Most of the events on my book tour so far have or will take place at independent bookstores. The people behind these stores, wave makers in the industry, are feverishly devoted to books.
Originally, I was supposed to have no book tour at all. After all, if you are a first time novelist without name recognition, who will attend your readings? The new trend in book publicity is the virtual book tour via the blogosphere. Indeed, I have been doing a healthy share of Q&A for literary websites I had no idea existed. But this is not the same as meeting people face to face, hearing their reactions to your work, and signing books for them and their loved ones.
It was my good fortune, therefore, that independent bookstore
owners with the wherewithal to read endless advance copies, stepped up to
request readings. Terry Gilman, owner of Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego,
is a powerhouse of book promotion on the West Coast. (Standing, third from right). She organizes the LA-based
“Ladies, Lunch & Literacy” series which brings debut authors to the South
Bay to read, give a talk, and enjoy lunch with readers, many of whom
participate in local book groups. In addition to the LA reading, Terry invited me
to her San Diego bookstore for a delicious event called, “Wine, Women, Books
& Chocolate,” which offers readers the opportunity to discuss books, and
their lives, in a relaxed, informal setting. The desserts were rapturous.
While Terry Gilman is a pillar of support for debut authors on the West Coast, Jaime Clark and Mary Cotton, owners of Newtonville Books in Newton, MA, hold up the sky in the East. Newtonville Books is a modestly sized bookstore with a dynamite reading series. In addition to hosting an average of two readings per week, the little-store-that- could has readers’ clubs, writing workshops, and a community blog. On the night I was there, I was lucky to present with Josh Weil, (shown here signing books with me), who read from his novella collection, The New Valley. Extraordinary, by the way! Both Mysterious Galaxy and Newtonville Books have impressive collections of signed first editions by a wide gamut of authors.
The family owned Book Revue in Huntington, New York, where
I’ll be reading on July 9, has evolved into a Long Island community and
cultural center which offers workshops, book groups and children’s
programs. Despite its long history of
hosting celebrity readings by the likes of Bill Clinton and Caroline Kennedy, the
store is just as happy to support local unknowns like me. My siblings who live
on Long Island can attest to the loyal support this store receives from its
Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, New York, co-founded by
Jonathon Welch, has a contagious passion for books that are idiosyncratic,
unusual, original, and stem from inquiring, free-spirited and independent
minds. They feel that as our culture becomes more uniform, the voices and
visions outside the mainstream become more significant. The store is an icon on
the Buffalo landscape, and it will be an honor for me to read there on July 16.
These have been lean years for indie booksellers competing against big chains in a precarious economy, but those who survived have unique personality, and make vital contributions to the communities they serve.
Here are a few more stores that generously support and promote new and local authors. These are just a few I happen to know about. If you have a bookstore you love, please share it in the comments section. Independent booksellers need us, and we need them.
Anderson Bookshop, Naperville, IL: http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/
Northshire Books, Manchester, VT: http://www.northshire.com/
Warwick’s Books, La Jolla, CA: http://www.warwicks.com/
Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ: http://www.watchungbooksellers.com/