This Whole Thing Stinks

Here, I’m holding my last book shortly before sonebody bought it on Dec. 2

I’ve never liked the word “bittersweet.” But in this case, the word fits like no other.

Saturday afternoon I sold my last copy of The Colorful Characters of St. Louis at the Tower Grove Farmers Market Artisan Holiday Market. I laughed as I signed the book for the buyer, Anne Horton, with a notation that she now owned my last book. We laughed again as she took a selfie with me and the valued collector’s item. But after she left, I considered this new reality for Reedy Press authors after the recent warehouse fire.

I canceled a signing on Sunday and will cancel two more between now and Christmas. I’ve turned down two other invitations to Christmastime signings. I won’t have to cancel invitations to two programs at the start of the year, nor to one this week, because I don’t have to bring books.  I’ve always used those holiday sales to pay off end-of-year bills. But without books, I’ll end the year several hundred dollars poorer, Plus, I won’t get royalty payments for December a few months from now, because Reedy won’t have any of my books to sell. I’m not sure when I’ll get reprints. There’s a chance some bookstores will send back copies of my books they couldn’t sell, which I could buy. But just a chance.

Most likely, this will be the first time since the fall of 2010 that I haven’t sold books, particularly during the Christmas season. The fire put this tiny shopkeeper and dozens of others out of business, at least for now.

I believe in the power of prayer and have confidence God will work this situation out for the good. It doesn’t take faith  to believe that a revived Reedy Press will benefit both Reedy authors and the reading public. I’m looking forward to attending the Reedy Press Reboot Dec. 11 at Blueberry Hill. It’s sure to new the soul of an author like me. You mean you haven’t bought tickets? Dad bum it, click these blue letters, and buy ’em before they’re gone.

Besides, without the bother of sitting for hours at signings, I can finish doing interviews for my next Reedy Press book, Growing Up St. Louis.

It’s all true, as is the fact that lots of victims of more serious disasters have it much worse. I’m sure the people at Reedy Press are among those who have it worse than I do. But it doesn’t change the fact that the whole situation is pretty depressing. It goes against my nature, which says we always should look at the sunny side of life. But it’s the truth.

In this selfie, I hold my last copy of The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, right after Anne Horton (left) bought it from me.





Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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