Welcome to The Compass!
Your Guide to Uncharted (Books) Territory
I'm Kate (she/her), the store's newest employee, finally living out a lifelong dream of working in a bookstore. You might remember me from my VUBE guest post, back when we thought the pandemic was only going to inconvenience us for like a month. Now we're all older and wiser, and Tanner has put me in charge of the store's digital marketing efforts, i.e., screwing around here and on Twitter and Facebook.
All three of us—owner Tanner, manager Francis, et moi—will appear on social from time to time. (Obviously, most of it will still be Ramona pictures. If it ain’t broke…) Francis will continue to run the Instagram account because they are young and good at it, and I am neither. But if you find yourself thinking, "Wow, Uncharted suddenly sounds way more like a salty middle-aged feminist than it used to," you're not wrong.
Know Your Bookseller: Me!
1) My first "job" out of college was an unpaid internship at what was then Random House/Knopf Canada. The lead Knopf title that season was Barney's Version, by Mordecai Richler, which turned out to be his last novel.
2) I have a soft spot for problematic 20th-century white guy authors (even a few classic art monsters) once they're conveniently dead. After they're gone, I can comfortably enjoy what they were great at—voice, wit, insight into the secret vulnerabilities of well-off white men—and ignore the things they didn't do so well, like seeing women as full human beings. I figure by remaining on this side of the grave, I've already won any arguments I would otherwise feel obligated to have with them.
[Related: we have more than an entire shelf of John Updike novels in the store. Did you know that buying used means all your money goes to support an independent bookstore, not the estate of a problematic man?]
3) I perk up every time I see a Canadian author on our shelves, because that is what Canadians outside of Canada do. (I am also American, but this unbreakable habit is my Ontarian father's legacy.) So I can tell you that the last time I checked, we had:
a solid handful of Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies
three Yann Martel
two Alice Munro
two David Bezmozgis
One each of Shauna Singh Baldwin, Miriam Toews, Dennis Lee, Andrew Pyper, Jane Urquhart, Richard Wagamese, Barbara Gowdy, Douglas Glover, Alberto Manguel, Thomas King, and Nino Ricci
zero Michael Ondaatje—to the disappointment of a customer who came in looking for The Cat's Table. (If you're reading this, Disappointed Customer, feel free to make yourself known. I'll get in touch if it ever shows up!)
I am definitely forgetting many right now, but I promise you, I clocked them. If you want to read a Canadian author—especially one who was huge 15-20 years ago, which is conveniently both my wheelhouse and the store’s—just ask. 🍁
4) As an author and former publishing professional, I believe very much in buying new books—but I also believe that by some measures, a used bookstore can't be beat.
For one thing, every title you see prominently displayed in Uncharted has earned that real estate not because a publisher paid to promote it, but because someone who works in the store had a genuine positive feeling about it.
Genuine positive feelings may include:
"I love this book."
"The cover is amazing."
"I've seen a lot of the beautiful weirdos who shop here buy this one before."
"This reminds me of being twenty-two and walking around in starry-eyed disbelief that they let me near the people who make the books."
That last one was added to the list during one of my shifts last week, when I spun Barney's Version face out. For Canada. Not fifteen minutes later, a customer bought it, and now I am drunk with power.
This is what I love most about used bookstores: we turn over stock at the pace of readers, not publishers. If it takes you a couple of decades to get around to reading the hottest new titles, we can hook you up.
Speaking of New Books, Though
Did you know you can still support Uncharted while buying new books? Here are some options! (I will not repeat these 25 times in every newsletter, I promise, but most of these options are new, so we’re excited.)
Come into the store and ask us to order it. We'll email you when it comes in. (Please note that this could take anywhere from a couple days to... more than that, pandemic supply chain issues being what they are. If you need a book by a specific date in the very near future, see below.)
Order online through our Bookshop portal. Bookshop is an online Bezos alternative whose mission is supporting indie booksellers. They'll send the book straight to you, and we’ll get a percentage of the sale.
Uncharted specializes in used, rare, and antiquarian books, but we* enjoy new books in all formats, so we're thrilled to be able to offer those as well.
*Me. I enjoy books in all formats. Tanner and Francis might actually be "Give me paper or give me death" people, I don't know. Uncharted contains multitudes.
What We’re Celebrating: Labor Day, National Read a Book Day
Both of these fall on Monday, September 6, so why not read a book about workers and/or labor history? We’ve hand-picked forty new ones over at Bookshop, and in our rare and antiquarian collection, we’ve got labor-related titles ranging from $20 to $75.
Maybe you want a signed copy of Studs Terkel’s The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream for $35? We currently have four signed Studses, in fact.
Or, as always, you could just mask up, pop into the store, and see what’s around. (Besides husky fur. It’s summer. I swear, we try to keep up.)
We can’t wait to see you!