Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indies First: Bookseller for a Day

I've always wanted to own a bookstore.  To be surrounded by books all day long and hearing the sweet jingle of a cash register drawer opening every time I convince a shopper to purchase a book I dearly love?  Well, I can't think of a finer profession.

That dream remains elusive and out of reach, but a week from today, I have the chance to be a Bookseller for a Day.  Wish fulfillment in its finest hour.

I'll be taking part in Indies First at two Montana bookstores: Fact and Fiction in Missoula (on November 30) and Country Bookshelf in Bozeman (on December 1).  It's part of the Small Business Saturday movement, but I like to think of it as Book Nerdapalooza.  Next weekend, hundreds of independent bookstores around the U.S. will be staffed by bibliomaniacs like me.  We'll be hand-selling books, gift wrapping packages, working the cash register, and helping antsy, crossed-legged customers find the restrooms--all in all, celebrating the merchandise of words.

Here's a random, partial list of stores and authors:

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona: Ron Carlson, Diana Gabaldon, Adam Johnson, Aprilynne Pike, Tom Leveen and Lisa McMann
Granada Books in Santa Barbara, California: T. C. Boyle
R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut:  Wally Lamb, Natasha Friend, Carlos Eire, James Benn, Tom Greenwald, Nick Hahn, Anne Kubitsky, Michaela MacColl, Bob Shea, Suzanne Palmieri, Christine Pakkala, Bob Steele and Sandi Shelton
Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida: Dave Barry
Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia: Joshilyn Jackson and Laurel Snyder
Rediscovered Books in Boise, Idaho: Anthony Doerr
Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachussetts: Clea Simon, E.J. Graff, Gwen Jensen, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, John Burt, Katherine Powers, Kelly Link, Kim Mclarin, Margot Livesey, Maria Tatar, Megan Marshall, Priscilla McMillan, Randall Kennedy, Steve Yarbrough, Susan Goodman, Sven Birkirts, Tui Sutherland, Ursala de Young and Walter Johnson
Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine: Lily King, Richard Russo, Monica Wood, Scott Nash, Lincoln Paine, Sara Corbett, Michael Paterniti and Christina Baker-Kline
Monkey See, Monkey Read in Northfield, Minnesota: Benjamin Percy
Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Bookseller of the Month here at The Quivering Pen): Daniel Wallace, Rosecrans Baldwin and Alan Shapiro
Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, New York: Jacky Davis, David Soman, Elizabeth Cunningham, Owen King and Kelly Braffett
Broadway Books in Portland, Oregon: Cheryl Strayed, Richard Melo, Joe Kurmaskie and Cari Luna
Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont: Alice Wolf Gilborn and Megan Mayhew Bergman
Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Washington: Jess Walter, Shawn Vestal, Kenn Nesbitt and M. Kari Barr
Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Washington: Sherman Alexie, Garth Stein, Maria Semple, Jennifer Shortridge, Samantha Vamos, Tom Nissley, Kathleen Flynn, Kathleen Fleniken, Ryan Boudinot and Jonathan Evison
The Second Story Books in Laramie, Wyoming: Alyson Hagy

For the rest of the participating bookstores, go to this page on the IndieBound website (note: even though I'm not listed in the Country Bookshelf lineup, I promise I'll be there on Sunday).

Sherman Alexie modeling
the special Indies First tote bag
Indies First began when Sherman Alexie (Blasphemy, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, etc.) sent around a letter to fellow authors, urging us to roll up our sleeves and support those stores which have so generously supported us over the years. "Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores," Alexie wrote. "Here's the plan: We book nerds will become booksellers.  We will make recommendations.  We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends' books.  Maybe you'll sign and sell books of your own in the process.  I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing)."

It took me less than the blink of an eye to get on board with Alexie's enthusiastic recruiting efforts.  I immediately hurried to my closet to grab my bookselling superhero costume (the one with the big "BS" emblazoned on the chest) and sent it out to be drycleaned.

So, whatever you're doing next Saturday, please set aside some time to stop and shop in your local bookstore.  Let's make Indies First a huge success and turn Small Business Saturday into Big Bookstore Weekend.

I urge Quivering Pen readers in western Montana to come out and support their local indie bookstores (my friend Russell Rowland will be at Elk River Books in Livingston, too).  I'll be at Fact and Fiction from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, and at Country Bookshelf from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.  I've got a very special list of book recommendations to give you, so I hope you're prepared to stagger out of the store with an armload of good reading.

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