So much love, a tiny bit of hate

This post was written by regular Friday blogger Annie Reid.

Thanks again to everyone who sent in some indie bookstore love in response to my call a few weeks back. Here’s more appreciation for local indie bookstores, including an author’s perspective.

(For those who like a little sour with their sweet, over at #1HS, it’s still hateweek, so for some counterpoint, check out some mild hatred directed towards some indie bookstores over there – with a shocking suprise guest! Hate while you still can – it’s Friday already – and next week might be ignorance week or mildly tolerant week or something. It just won’t be the same.)

But enough of that – on with the love:

Michael Hayward, of my new hometown Vancouver, was inspired by the call to post on his blog this fantastic and comprehensive list of indie bookstores in Vancouver, including White Dwarf (science fiction and fantasy specialists), Dead Write (mystery and thriller specialists), and the famed Little Sister’s Bookstore, whose struggles with Canadian customs over what exactly is “obscene” have inspired at least one documentary. He also includes an elegy of sorts for the recently closed and fondly remembered Granville Book Company.

The esteemed proprietess of Booklust had the same idea a while back (I fully admit to being a laggard), and here’s her great appreciation for A Different Drummer Bookstore in Burlington. Check out the comments for much inspired discussion and more bookstore love.

Author Terry Bain drops a line to lovingly articulate what independent bookstores can do for writers that big chains cannot or do not, particularly Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, Washington:

1. In general, I can call the folks Auntie’s bookstore (or almost any independent bookstore, actually) and arrange to sign my books, read my books, or otherwise promote my books. As a first-time author whose book ships from a corporate publisher (Random House), I cannot do the same at a corporate bookstore, because only the corporations are allowed to talk to each other.

2. When I hand-sell a book (to somebody at church, at a party, in an elevator), I have them write their check to Auntie’s Bookstore. This way I don’t have to be in the bookselling business.

3. It is one thousand times easier to get an independent bookstore on your side if you are a local author, and once you do they can be one thousand times more helpful. The box stores simply have too many corporate requirements to be much use to you as an author. Auntie’s, for instance, was able to sell more than 500 copies of my book in the 3 months immediately following its release. Booksense even called them and said, “what on earth do you have going on there?” Well, you have a local author with the support of the community, which includes the support of the local independent bookstore. A darn good combination.

4. When Auntie’s gets a new shipment of my books into the store, we have requested that they email us so that I can come in and sign the new copies. The corporate stores are expressly forbidden (usually) from contacting authors on their own.

5. Auntie’s will regularly invite me for author panels, for events, for whatever they need a local author for. To arrange a simple book signing or other author event, my publisher has to request it of corporate Bookbox, at which point the request can be forwarded to the local store, scheduled, and confirmation is sent back to my publisher, who contacts me and says “here’s your schedule.” Barnes & Noble is three miles from my house. With Auntie’s I call. They schedule with me on the phone. I’m finished. I smile. I pour a bowl of cereal.

6. Auntie’s loves writers almost as much as they love readers. They do as much as they are able. When people come in looking for my book, they talk about me, about who I am, and they sell my book. I did not pay for that space. I can not pay for that space. They do the same, I know, for many local writers. They give the kind of support you simply cannot buy. And for that I honor and thank them.


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