Reader Profile: Matt Bowes

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Matt Bowes is a voracious reader and movie watcher with a myriad of interests, including comic books, typography, tiki culture, mixology, Regency England, and film history. He’s the General Manager of Edmonton-based publisher NeWest Press, which has been an incredible support to Glass Bookshop. He co-hosts the popular Bollywood is for Lovers podcast with his girlfriend Erin Fraser, and writes about his nerdy pursuits on his blog, This Nerding Life. Read the interview below to discover why Matt is comforted by books and how the publishing industry has changed his relationship to reading.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
I can’t even fathom a time when reading was not a huge part of my life. I’ve been known to just pack books on my person day to day as their physical presence is a comfort in itself. My parents are huge readers, and I have many happy childhood memories of our house being entirely quiet, everyone lost in their own book.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
That being said, my relationship to books now is somewhat complicated by the fact that I’ve been helping make them for the past seven years.  I think my eye toward book design has sharpened, and really well-executed items have a much better chance of making it into my personal collection. I’m also pretty wary of awards hype, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised lately by some big-name winners. Occasionally the juries get it right! I’ve also been reading a lot more mysteries lately, somewhat for market research, but more often because I find their characterization and especially dialogue holds up really well against more literary fare as it has to pass a certain smell test of believability or the mystery doesn’t work.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
My favourite book of all time is Frank Herbert’s Dune. I first read it at the exact perfect age for sci-fi mixed with philosophy, fourteen years old. I think it’s had a lot of impact on the way I view the political world, dealing as it does with false saviours and the corruption of power. It’s one of the only books I’ve re-read, and one of the few I own multiple copies of.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
I wish literature influenced my personal community more! As soon as I know a person is an avid reader I start trying to find out their likes and dislikes, but I could do with a lot more people like that in my life. Ideally people who are willing to read things outside of the bestsellers lists.

How do you find new books or writers?
I kind of feel like I’m finding new writers all the time, but almost entirely by accident? Podcasts, especially on history and current events, have pointed me toward many recent nonfiction picks, whereas just browsing the shelves at stores, looking at beautiful items, that’s how I most often find fiction.

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
Apart from the many events I’ve hosted at bookstores myself, and the still more times when my girlfriend has gotten frustrated with me having to look at every book in the place, I don’t really have any memorable experiences. There is a certain tinge of regret I get when a lot of money leaves my wallet but that’s about it.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
I think that Glass Bookshop could and should offer a great meeting place for many different types of readers. Having a fully accessible building would be great. Unique events like “silent reading” nights can stand alongside traditional author appearances and book club discussions. I’d also be interested in some informative demonstrations, like maybe cocktail demonstrations? Ideally the store is kept up to date with the latest in literary work from around the world, as well. There are so many great translations into English that I have to buy online right now, and I’d rather spend that money in town. Same goes with nonfiction on film, a huge blind spot at other stores.

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

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Matthew Stepanic