This Saturday, November 30 marks the introduction of Indies First, an idea started by author Sherman Alexie and backed by the American Booksellers’ Association. In September Alexie challenged his fellow authors to “be a superhero for independent bookstores and spend an amazing day hand-selling books.” By coordinating with Small Business Saturday, an American Express initiative founded in 2010 to generate a focus on local, independently owned businesses, Alexie encourages authors to volunteer a few hours of their time to mingle with customers at indie bookstores and, in so doing, give back to the small-business-owners who support them year-round.
More than 500 independent bookstores nationwide will play host to more than 1,000 authors as guest booksellers on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, including a few of our regional favorites: At the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz, Stefan Bolz (The Three Feathers), Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After and You Look Different in Real Life), Susannah Appelbaum (The Poisons of Caux series) and Greg Olear (Fathermucker and Totally Killer) will each spend time during the day wandering through the store to help customers find their next great reads. At the Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, Ann Burg (Serafina’s Promise and All the Broken Pieces) and K. L. Going (Fat Kid Rules the World and King of the Screwups) will be on hand to share their favorites and, of course, schmooze with readers – perhaps their favorite activity outside of actually writing great stories.
Oblong Books and Music in Millerton will host Margaret Roach (And I Shall Have Some Peace There and The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening and Life) and Lisa Lutz (The Spellman Files, Document #1). And in the Rhinebeck store, customers can chat with Jacky Davis (the Ladybug Girl stories), Kelly Braffet (Last Seen Leaving, Josie and Jack, Save Yourself) and Elizabeth Cunningham (Bright Dark Madonna, Red-Robed Priestess, The Passion of Mary Magdalen). Check each venue for exact times, and expect the unexpected: Other local authors might just float in and out during the day.
The enthusiasm of participating authors to give up their own holiday shopping and relaxing time to hang out with avid bookstore people is evident. “It’s a cool thing,” says Jennifer Castle. “I’ve lived here in New Paltz for three years, and my recent book is set in New Paltz. Inquiring Minds has supported me and hosted my events. I contacted them about Indies First, and they were very excited to participate. I think it’s good for authors to have a taste of that hand-selling experience. We promote our own books, but have never been on the other side – out in the store itself, helping match people with books. This is what an indie has above Amazon or a big store. It’s a cool side of the book world that authors usually don’t get to experience.”
For more info about Indies First, visit www.bookweb.org/indies-first. To learn more about the independent bookstore oasis that is the Hudson Valley, read our piece, “Turn up the Volumes,” at https://ulsterpub.wpengine.com/2013/04/18/turn-up-the-volumes/.