, shucks. 

Thank you, to the World Book Night America team for allowing me to be a part of such a special event.  A million books were handed out yesterday.  A million new readers.  That's because of YOU and all your hard work.  BRAVO!!

I wish I could have attended the closing ceremonies in Union Square and shared my experiences with other givers, and heard their stories in return.  Maybe next year!

Many, many thanks to the generosity of all the publishers who made this night happen, especially Random House, who published special copies of THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak.

**If you have received a World Book Night book, let me know!  Comment here, contact me on Twitter or write on my Facebook wall! 


bermudaonion said...

I knew you could do it!!! Aw, you made my day, no make that my month. I really do appreciate your kind words. I'll help you work on your accent in June.

I'll be posting about my experience later this week but I met up with some skepticism too. Since I was giving away The Poisonwood Bible, I think a lot of people thought I was trying to push a religious tract on them.

Zibilee said...

I had a few odd reactions too, but most of the people I encountered seemed really pleased, and thanked me. I kept my pitches short because I am not a big lover of walking up to strangers and starting conversations, but it turned out well for the most part. I also wish I had a second box of books to give out!

picky said...

Yea! It WAS anxiety-inducing, but I brought along my mom and sis, which made it much easier. :)

Glad that in the end, you enjoyed it.

Debbie T said...

Well done!!! I'm proud of you and your accomplishment. And I'm sure the new book owners are happy too!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh, my goodness, I love this post! You are so right, channelling our inner Bermuda Onion is the way to go. That Kathy just knows how to do it!

It's amazing how people would be so negative on receiving a free book, almost scary? I wish I had participated in this event!! Kudos to you and getting the books out there!!

Alyce said...

I definitely think it takes courage! I talked to my husband and he seemed to be okay with helping me with it if I sign up next year. Good job!

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