Last January I made a bitter-sweet trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Our third-born child, second-born son was commencing a ministry as a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Sister Bay. I wrote this piece while I was there:
This afternoon we visited a nice used book shop in Fish Creek. (Fish Creek is the village on the north slope of the Door Peninsula between Egg Harbor and Sister Bay, Wisconsin). The proprietor is a young man who runs a very tidy, well-ordered shop and plays quiet, pleasant, classical music. I purchased a stack of books there in September, on our anniversary trip. While I was there I noticed that the religion section was extremely small and what was there reflected a distinct anti-orthodox bias.
We had a hearty breakfast at a Swedish Restaurant, visited the church, and then stopped in to browse the stacks at the bookstore to see what was new. Strolling around today with the boys, I wondered how I could be a testimony to the owner. Then I had an idea. He owns a bookstore. I will give him a copy of my new book.
I said, “Are you a reader?”
“Absolutely,” he answered.
Daniel went to the car and got a copy of my book. I said, “I have written a book and I would like you to have a copy. I will give it to you if you promise to read it.” He said, “Oh, I can’t make any promises. I have a tall stack of books that I have not read yet.”
He said, “I don’t read much fiction anyway.”
I was taken aback a bit so I didn’t tell him that my book was not fiction, and that it was pretty good reading if you ask me – For the sake of our testimony I tried not to be offended with him. The boys overheard the conversation and I could tell they were having less-than-charitable thoughts. I bought a few books and introduced him to Chuk, who would be starting his pastoral ministry in the next village up the coast.
As I drove away I thought how wonderful it would be to become a very well-know, sought-after writer and for him to realize one day that I was in his store personally and offered him a copy of my first book as a gift and he turned it down without so much as taking it in his hand and looking at it.
I really don’t have grandiose personal ambitions about writing very often. I just love the idea that folk here and there will take up something I have read and enjoy it. I love to hear stories about how people have enjoyed my stories. I like to hear that one of the stories made them cry or encouraged them to spend a day with their children or take their wife on a date.
But today was an exception. For just a minute I allowed myself the sinful luxury of an ambitious fantasy. I allowed myself to think how fun it would be for him to have to buy a bunch of my books to resell to customers who continually requested copies of my book. I like the idea of him actually paying some of his hard-earned cash for a copy and looking at the picture and realizing what a foolish mistake he had made.
Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that I have such thoughts, but I do and so I did. Honestly, I really did kind of feel bad for him because I’m sure he would have liked by book. It’s a good book and I know it, even if I can’t give it away.
I think I’m going to send him an e-mail when I get home and attach this little piece and tell him I will give him one more chance when I return, but only one and then I will take all my significant book-buying business elsewhere, and I will issue a command to all my heirs to follow suit.
He will live to regret what he did.