Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lapeer Days, an Overview

This past weekend, I joined my publisher and fellow COM Publishing writers at “Lapeer Days,” a rather large festival located smack dab in the middle of Lapeer, Michigan featuring vendors, a carnival, and way more country music than I’m comfortable enduring.

One of our number, a soon-to-be published writer of erotic fantasy, felt this would be a wonderful venue for us as a Michigan-based company hawking its wares and looking to increase readership. And how could sharing a venue with “Wowie the Clown” and “Wyatt the Magic Wonder” fail? I'll bet you're thinking it did.

Well, it didn’t. COM did okay, perhaps better than should have been expected. That might sound elitist, but hear me out by…reading…what I…just read the next part!

Friday, the first day of the festival, the COM booth received some attention. I arrived in the evening and was immediately struck by the expressions of flat-out intimidation on the faces of passers-by. Not everyone, of course, but far more than I could count using all available digits. One would have thought we were selling secrets to our enemies.

Lapeer is a blue collar town with a Southern vibe that is so strikingly different from what I’m used to in Southeastern Michigan (i.e. the Detroit Area) I felt as if I’d traveled to a different state. Still, blue collar does not automatically mean non-readers, at least not where I come from. But I’m not so sure about Lapeer, especially after a visit from the guy who brought his little girl with him to check out what we were selling.

“I’m thirty-six years old and I’ve never read a book in my life,” he said while holding a copy of P.S. Ramsey’s Legerdemain. “And I’m all right!”

And that was when it hit me: This wasn’t simply a case of being amongst non-readers, oh no! Not reading was a source of pride, as evidenced by how many people commented on how they see the movies made from books but, as the thirty-six year old said, actually reading more than a few pages results in boredom and restlessness.

I know why this is because in the past I tutored someone with the same problem; it all boils down to the way reading is perceived by the person when they are young. Those who are raised by non-readers tend to view reading as something that is done for information-gathering or out of obligation. Pleasure is not in the equation. So, when the man who so pridefully announced his non-reading status started telling us how difficult it was for him and his wife to get one of their daughters to read, it made perfect sense to me.

Bob Meier’s Chicken Wing for the Beer Drinker’s Soul and P.S. Ramsey’s Legerdemain were the stand-outs for this festival. My book was deemed by one person as “too intellectual” for the crowd and Nora Cook Smith’s A Not So Perfect Christmas was most likely not timely enough for the average American attention span. Had the festival taken place in October, she might have been the biggest seller.

As my publisher Christine Mizikow will tell you, the real benefits of these events come from unexpected sources, and this one was no exception. The owner of a local bookstore was so impressed with our product, she arranged to have each COM author appear at her store for signings beginning in October. In addition, the Genesee County Literacy Foundation wants is to come out for readings and signings well.

Hopefully, the thirty-six year old will be there so he can realize how pitiful what he said sounded and learn to enjoy reading, too.

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