All of us at most bookstores do more than our regular jobs. I am the newest member of the board of the Pride Center of Vermont and our annual celebration is on May 8th. I have been working hard to gather auction prizes. This year the auction is decidedly bookish and totally fun for bibliophiles.
I reached out to Chris Bohjalian (one of the truly lovely things about Vermont are the great writers we have here and how easy it is to get to know them) to see if he would donate a visit to a book group as a prize. He responded with an enthusiastic yes, but offered up a different idea. “How would you like to auction off: Be a character in a bestselling novel?” I thought that was a fabulous idea and so did the rest of the board. This item is going to be the grande finale of the live auction. Can you imagine having a character named after you in any book? Let alone a book that, if Chris’s track record holds, will not only be on the best seller list for months, but will never go out of print? What a great tribute to a loved one or something fun to do for yourself.
But the book donations don’t stop with Chris. Kim Fountain, executive director of the Center, had a good idea for a Vermont Bookstore Tour as a package. There are so many wonderful independent bookstores in Vermont that this seemed like a great idea. Of course the Flying Pig donated a gift certificate, and then I reached out to my friends. I had a storytelling gig at Bridgeside Books in Waterbury, and Hiata happily donated a gift certificate. Then I got smart and posted my query on the NECBA listserv and Village Square Books way down in Bellows Falls donated. Northshire responded immediately by mailing a sizable gift certificate the very next day!
I hadn’t heard from some stores and didn’t really think anything of it other than they were busy or had maxed out on their charitable giving for the month of May. Geographically, to complete the loop we had already, I really needed a store in Rutland or Middlebury. Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury was my choice, but I hadn’t heard from them. So I ordered a gift card online and paid for it myself (I’m learning that board members do this) designating the “from” part to be the bookstore itself. When Becky Dayton, the owner of the store, saw that she called me immediately. I explained what I was doing and she said,”Of course we’ll donate a gift card.” She refunded my $50 and mailed the donated card to the Pride Center that very day.
I have been heartened by the response from Norwich Bookshop as well. Liza Bernard emailed yesterday and asked if it was too late. I replied back a very happy, No!. And she’s mailing her gift card tomorrow. Everyone has been so wonderful about this package. Supporting the largest LGBTQ organization in Vermont while supporting independent bookstores just seems like a win-win for all involved. And, add to this the number of inns and cafes who have also donated along the indie tour route, this package is just amazing.
I’ll be wearing my auctioneer’s hat at the benefit and will be smiling the whole time as I try very hard to create a bidding war for these two book-related lots.