Most bookstores tuck authors away in dismal backrooms or cluttered offices before they read in an effort to:
A) protect the author from getting mobbed too early, or
B) protect the author from the fact that no one has shown up for the reading.
Among the stacks of galleys and paper cups full of day-old coffee, we sign the preorders and lose heart for what is to come.
But everything is different at Powell's. At Powell's they take you to the glassed-in Rare Book Room, a locked room filled with the most desirable treasures in the store — signed first editions and out-of-print wonders. It is a marvel of bibliomania, and it's also smart business. I can't speak for other authors, but I become a serious spendthrift on my book tours. I am lonely and exhausted. Items that I would never dream of buying at home become things I deserve when on tour, which is how I happened to buy a first edition of Dare Wright's dark and depressing masterpiece, The Lonely Doll. I saw it there on a low shelf after I had finished signing stock, before I had to go on and read — my favorite childhood book! And a bargain at $200. I snapped it up.
Now that I am safely home, I regard this beautiful book as proof of the temporary insanity I suffer on the road, as well as the general book-fever that can overtake a person at Powell's. Those folks know what they're doing.