Six months with no public library has been painful. Thank goodness my daughter and I know where all the Little Free Libraries are in our neighborhood. (16 in a 1/2 mile radius!) We bike around and collect reading material when we need a break. Thanks to the pandemic, I finally finished building my own version in my front yard. Check out their map to find more near you. If you're interested in building your own, this book has great inspiration.
The Portland Book Festival (formerly known as Wordstock) is coming up. Though I know it is difficult to get downtown, park, and navigate crowds with young children, the benefits of the Festival are so great! And there's a great new addition this year: Me! Leading a bunch of favorite kids crafts. Find me in the tent outside the Oregon Historical Society and ...
Right next door, at the Oregon Historical Society, you can see your favorite authors & illustrators as they give STORYTIMES and sign their books after.
There's more! Books and gifts and freebies at the Book Fair, panels on writing throughout the festival, good food trucks, and great bookish energy. The Festival is free to kids (17 and under) and adults can buy Advance passes for $15 (day-of passes increase to $20) which include a $5 voucher to spend at the extensive book fair. All passes include admission to the Portland Art Museum.
Is there a right way to buy a book these days? I say nope, because every book matters. But if you're wondering how your purchase matters to moi, the author, read on.
Authors and illustrators get an equal percentage of every book sold. Since printing costs of picture books are high, that percentage is usually about 10% of the list price, split between them 50/50. Which means for every $10 book sold, I would get $.50 for the hardback, or $.30 for the board book. As you can imagine, the goal is quantity, and any way you buy is good for me in the long run. For example:
What about e-books?
These generally function the same way as paper books do, though authors and publishers have been arguing about e-book royalty rates. (Creators believe that the lack of printing costs should translate to larger portions for them -- the standard split is currently 12-20%, which would be halved with the illustrator.) Since board books like Go, Bikes, Go! are made for toddlers, they are not usually offered as e-books, and e-book sales for picture books still make up a small percentage of all sales.
This is the cover for my newest board book (to be released to the public in Spring 2019!) Illustrated by Alexander Mostov, published by Little Bigfoot, Go, Bikes, Go! celebrates the variety of bikes and bikers I have seen in my rides around Portland --where an estimated 3.5% of our citizens commute by bike. (Which seems low, until you compare it to the national average of .4%.) But don't mistake me for a hard-core, lifelong biker. I grew up on a gravel road miles from pavement. No, I didn't really ride a bike until I was twenty-five. Here's the story.
When I moved across the country -- from Washington, DC to Portland, OR, at age twenty-four -- my one and only aim was to "be an artist." Thus starts my fifteen years of teaching jobs and art shows, public projects, rejections, and picture books, the building of my current life. On that fated journey West, I made the very bad decision to buy a new car -- a silver Honda Civic whose interior I can still almost smell. In my second year of "being an artist" and all the part-time, low-paying jobs it entails, I couldn't pay my debts. My student loans got deferred, my credit cards got cut up, and my cute little car got... repossessed. (A relief, by that point.) A friend gave me a bike.
I remember my first ride, guided by my friend Beth through Portland's streets. I remember her saying, "don't weave in and out of cars, stay straight and in the view of drivers." I remember wavering when I turned corners, sweating profusely, and generally hating it. That was before the rainy season. I don't remember if it took weeks or months to really enjoy biking. But I spent the next three years commuting solely by bike (and bus and borrowed friend.) Those rides are some of my great moments in Portland. Once I found a free drawing table that I balanced all the way home. Once I felt like I was riding straight into the moon (the basis for the painting below) and it was magic. Many times I felt connected to my fellow riders, strong in my own skin, and just happier to be alive. (Something I've never felt in a car.)
I am on my third bike now, and the first one I actually paid for -- $150 on Craigslist. These days, I share a car with my husband and turn out to be naturally lazy. I bike less than I should and gripe about how busy Portland has gotten. But sometimes still, I feel the magic. Go, Bikes, Go!