Thursday, June 25, 2015

Galveston Bookshop

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

My most recent book, Texas Gunslingers, was released by Arcadia Publications in mid-December, less than two weeks before Christmas. Arcadia pushed it as an ideal gift for dads, husbands, and grandfathers, and I had a week-long signing tour that extended as far as Ruby Lane Book Store in Post. Ruby Lane is an independent book store, founded and operated by Rosa Latimer, and authors strongly support Rosa and other remaining independent owners.

Texas Gunslingers proved to be a popular Christmas gift, with many people buying four or five copies for the men on their list. I have been asked to provide programs on “Gunfighting in Texas,” and at such events Texas Gunslingers continues to sell well. The theme is that Texas was the Gunfighter Capital of the Old West, and Texans have responded with considerable interest. 

With owner Sharan Zwick and assistant Paul Randall
And so I was pleased when I was called by Sharan Zwick, owner of the Galveston Bookshop. Sharan had been contacted by the Arcadia marketing department before Christmas, but she had a number of seasonal books to promote, and she wanted a Texas Gunslingers signing that would target Father’s Day. I was delighted, of course, and we settled on Saturday, June 13, eight days before Father’s Day. 

The Galveston Bookshop was founded in 1991, and it is downtown, on the edge of the popular Strand shopping district. Through the years I had been attracted to the Galveston Bookshop during visits to this historic city. I had made a few purchases, but I had not become acquainted with any staff members. Now I’ve learned that owner-manager Sharan Zwick is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and of New York’s Columbia University, where she earned a Master’s of Library Science Degree. She worked as a librarian before her career took her away for a time from the world of books. But in 1999 Sharan purchased the Galveston Bookshop. She constantly hosts signings and other appropriate events, while pursuing an active publicity program.

Sharan asked me to send her a bio and a photo, which she began utilizing in PR releases. I received a phone call from Donna Gable Hatch of the Galveston Monthly Magazine. She interviewed me and Dr. Greg Powell, president of Panola College, where I am headquartered as State Historian. Donna’s article, “Texas Gunslingers, A Story of When Texas Was the Gunfighter Capital of the West,” was published in the Culture Section of the June issue of the Galveston Monthly. The book signing was advertised in this magazine and other venues.

With longtime friend Ida Saunders
The signing was scheduled from two to four o’clock on Saturday afternoon. My wife Karon and I arrived half an hour early at the bookstore, where we were greeted by Sharan and her genial assistant, Paul Randall. Customers already were seeking copies of Texas Gunslingers, and I had a grand time visiting with them and inscribing their books. A former student, Melinda Dixon, came in because she had seen the PR. She purchased books and we had a delightful chat. A longtime friend, Ida Saunders, also had seen the publicity and surprised us. Ida was a board member of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History and of the Wild West History Association, organizations in which Karon and I also were active. We enjoyed a fine reunion, and Ida bought several books.

The store sold out of copies of Texas Gunslingers by 3:15. I stayed to talk with customers who continued to arrive, and Sharan took orders for the next week. I had brought copies of my personal bookmarks, and I autographed several for Sharan to place in the books that would come the next week. Karon and I made our goodbyes to Sharan and Paul at four o’clock, and as we drove toward Carthage we talked about the wonderful event at the Galveston Bookshop – and how very pleased we are that Sharan Zwick’s independent store seems to be so healthy.

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