Friday, November 19, 2010

Mr. Book Look

My name to my customers is Larry Book Look.

Larry "Mr. Book Look" Craig
I've been Mr. Book Look for almost 27 years: Book Look sells children's picture books and Christian fiction at retail to public libraries in Iowa and Illinois.

This business was not planned nor envisioned by me so I'd guess you'd say it was God designed (at least, that's what I say). In January of 1984 a sweet lady named Wilma was looking for someone to expand her home bookstore outreach; I wasn't interested but you know how that goes; without knowing anything about me, she offered to let me take boxes of product from her store and go try to sell it and, if I did, she'd give me a commission.

After a couple months of doing everything unsuccessfully, I “divinely stumbled” into the library market...yeah yeah and the rest they say is history. I worked on commission for Wilma for about 3 years then for another book business for a couple years; finally realizing I was going further and further in the hole financially, I made the decision to borrow some money and buy my own stock.

From then to now I buy the books from publishers, Ingrams, B&T, or anywhere else I can, then load up my dodge extended van and travel to small town public libraries to try to sell Book Look books. I have a great sales pitch that I've used from the beginning -- “Hi, my name is Larry, would you like to buy some books?”

One librarian said I was the most pathetic salesman she had ever seen and, just to do me a favor, I could bring my books in and she'd look at them; I've been servicing that library for over 25 years now! Yes, I actually haul one or two boxes of books into the library and the librarian buys on the spot from the boxes. (If I'm out of something or there is a need for a special order, I send it to the library and I pay the shipping.) This form of selling comes under the heading of “dinosaur” since it's been almost extinct for many years.

When I started, there were only a handful of Christian books available and the average price was about 4.95; well you know about the market today. For years I heard the librarians say, “there is no call in our community for this kind of book”. When I'd tell folks what I did for a living they'd say, “you mean there's Christian books in the public libraries?” What seems natural today – going to the library to get the new Mary Connealy book – is a situation that took years to achieve.

Bottom line: I've been blessed! God started the business, sustained the business, guided the business, and to this day, I'm only in the business because He literally keeps me there. Over the years I've put nearly 300,000 miles on each of 5 extended vans. Used to be I could eat a meal on the road for $2.50 and a motel room would cost me $12.00 – 14.00. Not too long ago a small sale would pay for the weeks petrol bill; now that same sale pays for part of a tank of gas. I'm a “one horse” outfit with annual sales of $120,000. How does this business continue? To God be the glory! And that's not false modesty: every day I am blessed. It hasn't been easy but I have been blessed.
Leave a comment for Mr. Book Look. Everyone who leaves a comment will get their name in the drawing for a signed copy of Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.


  1. Hi Mr. Book:

    I’m very interested in your sales methods.
    I thought a library sale would have to go through a committee and take a long time to be approved.

    Do libraries just buy books on the spot?

    Do libraries buy multiple copies of the same book?

    Are your books unavailable to the libraries though traditional sellers? If they are available elsewhere, do you offer better prices?

    Do you try to sell large library systems or small town or county libraries with less bureaucracy?

    Are your books special library editions with strong bindings or are they normal bookstore books?

    I know these are a lot of questions but I just can’t imagine anyone doing what you are doing and it is all very interesting.



    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

    P.S. Coffee will come in the morning.

  2. Petrol? ;)

    I'm still mainlining DP if anyone else wants to share. I also have French Toast and syrup for whoever is interested in that. There's also powdered sugar and assorted berry like stuff to put on them.

    I've been able to suggest a number of books to our library system - AK Arenz's Mirrored Image is the latest and they've brought all of them into the system :) [Candace Calvert, Dr. Richard Mabry and a couple of others are the ones I rec'd].

    I'd love to have Mary's set though :).

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  3. Vince, the answers to your questions are "yes" and "no". Depends on the library and the system. Iowa and Illinois are uniqe compared to, say, Minn or Wisc. I deal directly with librarians who do the buying -- no committees -- and they buy on the spot. Since I deal with small town libraries usually no multiple copies. Yes my books are available elsewhere; no I don't offer better prices. (the obvious next question is "why do they buy from me?"; the answer to that is God has seen fit to bless me) Regular bindings.

  4. Excellent article! I love to read about people doing things by a method where most folks would advise them, "That'll never work." And yet God blesses! Mr. Book Look's a great example of perseverance and faith. reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  5. Mr Book Look!


    Congratulations on being faithful!!!

    I ran a business VERY similar to yours, in Houston. Though I didn't do books - but the business model was the same. Almost exactly.
    OMGosh... This is awesome!

    It's amazing what a smile, a willing attitude and customer service followup will do.

    I had some of the same customers for almost 10 years - they were so thrilled to have someone pay special attention and get them what they needed on time at a good price. AND, someone who cared.

    The name of my company was Grace Supply. Since my name isn't Grace, it really opened doors to talk about the Lord. Phil 4:19 was "my verse" and my logo had a cornucopia in it. :) Ah the days...

    Thank you again - many blessings upon you!

    Good questions Vince, thanks for prompt answers Mr. B.L.

    Question of my own - do you also rep self-published if they meet your criteria?

    I have Lassoed but wouldn't mind a copy for Christmas gift may at maythek9spy dot com

    (My time has been very limited so I've not been able to check back in to Seekerville during the day... need to catch up and read thru the past week's responses!)

    CarolM - sign me up for some of that DP - sounds GOOD this morning!

  6. Wow, what a great story! It's funny how things work out. God is working out a plan in our lives even when we think He isn't. I can say the same for myself at times. (Thanks for the giveaway too).

  7. Mr. Book Look, thanks for giving us a peek at something I didn't even realize existed as a career.

    I am in for Mary's book.

    I am adding scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and homemade country sausage to Carol's generous offer of french toast. Gotta have some protein. Pass the lipitor!

    Peace, Julie

  8. Another interesting spin on books!

    God works through each of us in various venues!

    May His name be praised!

    Blessings, everyone:)
    Chakasa58 at gmail dot com

  9. Welcome to Seekerville Mr. Book Look,

    I'm sure the personal service and hands on feel of the book are a big part of the sale. Librarians are inundated with catelogs and it just makes sense to pick the books you have actually held in your hand and see how they look and feel.

    Bob Mayer used the same theory when he spoke at a conference. He had all of his books on the lunch tables for people to look at and touch and peek inside while he was talking to us. He made all of his sales after lunch. The books had been on the shelves for two days prior.

    Thanks so much for the successful marketing tips. You have been blessed with wisdom.

  10. Good Morning, Mr. Book Look,

    What an interesting occupation! One I never really knew existed. I figured publishers contacted libraries directly to see them their books. Maybe large publishers do?

    I'm glad that God continues to bless your business. It is a mission to spread his word!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  11. Welcome to Seekerville, Mr. Book Look! What a wonderful story of faithfulness and perserverance. I'm with Vince, I thought all libraries ran the same way. Never stopped to think they get sales pitches like any other business.

    I'm praying God's blessings on your continued success and safety as you reach out to the small communities across Illinois and Iowa!

    Thanks for sharing with us today!

  12. Good Morning Vince, Let me continue answering your questions. I operate a "one man show" type business that doesn't encompass all the aspects of selling books to libraries. soooo there are situations I don't encounter: e.g. the way they do things in large libraries. I know a children's book dealer who flies to his appointments! When he goes to St. Louis, he might sell thousands of dollars worth of books each time he goes; I'm not like that. When he sells one title, he also sells 20 more of the same title to the library branches; I don't ever see that situation. In larger libraries oftentimes there is a designated librarian who sits in an office and reads reviews and orders books from catalogues -- and that's her/his job! I know of one library in a community around Chicago where one of the library directors has to scour the world for books in 28 languages because that's what her community is made up of; I don't have that situation. soooo Could there be committees? maybe. Sorry if I didn't make it clear before. Keep asking till I give the right info:)

  13. You must be a pretty GOOD salesman, Larry! As an author, I am thankful for people like you. You promote our books and get Christian books in the hands of people who wouldn't otherwise get to read them, and I personally think that is awesome! Keep up the good work! God is using you to do his work!

  14. KC, Rarely have I had to deal with the selfpub situation but when I have, the books were generally too expensive with little profit margin and they don't look nearly as nice as those done by the pros. Generalization I know: just my personal experience. thanks

  15. Melanie, GOOD salesman?? Let me tell you a true story...Once upon a time (all good stories start 'once upon a time') I was in a library showing my wares - word used for CarolM -- when I noticed a man sitting at a table a short distance away. When I was finished and the librarian had gone back the desk, the man asked me "if I made a living at this". He then proceeded to tell me that I was the "worst salesman he'd ever see". wait wait it get's better... later I asked the librarian who the man was; she said he sold for another company. Six months later I asked the same librarian again about the man and she said he had been fired.......I'm still here! could I get a witness??PTL

  16. Hey Mary! I just read the original post and noticed that whoever leaves a comment gets a chance at a signed Lassoed. I'm commenting!!!!! (Course since I've read all the books maybe I could get a signed copy of the new "branching out" novel hmmmm?
    Just so's everybody knows, I'm a big Mary Connealy fan. If you haven't read all her westerns, now is the time to start. (she made me say that if I got to be the guest on Seekerville). really! what? you don't believe me???

  17. Mr. Book Look this is a story unto itself. I can see your tale on the Hallmark Channel, and I want to give it a Fred Factor Christmas twist.

    Oh my stars, you rock me with this simplicity and how wonderfully things move on when we THINK we're in control. HA HA HA!!!

    And I totally believe that Connealy coerced you into hawking her wares...

    She's relentless. And cute.

    And bossy.

    And well-read.

    Did I mention bossy? Oh, yes, I see I did.

    So, Mr. Book-Look, have you ever considered doing a book of little Book-Look stories, like James Herriot in his vet practice? Can't you just see it, America's heartland through the eyes of small-town librarians.

    If you don't do it, I just might. :)

  18. Mr. Book Look it is an honor to meet you. Our library has a Mr. Book Look as well, (though his name isn't nearly as interesting).

    Thanks for all you do to support libraries and reading.

  19. Ruth, you write it, just send me a coauthor check,ok?

  20. Good morning everyone,

    This is so interesting! I've been trying to figure out how our libraries get books. It's probably different up here in Canada, but I really should try to talk to someone. Because there are virtually no Christian books. A few Tracie Peterson books is about all I've been able to find. Sad, really.

    Actually the whole romance section is pitiful.

    Our local library was closed for a year and a half, gutted and restored to a new eco-friendly building. I was so excited when it finally re-opened, thinking they'd have all new books to go with the new building. So disappointing - they have even less books now than before. Probably because they got rid of all the older, damaged ones.

    We need a Mr. Look Book up here!

    Oh, and now the library is automated so there's virtually no staff. You check your own books in and out with a scanner machine. There's a couple of students shelving books, and maybe one adult on staff to help. And (no offense) they look like housewives who have no power in purchasing books! (Whew, that's my rant for the week!)

    I'd love to be in the draw.

    Have a great weekend.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  21. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraNovember 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    Welcome to Seekerville Mr. Book Look!
    Thank you for sharing with us. I love the sound of your business and think that it great. You are truly blessing people with your work. Thank you again!

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

  22. Larry! What an amazing job you have! I've always wondered how books made it into the library. I didn't know if it was donars or purchases. What a great ministry to get Christian books into the library system! Thanks for what you do - you and all the others out there doing the same thing.

    Having said that, how do you get your book supply? I'm assuming you have to get them at a discount in order to make money. So, are you like a christian bookstore in a van and you order from dealers like a christian bookstore owner would?

    For the drawing: lr. mullin at live .com

    Breakfast? So far I've had nothing. Ya'll are making me hungry! Think I'll go make a bagel and cup of tea...


  23. Vince, when do you sleep?

    Great questions, btw.


  24. Thanks for sharing your story. :)

  25. Ruth, go for it! That would be a fun series. Actually, one of my first WW stories was about a small town librarian, but by the time I finished editing it you don't even know her occupation. It's a cute story, though. Patricia really liked it. Let's hope the other editors feel the same way.

    Larry, do you have advice for us writers on how to make sure our books get sold to libraries?


  26. Sandra, good point on the "feel" the books issue. Last year I chuckled when reading an article that came out in a book business magazine that said sales would be better if the customers could see and handle the book. duh! I've been selling that way since 1984 and didn't know it was a hot new way of doing things: there's nothing new under the sun saith the preacher. btb Sandra's comment should inspire a lot of heretofore unasked questions.

  27. I work in a central library for a school board and we have a Mr. Book Look too...well, she's a Ms. I don't know where she gets her books or how she decides what to carry but whenever she comes there are always some gems in her magic boxes that we have never seen before. What a fantastic job you have, Mr. Book Look -- especially since you are spreading the good word about Christian fiction.

  28. Hi Larry. When you first emailed me about my books I thought you were doing a job I'd never heard of before. It was so interesting.

    I thought our readers here at Seekerville would be just as interested.

    Thanks so much for coming in and answering questions.

    And sure, your name can go in the drawing, too.

  29. Well, it just goes to show that if God wants you to succeed, nothing can stop you, even your own shortcomings. I certainly know that to be true. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.

    After college there was a job I wanted. I NEEDED this job. If I didn't get it I was facing some dire circumstances. I went to the interview and totally was awful. I said all the wrong things, and I was sure my potential boss was decided unimpressed with me. But I just said, Well, even though I did terrible, God can and will still get me this job if he wants me to have it. And sure enough, they hired me, because they were desperate and nobody else applied!

    And everybody here has heard my publication story. Nobody wanted my book. It was the wrong genre in every way--medieval, YA romance, too different from anything in the Christian market. But what do you know? After 3 years of rejections, it got published by Zondervan, who has been incredibly good about marketing it. Praise the Lord! It was all God.

  30. And I'm a huge fan of Mary Connealy too!!!

  31. Ruthy, I promise to begin immediately co-ercing Mr. Book Look to hawk your wares, too.

    I have it on the coercion schedule for Monday morning.

    As if you're not fully capable of your own coercion...I do NOT underestimate you.

  32. Oh, and Larry, Tina is a former librarian. You were in a big library system, though weren't you Tina?

    She probably knows more about what you do than any of us.

  33. Susan Ann, why don't you do it? You see a niche, go fill it.

    That's how MICROSOFT started, girl.

    Go for it.

  34. ok, back to business...
    Linnette (and others I'm sure), I buy the books at wholesale and sell at retail; almost all other sales to libraries are at wholesale. Again I say this doesn't make sense but obviously God is in it. I buy from publishers, jobbers, distibutors, or whereever I can. Next I load the books into my van and drive to the smalltown libraries, carry into the library a box or two of the books. The librarian looks thru what I have, and, with my guidance, picks the ones she/he wants to purchase. I write up (yes, pen and paper -- no computer) an itemized invoice, then leave bill and books. I get back into my van and reload the display boxes from stock in van to be ready to go to the next library. Libraries don't have cash on hand so I give them 90 days to pay: the librarian passes the bill to the city, or board, or other powers to be and sometime in the next 3 months I get a check. Now, how do you authors get your books into my display boxes?? ahhh there's the question. That's your publisher's job: catalogues, fliers, inserts, etc. Promo of your books is an art -- good promo, good sales; not so good promo... Of course this changes when you have established your name. Susan mentioned Tracie Peterson. When she or Lori Copeland or Melody Carlson or Bev Lewis write a book, it doesn't matter what cover or content because name recognition sells the book. In my little business if I have read something good I push it (promo)and that helps sales. If your books aren't selling like you think they should be, try checking how they're being promoted. I know I've simplified the issue tremendously here but I see it every day. waters muddied at this point?? keep asking till I make it clear. thanks.

  35. Mr. Book Look,

    Very interesting post and way to go on trusting God. He's the best partner for any business.

    I never realized how small libraries got their books. I've always just been thankful the books have been there.

    Thanks for sharing your story!


  36. Wow, I know what you mean by being a salesman and only God makes the most pathetic salesperson prosper. Talk about writers feeling rejected, oh I felt so much worse as a salesperson, that job made me start toward depression. I feel sorry for all my telemarketers. But I am so glad he's blessing you and helping you do a wonderful job.

    rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

  37. Dear B.-L.,

    I will gladly co-author with you.


    This does require some work on your part. Like, feeding me fun stories. I can see the title page now:

    "Through the Library's Eyes: Visions of Americana by MR. BOOK LOOK and...

    (way down in tiny size 6 font:)

    Ruth Logan Herne

    I'm thinking NYT....

    Sweet. Poetry and prose, intermingled with a slap-dash of humor.

    We can do this. Unless, of course, Mary nips the idea. (refer to earlier post where NIP equates OUTRIGHT STEALING CONNEALY!!!)

  38. Mary's being nice to Larry.

    I think it's because they rhyme.

  39. Susan, I agree with Mary. Go for it. Maybe Larry can give you his email and you can ask questions on all the ins and outs.


  40. Larry, I have a devo book compilation my writer's network put together with Mark Littleton. I'd be glad to send you a free copy to see if it's something you'd like to buy/sell. It's called 101 Facets of Faith and they are unique 300 word devo/inspirational stories of how people have lived out their faith in given situations - chronic illness, death, unexpected things in the midst of daily life... I don't know how well devotional style books sell to libraries, but I though it worth asking. Let me know if you would be interested in seeing it, please.


  41. What a great story! I can see where it would be helpful for a librarian to see the books before purchasing when it's not a huge author that gets multiple copies ordered automatically.


  42. Ruth, you're such a dash of medicine! You just crack me up! BTW, I read Winter's End and Waiting Out the Storm. Loved them! Can't wait to read Made To Order Family!


    PS...Yes, it appears I have nothing going on today when in reality I'm totally behind on laundry and dishes, and keep putting off the writing of my proposal. guys are just too much fun to hang out with. :D

  43. Hi Mr. Book:

    I think you may be a modern day itinerant peddler with a car instead of a wagon. To make this work, I would think you’d need to be like an agent who culls the best work to show the particular publisher who would be most likely to buy it. ( That is, you do part of the publisher’s work for him.)

    So do you read the books you sell before you place them in your inventory?

    Do your regular customers ask you to pick the best books out for them and just let you place the order?

    I think Ruth has a good book idea based on your life but I’d rather have you be the model for a Don Quixote type hero who goes about selling Christian books to an unbelieving world. I’d have the person who called you a terrible salesperson be the heroine and I’d have the romance begin when you sell her the book: “How God Wants You to Win Friends and Influence People”. This would be a very interesting story full of surprises. And there wouldn’t be any other book out there like it. I think Mary could write this book in her spare time. : )

    You really are very interesting! Thanks for all your answers.


  44. Hi Linnette:


    Why would anyone sleep when they could be thinking? Sleep is just a good diversion for when you are too tired to think.


  45. Mr. Book Look, I am so glad Mary lassoed you into being our guest in Seekerville! What a fascinating success story! You are a blessing to the book world!

    And a really fun guest blogger, too!

    May God continue to bless and prosper your work!

  46. NIPS the idea? Poetry?

    Are you kidding me, Ruthy?

    How about
    Mr. Book Look's extended van goes over a cliff into wolf infested forest and have to fight for his life to have himself and his books. He finds life giving warmth to survive the bitter cold (did I mention it was winter and there was a blizzard?) by burning copies of Winter's End while carefully preserving the very rare copy of Petticoat Ranch.

    Story number two.

    Mr Book Look notices the librarian acting funny and realizes an armed gunman is hiding behind the check out desk.

    Story number three...there ain't no stinkin' poetry in MY Mr. Book Look Book.

    Mr Book Look Book

    Houston we have a title.

  47. Haha, Vince! I totally get what you're saying. Sometimes I have to make myself go to bed. I do have a husband and four sons to take care of, after all. :D

    The day I spent twelve hours on my manuscript and wrote about 10,000 words, I was on a roll and didn't want to quit. But, I'd been at it for twelve hours as I said and my eyes were blurring to the point of being unable to read very well. I made the mistake of going to bed and had writer's block the next few days! I was so ticked at myself!


  48. Linette! 10K DAY! WOOHOO! Way impressive, my friend. I'm hoping for one of those next week after a 200 word day yesteray. I may actually lose NANO this year :(. I'm at just over 13K with 11 days to go :p. That said, once i get this chapter done, I think the fingers will fly but I HATE writing out of order and this one has been like pulling teeth combined with a lack of time. In 2007, my 3.5 month old son spent nearly half the month in the hospital and had surgery and I managed win then :p. I cheated though - I uncontracted words, wrote an insanely long autobiographical author's note telling about my month. Looking back at that month, I was at 18050 on the 20th that year. Actually looking at my records, I wrote nearly 20K in the last two days and most of that on the last day...

    Anyway- wares! Thanks for the shout out ;). That's really interesting - what you do. Do you ever go to Carmi, IL? That's where my dad grew up many moons ago.

    I was going to say something else to someone else but cannot remember [and a scan of posts doesn't bring it back] what since I started looking at the stats from 3 years ago...

  49. Looks like a Ruthy,Vince and Mr. Book Look co-authoring, with a little spice and gunpowder from Mary.

    Way fun.

    Thanks for your answer. So - how would you make this determination on the books - such as the devotional mentioned by Linnette or possibly me if I go the self-pub route (and it WILL be professionally done or it isn't going to happen...:) -

    Would you read/peruse a copy, like Linnette suggested or ??

    Just asking - I'm still unclear what I'm going to do but, exploring my options. And would love to support a small biz owner if possible too! (But it'd have to be a win/win obviously.)

    Hope y'all are enjoying your Friday.

  50. do I read the books before I sell them?? some of them (well ok most all of Mary's). I'm thinking of that Canada situation: I run into that once in a while and there's not much can be done until someone in charge (librarian) has an interest in Christian fiction. Once the collection begins in a library it builds on itself -- the patrons begin to ask for books by type or author...sales beget sales. on another subject, someone asked about selling a devotional. I only sell fiction and even then am a little bit selective (that's a hint which should lead to a question). and about that book, Ruth...I could be one of the most boring guys you ever met and I've never considered a book about my life. Now the idea about a van crash etc etc I could go for.

  51. WHAT!?

    No poetry!

    No Way!

    We have poetry because we don’t have enough without it! (Archibald MacLeish)


    “He finds life giving warmth to survive the bitter cold (did I mention it was winter and there was a blizzard?) by burning copies of ,Winter's End..."

    This ‘burning thing’ has already been done in La Boehme. (Besides there’s too much irony in burning Winter’s End to get warm. It won’t get past the editor.)

    But come to think of it, "Mr. Book Look" might make the quintessential America opera!

    Any composers out there?


    P.S. I have one of the first "Petticoat Ranch" books ever printed.

  52. Mr. Book Look, it's so nice to meet you! I'm so glad you joined us today. I loved reading your story.

    And I look forward to the one you and Ruthy will do together! :)


  53. interlude: I gotta tell I'm having way too much fun today! When Mary begged me to write an article, I couldn't imagine anyone being interested, and now, well I'm hoping for a new record for number of comments (yeah there's a ways to go but who knows?). Speaking of curtains, Mary were you embarrassed to use the picture I sent? I really thought it looked like an author pic from the back cover of a bestseller.

  54. I steal (nip?) from La Boehme, like totally alla time, Vince baby.

    Cling to that copy of Petticoat Ranch, think of it as you're very own Honus Wagner Baseball Card.

  55. I never got any pictures, Larry.

    I'm sorry.

    If you send them again I could get the up yet today.

    I remember you said something about pictures but I never got them.


  56. Vince, re: poetry I learned this gem in about 1962 and it made a lasting impression on me.

    I know a girl name Gwendolyn

    Oh how her mother could mash potato

    She fell in love with a horse and buggy

    Come let us lean against the river.

    Kinda brings tears to my eyes even yet. I stole it so, yes, you may steal it and use it also. Original author unknown. Ahhh but I seem to have digressed...

  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

  58. Larry, if I wrote that poem, I'd for sure not put my name on it.

    Just sayin'............

  59. No picture, Larry, except I got an email from you and there's an invitation to be your friend on Facebook, which I accepted, except I'm not sure it's you. And you, if it's you, have to approve me. So if you meant for me to find pictures there to use here, it' ain't happenin'.

    Between Larry's computer skills and mine, we'll be lucky not to crash the whole internet before this day is done.

  60. That's Mary, wreaking havoc wherever she goes, and lookin' good doing it! :)

    Now Larry - we don't have your photo so... who knows if you look good as "a pathetic salesman" or not.

    And so, begging your question - the criteria you use is... ?

    or was that the question?

    I'm kinda brain dead - and it's late here in Stavanger.

  61. Hi Mr. Book:

    That poem is so 1960’s Zen.

    I’m sure if you read that poem back then on the Berkley campus, those English professors would have been quite impressed!

    BTW: Is your picture posted anywhere on the Internet? If so, it can be lifted from there. Just post the link. If it is not posted, email it to me and I’ll post it on my site so Mary can lift it and post it here. I’m sure everyone wants to see the picture at this point!

    Also: If you want to set a record for comments, I think Mary had a post with over 300 comments. It was sneaky (each comment was given a chance to win a Kindle – so people were writing one word per comment!!) but it’s still a record.


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  62. KC, criteria excellent question to be followed with reasonably poor answer. Since I can't read everything, I make judgment calls based on author, publisher, previous sales, popularity, AND personal opinion. If I know of no problems with an author, if the publisher is semi reliable, if the cover art is attractive, if the price is reasonable, etc., I pick the books I think I want to sell from catalogues. This often includes new authors. For instance, Bethany/Baker will send out the new winter-spring catalogue; I order known authors and new ones knowing the cover art will be almost 100% good. Some authors (i.e. Melody Carlson) are just a given to order. Quantity that I order depends on expected sales, of course, so that varies by criteria above. Now, on the negative side...There are authors and publishers with questionable doctrinal standards. Here I may read or skim a book before I sell it. If there's a problem, since it's my own business, I may choose to not sell something I find offensive or wrong Biblically. Another problem is not wrong content -- it's NO Biblical content. Personally, why go to the trouble of publishing and trying to sell Christian fiction that doesn't have anything Christian in it? Don't argue with me on this -- it's my business so I can have my opinion. Blood and terror and other mayhem may be in Christian fiction but if there's no Godly messaged attached what have we accomplished accept maybe making a buck. I don't sell these knowingly: sorry A. Gansky and S. James. There is a concerted effort on the part of some "Christian" publishers to produce fiction with no message as crossover books. I don't knowingly sell these with the exception of "gentle reads" which I inform my customers about. Again, I can't read everything so I'm sure stuff slips thru, but when I discover it, I stop selling it. There, that was half an answer to the criteria question. Keep asking till I make it clear.

  63. the picture issue... there may be pics out there but I only know of the ones on my facebook page. I was trying to send Mary one of the profile pics. She knows I'm not very computer literate and I can't seem to get one of those sent. Think Clint Eastwood or Roger Moore. No I don't say I look like them (now), I just wanted you to think about them.

  64. Vince, I'm with you on the whole sleeping thing.

    "Plenty of time for rest in the grave."

    Ben Franklin (I think of him as old-school Vince)

  65. And now I'm picturing an EARLY Clint Eastwood.

    Rowdy Yates.

    oh my stars.

  66. Ruthy, still wanting to do a book??

    Vince, think we could get more comments (like over 300) if we promise to give away an autographed copy of the not yet written booklookvancrashesoffacliff book??

  67. I guess I could put up a picture of Clint Eastwood. I think I'll go with the early Rowdy Yates of Rawhide fame Eastwood. As long as we're makin' stuff up, we might as well have you be a 25 year old Eastwood.a

  68. OH that's just WEIRD. I wrote my Rowdy Yates comment without reading Ruthy's.

    Despite my years of denial and tears, I may have to admit here pretty soon that me 'n ruthy are kinda alike.

  69. KC:


    Like in Norway?

    I always had you pictured as living in Tennessee near my sister. Is your little dog with you?

    My grandmother was born in Christiania long before it became Oslo. I hope you're warm. : )


  70. I think I 'friended' you correctly Larry.

    To be on teh safe side I'm now friends with EIGHTY Larry Craigs. I thought your name was Larry St. Elsie?

    I'm very confused.

    You didn't do a stint as a senator at any time, did you?

  71. Ruth:

    If you are making it up, why not use a 30 year old Derek Jeter?

    BTW: Ben Franklin is one of my heroes. He could never stop thinking! I put him in my book “Three of Our Vampires Are Missing”. He was in a tavern discussing philosophy with David Hume, and my vampire hero, in Paris. Both Hume and Franklin were in Paris at that time and both were considered to be fat, jolly, philosophers. What’s not to like?


  72. Mary we're "friends" so you can cancel all the other Larry's including the senator. Take a look at my profile pics and if you know how to hack and get one, go for it

  73. TA DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  74. sure sure Mary you would put my older brother's pic on Ruth won't want to help write our book:(

  75. So interesting that you put FOUR PICTURES OF YOUR OLDER BROTHER ON YOUR BLOG.

    and none of yourself, cuz this was the only guy I saw.


    I saw the picture of Clint Eastwood, too. Or wait....maybe that wasn't Clint, oops. that was you wasn't it?

  76. Love the pic, Larry, and the chatter. Too funny.

    I'm coming in late...and had lots of catching up.

    All of you write like...well, writers. Imagine that!

    Mr. Book Look, Love, I'm sweet talkin' you, like we do in the south. Have you considered coming to Georgia? We need you here!

    BTW, do you like grits?

  77. Mr. Book Look,

    What about Thorndike large-print hardcover books? Do you sell those?

    A number of us write for Steeple Hill and our stories often get picked up by Throndike or Center Point. I've been told libraries buy them. Do I have that right?

    Thanks for being with us today, Larry.

  78. Debby, fried chicken - yes, grits...not so much but thanks for the offer. welcome to the Post; any questions or comments. Ignore Mary, she's having a hard time getting the pic right.

  79. Mr Book Look has been with us for ONE DAY and he's already learned what the rest of you seem to know.

    Ignore Mary.

    How odd.

  80. Debby, excellent question. No, I don't sell Thorndike or Center Point or Hall large print -- they're too expensive at retail. But yes the libraries do buy them wholesale somewhere else. There is a good market for large print books but the publishers don't go there in paperback except Baker who does a handfull a year. It's an interesting situation: the libraries want them but the publishers say they won't sell so Thorndike etc have the market there as of now. Barbour has recently put out a set of "Hometown mysteries" which aren't large print but they are larger. I'm selling quite a few but whether it will be a lasting thing will depend upon whether they are well written...patrons may want large print but they won't read poorly written books for long. Other publishers may want to consider the "larger" print format. good question.

  81. Hi Mr. Book:

    Now that I see your picture I think some of your success may be in charming all those small town librarians.

    What about eBooks? In the past I had to read Mary’s books in the large print version from the Tulsa Library. (The Tulsa Library loves Mary’s books!) But now I get them for my Kindle and I can make the print larger than even the largest print book. I think the Kindle will kill large print books before the regular size print books. Do the libraries you sell to now offer eBooks? Tulsa does.

    What does you ‘on the ground’ crystal ball say about this?


  82. Thank you so much for your part in putting Christian fiction in libraries. We are fortunate where I live (in central Kansas)to find many Christian fiction books in our public libraries.
    I am a new fan of Mary Connealy so would be very excited to win the Lassoed in Texas Trilogy. Thanks for the opportunity.

  83. Vince, good question. Answer among my clientelle is ebooks etal are for the younger generation and my/our generation will be gone before it affects small town Christian fiction readers. Course, we could be wrong but the threat of electronic books has been with us for years and hasn't made much of a difference in my market yet. The libraries do have access to downloadable books but, again, it hasn't been a problem at all for me yet. sidenote: the buyers of Christian fiction in bookstores tends to be younger, while the readers in the libraries tend to be older; however, after 27 years I've quit warning the librarians to think about the patrons age. I used to think after all the older folks are gone, nobody would be left to read my books...but it's been decades now and the market is bigger than ever soooo
    Back to the foundation -- the Book Look is God's business and it will only last as long as He sees fit: ebooks or not. thanks for the good question.

  84. Pam, as a new reader of Mary's books, may I suggest you read them in this order: Petticoat, Calico, Gingham, Montana, Husband, Wildflower, Doctor, Wrangler. You don't have to but if you do, once you start you'll be at it nonstop till you're done. If the local library doesn't have them all, they can interlibrary loan them from Iowa or Illinois libraries!

  85. Hey Mary how am I doing at gaining you fame and fortune?

  86. Hi Larry:

    You’re doing your part with lots of good answers. The evening crowd will soon add a lot of comments; however, ‘300’ – that may be a bridge too far. I’d say 100 is a solid par for today’s course.

    I like your idea of keeping the Christian books Christian. I think some publishers think that if the book has no bad language or sex, it’s Christian. I don’t think a Christian book has to preach but it should at least demonstrate Christian values by example. But then crossovers are happening everywhere. I don’t like the crossover trend in country music and when it comes to academia the newest thing is combining disciplines to create a third discipline. These are the hyphenated sciences: biological-anthropology, astro-physics, even experimental-philosophy!

    End Rant.


  87. Since the flow of comments has slowed to barely a trickle, I went back and reread every one -- good entertaining stuff if I do say so myself. Occasionally I noticed that (despite a real effort to not let this happen) I misspelled a word or two. That sort of thing bothers me; does it bother anybody else when that happens? or do you all just expect an editor to fix it? just wondering.

    also, still thinking about the bumbling hero in the Mr Book Look books yet to be written. Part truth with a bunch of fiction to make them interesting? some kind of small town crime solving that doesn't involve the usual murder? what about mixing in some witnessing-as-we-go passages? Danger? A sultry sax playing on a foggy night in littleville? You ladies (and Vince) are great at inspiring: I think we have a winner where can we find someone who can sell these books???????????

  88. Hi Larry:

    Would it be a conflict of interest to sell your own book? Or would it be a confluence of interest? I’ll have to look into this after I hear your thoughts.


  89. typos are standard on blog comments, Larry. Almost required.

    Except on blogs written by writers. We've all got our internal editor on overdrive. We all try and NOT jump back in and correct typos in the next comment. The assumption being the readers will determine what we MEANT to say and ignore what we actually said.

    But sometimes, well, they're just to bad.

    Note in my email about burning Ruthy's beloved book, I said you have to
    HAVE yourself and your books.

    I meant you have to SAVE yourself and your books.

    But it's hardly worth correcting usually. And often when I do correct a typo, yes I take the old one out, but then I put a new one in.


  90. Well, once it's written you could just sell them yourself. It's like the perfect situation.

    You write them, you sell them.

    Let's don't talk about it anymore or our publishers will read about it and before you know it we'll all be going door to door with a van load of books.

    Mr Book Look

    It could be like The Cat Who

    Mr Book Look Gets Renewed
    Mr Book Look is Overdue
    Mr Book Look is on the Stacks
    Mr Book Look Gets Checked Out
    (that sounds wrong)
    Mr Book Look Meets Dewey Decimal

    I'm out of library jokes.

  91. Conflict of interest to sell my own book?? NOT! It would be a conflict of conscience not to! I'd try to sell two copies to every customer; why, I'd hawk them babies on the street corner; there'd be nobody I wouldn't pester about 'em. I learned all the above from selfpub authors tee hee

  92. Mary, I gotta do it...if Mr Book Look went to Hawaii, would one of the lines be (drum roll please) BOOK HIM DANNO? ouch that hurt

  93. speaking of evening... what's with the time on this blog? are you still on daylight time?

  94. The winner of Lassoed in Texas Trilogy will be announced in the Weekend Edition on Sunday. So check back to see if you won.

  95. Oh I just love your blog! so informative and delightful. Mr. Book Look you're so rad. Tell me more

  96. Well it matches my computer, the time that is. So it must be on Central Time, aka, the REAL time.

  97. I'm just going to say one more thing................

  98. .................and that is, this is the 100th comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  99. ooo way cool♥♥♥

  100. I have a Hope as yet Undaunted that there will be more great questions and comments still to come.

  101. Larry,

    What a blessing to hear your story. I collect stories of how one person’s decision coupled with God’s guidance changes the life of a family, neighborhood, or town—and I’m thrilled to read yours.

    Beyond that—it is exciting to know there are still nooks and crannies of this country where things get done the old-fashioned way: face to face and small scale. I remember a café in rural Virginia where the (notice: not one of the) waitress never wrote down folks’ orders, she just knew them and had a great connection and never forgot so much as a cup of coffee in the three years I lived there. She made the night out for a meal a joy and helped everyone feel more a part of the community. Bigger and more technical doesn’t always mean better.

    Bless you for carrying on some great traditions. And getting good books into people’s hands. Wish you the best!

    Mary Kay

  102. A few years ago I loaned/gave my local library about 50 CBA books. So many of them were checked out that they were literally worn out.

    Now they have a very nice section of Christian books available for library members.

  103. Some questions not asked:

    1) do I sell to church libraries? No. What I've found with regard to church libraries is nobody is responsible. Pastor says see the deacons, the deacons say see the librarian, the librarian says she has no authority and NOBODY has any money. No, I don't sell to church libraries.

    2) do I sell to Christian bookstores? No, they need to buy at wholesale so they can make a profit and I sell at retail so I can put food on the table and shoes on my grandchildren if needed.

    3) do other people do what I do? There are other booksellers (fewer and fewer of them) but most all of them sell from pictures or samples and then take orders. I, as the Fuller brush man of the book business, actually sell books on the spot. There are many sources where librarians may purchase books but only a handful of sales people get their foot/feet in the door for a variety of reasons. I'm blessed.

    4) Do I sell for a specific publisher? No, I purchase from a variety of publishers. I try to keep my inventory traditional Christian fiction; I stay away from far left or far right doctrinal types of fiction. Yes, that's out there also.

    5) Do I sell anything else but novels? Yes, I mentioned in the article that I carry kid's picture books. These are not as a rule Christian books, just books with good art work and the right amount of words and sometimes a moral or teachable point. If you were to interview many of my customers they would tell you the kids books are a quality part of my business (altho a smaller percentage of the sales than the fiction).

    6) How much time do I spend on the road travelling to libraries? Normally I sell Tues thru Thur then do paperwork, ordering, etc on Friday and Saturday. This schedule varies but that's the norm. Often I make it back home at night, but spend around 30 nights a year in motels or with relatives.

    7) Do I enjoy what I do? Yes. Of course there are times when the travelling gets tiresome but I consider myself blessed in my work.

  104. I loved reading Mr. Book's story. I love to hear about "God things".

    Ciney W.


  105. oops another unasked question:

    8) How many Christian fiction books are there in a library? When I started, you could put most all the books available on one or two short shelves in a library; now many libraries devote whole sections of the library to these books. One library I go to has all the shelving on the entire back wall of their semisizable library devoted only to my books and that doesn't count all the teen Christian fiction they own. It's a consider percentage of the collection in many libraries today due to the demand of the public -- librarians buy what the public asks for sooooo ASK!

  106. a blog question unrelated to the Book business.

    I've notice all day that when I post a comment, one or more other comments will post at the same time...some as old as 45 minutes. why don't the comments post when they're written? For instance, Pam's 10:01 comment didn't show until I posted my 10:38 comment; and I could go right up the page with the same observation. Just wondering???????

  107. Mary, if I haven't said it yet I'm saying it now THANK YOU! I've had a most pleasurable day with you folks. Perhaps we'll meet again...maybe brainstorming over those Mr. Book Look books yet to be written. I approached your invitation with trepidation but I've learned a lot and really enjoyed myself. Thank you again.

    larry Book Look

  108. yeah I got my books from Cheryl today!! I'm cruising through the first book A Soldier's Promise.I'd been done but was visiting my dad in the hospital(he has to stay til Sunday after his treatment). Felt kinda weird sitting in a cancer hospital when the kid in this book has cancer! But I'd been done regardless but my parents like the room dark and I was going blind(almost)trying to read in the semi-dark!Thanks Cheryl!

    I'm lucky to have a good library system here. I suggest titles online all the time and apparently I'm not the only one because I get the email that the book will be ordered and check the catalog and sometimes there are 3-4 people already in line for the book! They'll also do interlibary loan for us and now it's free(used to be $1.50 per item) Sometimes I like to try out an author before investing money into my own copy! I wish mine would take donations and catalog them though..instead they toss them on the friends of the library shelf. They're also bad about not ordering anything more than 2-3 yrs old even if it's the start of a series. I requested 3 titles and even said the 2nd book is a continuation but nope they refused. One of them they told me to request it interlibrary loan and by the time I did they emailed back saying it had been ordered so guess I wasn't the only one wanting book 4 in the series!

    ok back to my book!

  109. Well. . .Mr Book Look is my father. . .and he is having far too much fun today. . .thank you to all who made this day possible for him .. . I was blessed with a wonderful childhood because of this business. . .and love to read by the way. . .part of life when you're the salesman's daughter! Being taught from day one that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. . .especially a book saleswoman. . .tehe. . .bacause the Lord will bless what He finds honoring. My dad as honored the Lord with his business and not only his children were blessed by it. . . .many others have benefieted from the generous gifts he makes from the fruits of his labor. . .he's a really great guy, great father,great Grandpa, and a great salesman. . .and may I say what a fabulous picture!

  110. Hey - late (or early depending)

    Yes Vince, just here visiting. Usually it's TN. Where is your sister? Maybe we can get together for a visit whenever you're in the area - if it's in the area your sister lives, that I live or however that works. My grandmother was from Oslo!!!

    And my hubby's grandparents from Bergen. :)

    No, May isn't here (but she wishes she was).

    I just stopped in briefly - will be back -no time to peruse the rest.

    Just a thanks to Mr. BookLook - quite a looker no matter if he's not Rowdy. :)

    Precious note from your daughter. That is splendid you are proud of your Dad! YAY!

    Ok - dashing out.

    And thanks to Mary for her Dr. Seuss impression. Pretty cool!

  111. Hi KC:

    My sister lives in Crossville which is right between Nashville and Knoxville. She has three dogs and both her and her husband are retired Army and they just love TN. They have an acreage. Very open and green. I’d love to visit Norway again.


  112. Hi Anonymous. Your dad was a great guest. Thanks for coming by to join in the party.

    We like to think of Seekerville as a party all day every day.

  113. Thank you for letting us know what you do!! What a neat opportunity to sell Christian books to the libraries!! Our daughter, Julie, loves to read and uses the library on almost a weekly basis and finds Christian books to read. Thanks again.
    Chuck and Irene Brocka