O beloved St. John who once wrote, “In the beginning was the Word.” I beseech thee, hear my prayer and dispel the dark clouds which do surround me.
Forgive the publishers for they know not what they do. Make manifest my vital importance to their business. Encourage them to trim their lists, increase their retail discounts, and extend their payment terms. Grant them the wisdom to retain sales reps, hire friendly and knowledgeable credit reps, and simplify the co-op claims process. Continually prod them into publishing books of lasting value and help them navigate their own troubled waters -- if their ship sinks, so does mine.
Smite my enemies. The big box retailers who siphon off customers and return little to the community. The on-line retailer who seduces customers with low prices on books to sell them lots of other junk. The shoplifter whose heart is blind to my plight. The closed mind who cannot tolerate free speech. The state when it interferes needlessly in my business. The Free Market Boys who put profit above people.
Soften the hearts of my landlord, my banker, my insurance agent, the power company, and the tax collector. Hold them at bay during slack periods and grant them the patience to cease harrying me. Urge them to walk in my shoes for a mile that they might come to understand the cyclical nature of my business. Let my bank make loans again.
Open the eyes of my fellow citizens that they may come to understand the difference between a virtual community and a real one. Show them that enlightenment, amazement, and delight can be found in reading, and turn them away from the cheap blandishments of our culture’s corporate sponsors. Strengthen their minds that they might reduce the hours spent watching television, playing video games, twittering, tweeting, e-mailing, texting, and downloading. Let them cast aside their earbuds for a day. Urge them to seek the Real in the land of the Fake and open their hearts to all small businesses trying to survive.
I give thanks for my loyal customers for they are True Neighbors. I give thanks for my staff, their work ethic, their intelligence, their joyful spirits, their ability to face adversity with a glad heart. Where would I be without them? I give thanks for the wonderful books that are published each season, and the bounteous backlist from which I can build a selection which honors my customers, my community, and my country. I give thanks for all the sales reps, customer service reps, cleaning and maintenance people, truckers and delivery people, who serve so well in all kinds of weather, under all conditions. I give thanks for the wholesaler who has the hot book in stock when the publisher is out. I give thanks for all those in the media who cover books and encourage reading. I give thanks for the noble profession of book-selling and the years of joy it has brought me and I give thanks for the good things in life it has afforded me.
Grant me peace in a tumultuous time. Grant me the wisdom to separate real trends from specious fads. Grant me sustainability in a wasteful world. Keep me honest and cheerful, and, when the time comes, help me find a successor.
O beloved St. John, you who watch over those who write, publish, and sell books, please allow me to continue to make a living at it. Let me stay open for another year. Amen.