I write novels for teenagers now—such books are colloquially called “Young Adult books” or just YA—and whenever I’ve had about two beers and find myself with other YA authors, I always start in on this soliloquy about how the contemporary young adult novel was not invented by J. D. Salinger or Judy Blume or Robert Cormier but by David Foster Wallace, whose ETA scenes more closely resemble what most YA writers are after.
Like, for one thing, the best contemporary young adult fiction moves effortlessly between high and low culture in that way that only teenagers and David Foster Wallace can. I mean, my favorite books when I was eighteen were IJ and The Babysitters’ Club #43: Claudia’s Sad Goodbye. DFW proved that one way to bring readers to complex ideas is to utilize the sentence structures they hear every day; YA fiction has been trying to do this ever since.
Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.
I am the owner of Paper Town Books. Yup, I am. My intent was to open up a brick and mortar shop in Austin, TX (still is eventually - read further and I’ll explain). I even announced this on Word Painting some time ago (back in May of 2012). Since then I’ve discovered a lot of things:
First, small businesses are not catered to in this country. In fact, it is extremely difficult to get a small brick and mortar business opened in the U.S. (there is a lot of red tape and a lot of money involved).
Second, in the state of Texas (where I reside), in order for a business to get a bank loan, that business has to have had its doors open for two years and made a profit before a bank will even consider giving it a loan. This usually means anyone who wants to open a business must use their own money, their own credit cards or loans that they are able to get personally. This is not easy for everyone.
My conclusion? Start online then move to brick and mortar. So, for the last two years, this is exactly what I did, I built a website, collected tens of thousands of books, and generated a small amount of preliminary interest. The end result is about to be launched—Paper Town Books.
Here is what I intend to do with Paper Town Books.
1. Provide good quality/condition second hand books, collectible editions (like first editions, signed copies, etc.), some rare/antiquarian books, and your everyday run of the mill books (fiction and non-fiction) and other items such as graphic novels, etc.
2. Offer these books at a very reasonable price to help us poor book readers/collectors actually save money. Most of the common titles will be priced at 50% off the cover price or lower.
3. Move to a brick and mortar location within two years of the launch of the website. I prefer local brick and mortar stores, especially bookstores. That is my goal—get a physical location (and keep the website).
So, if you are a book reader, collector and/or lover of books your support of this venture is truly coveted. By supporting Paper Town Books you will be supporting a local bookstore (even though our location is currently online).
I do value your opinions and comments So, what you think?
Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.
You’re alive…That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name.
I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.
In Tereza’s eyes, books were the emblems of a secret brotherhood. For she had but a single weapon against the world of crudity surrounding her: the novels. She had read any number of them, from Fielding to Thomas Mann. They not only offered the possibility of an imaginary escape from a life she found unsatisfying; they also had a meaning for her as physical objects: she loved to walk down the street with a book under her arm. It had the same significance for her as an elegant cane from the dandy a century ago. It differentiated her from others.