Indie First Day was created by author Sherman Alexie last year as a way for authors to support, help and promote independent bookstores, a way to volunteer to give back to them for all they do for authors.
I volunteered. City Lights asked me to read to kids. I took Buddy, .........
I love grassroots movements, don’t you? This is a great way to fight for independents, and one that will help independents fight for their independence.
Everyone loves their local bookstore. And while readers moan, “Oh woe, the bookstore is closing,” the same readers merrily order their books from Amazon. Other small businesses sharing real estate with the bookstores worry, “If the bookstore closes, we’ll have another empty storefront on our block.” But they haven’t stepped foot in the bookstore. Book clubs make a list to order their books from the local bookstore, while members download their copies, leaving the book store with multiple copies to be returned.
Who are the supporters and friends of the independent bookstore? They are the readers who order through the bookstore. They are the business people on the block who spend their lunch hour browsing the bookstore and buying their next book. It’s the book clubs who have remained faithful and read books purchased from their bookstore.
Authors should be counted among those supporters. Independent bookstores have historically been the best friend of authors. Amazon, ebooks and economics have shifted that relationship. I often visit web pages of other authors. I’m surprised how many do not list indie sellers as the first source for their books, only Amazon. This leads readers to think of Amazon as the pot of gold for authors. How many times are authors asked, “Is your book available on Amazon?” Of course it is. Any book ever written (edited or not!) can be on Amazon. Being on Amazon does not make a book “good.” However, if a book is on the shelf at an indie store, chances are good it is “good.” Indie shelves are crowded and they can’t afford space for books without merit. So readers, if you are looking for “free,” or “99 cent specials”, go to Amazon. If you are looking for a good read, go to the bookstore.
Authors often forget that Amazon is a competitor of indie booksellers. Authors sit in the indie book shop signing books, handing out bookmarks that advertise Amazon and telling their customers how to find their books…on Amazon! No wonder indies are reticent to invite us for book signings anymore. Think how rude that is. Would you sit at Starbucks and tell their customers to go to Dunkin’ Doughnuts for coffee?
Authors want bookstores to promote their books and should likewise be giving a shout out to those who do. Unfortunately for us, unless the bookstore lets us know, we don’t know who carries our books. Distributors don’t tell us where our books have gone. But thank the bookstores whenever you can.
Authors and other friends of indie book stores need to take every opportunity to show our support. At the next Indie First Day ask your neighborhood bookseller what you can do for the store. And support Indies first every day, all the time.
Thank you to the following indie stores for carrying my books: Chapter 2, Cashiers; Prosperos, Manassas,VA, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC; Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville; Fountainhead, Hendersonville; Books Unlimited, Franklin; City Lights, Sylva; Avid, Athens, GA; A Novel Experience, Zebulon, GA; The Abbey Bookstore, Conyers, GA; Page After Page, Elizabeth City, NC; BookManBookWoman, Nashville, TN; Curiosity Shop, Murphy, NC; Shakespeare & Company, Kernersville, NC; The Corner Store, Cashiers; The Book Nook, Highlands, NC, Royal Books, Yarmouth, ME, Stray Dog, Three Rivers, MI; Jabberwocky, Fredericksburg, VA; New Covenant, Winston Salem, NC; Full Circle, Oklahoma City; Barritt Books, Virginia Beach. Thank you also to retail shops, libraries and museums that carry my books. Thank you to indie bookstores I don’t know about who also carry my books. I appreciate you all. Hope you had a good indie day.