Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Between The Lines
0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: Indie Books and Writers


Independent booksellers and local writers: it’s a literary marriage made in book heaven. The owner of the new Battle Creek Books, Jim Donahue, and “tween” author Sandy Carlson from Battle Creek are in full agreement.

Donahue opened the doors of his bookstore in April. After more than 30 years as a physician specializing in geriatrics at the VA Hospital in Battle Creek, the Brooklyn, New York, native decided it was time for a career change. Donahue says he believes his store can join the national resurgence of independent bookstores. And he says that includes a beneficial collaboration with local authors like Sandy Carlson.

A conversation with Jim Donahue and Sandy Carlson

Carlson is a retired elementary school teacher who writes historical fiction and fantasy for kids aged 8 to 14. She now tutors dyslexic children and speaks at schools to encourage reading and an enjoyment of the art of storytelling. Her books include The Town That Disappeared; War Unicorn; Logging Winter; Tales of the Lost Schooner; Stacks of Flapjacks; Wildfire; and Star Opening.

“I must have called Jim three or four times before he even opened the bookstore,” Carlson laughs. She says local authors are always eager to establish a good business relationship with local booksellers. Having an “indie” in town gives authors a venue for book sales and author events. Those events give bookstore owners increased traffic.

Credit Zinta Aistars
Sandy Carlson and Jim Donahue

The two see reading trends from sometimes similar, and sometimes opposing viewpoints. Carlson says, as an author, it doesn’t matter to her if buyers read her books electronically or on paper. “As long as they are reading my books. I want to give them all the options.”

Donahue says he prefers "old fashioned" printed books to the electronic variety. He reminds readers that when purchasing an e-book, “You’re not really buying a book; you are buying the license to read the book. You can’t share with a friend or family member, either.”

As for reading trends, both author and bookseller see positive changes. Carlson speaks of a positive peer pressure among children and youth.

“With kids in school, they’re always reading on their own,” she says. “And peer pressure, especially with kids who have more difficulty reading…they will choose harder books just because their classmates are reading them, and they will carry them around. They do struggle through it but they read the book. Reading, especially for kids, will be around forever.”

Donahue says adults are reading too, and they are reading books with heft. “They’re going out the door with books like (Ray Bradbury's) Fahrenheit 451, collections of the works of Edgar Allen Poe, that sort of thing.”

Battle Creek Books has an area set aside at the front of the store for local authors and books about local subjects, Carlson’s books among them.

Listen to Between the Lines on WMUK every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

Related Content