Last night Kansas-Missouri Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators put on an awesome webinar with Emily Hall Schroen of Main Street Books St. Charles. Emily discussed how authors can build a relationship with booksellers. Not sure who your indie bookstore is? Think you should just pop over to Amazon to place an order. Here are 3 reasons to support your local indie.
An indie bookstore is locally owned. That means that the money you spend at an indie supports the local economy. There’s been a lot of talk about that during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic for good reason. These are the places that pivot quickly and look for ways to keep employees and customers safe while still meeting local needs.
Virtual author events. Speaking of trying new ways to do things, indie bookstores are featuring a wide variety of virtual author events. This one was to educate authors. Emily discussed possibilities for virtual signings, webinars, and more. This may not be the way things have always been done, but it is another way to sell books and the indies are game.
The people that work at indies are passionate about books. I’m not saying that everyone who works for a massive chain fails in the passion department. But Emily’s passion was clear and she spoke about the passion of her staff who hand sell the books they love. At the end of the webinar, Emily took us on a tour of the store, showing us various displays including books by black authors and anti-racist books. “These are among our best sellers right now.” When she was asked what books by black authors people should be reading, she paused. It was clear she was ordering her thoughts before launching into an passionate discussion of several authors and books including You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson and A Song Below Water by Bethany Morrow. What impressed me most about her recommendations is thta they were HER recommendations, not the same titles you see again and again.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve encouraged you all to support your local indie but it is definitely a message worth repeating. They’re local businesses. They are part of their communities. They are passionate about books. Support them.
Good news for authors and readers – independent bookstores are on the rebound! Approximately 40% of indie bookstores closed from the mid-1990s and 2009. But sales are up more than 5% over last year.
For those of you unfamiliar with this term, an independent or indie bookstore is a bookstore that is independently owned. It is a small business.
The great thing about these stores is that they are staffed by book lovers. Shop at an indie and you will find new-to-you authors and a sense of community. And that’s a big part of this upswing – people working to support their communities and small businesses. No, you won’t get the deal you’d get on Amazon but the author will receive a larger royalty and a local business owner will earn a living.
And an indie bookstore is going to offer you services you don’t get from Amazon. At Shakespeare and Co in Manhattan, a special printer can print and bind a book, including a full color cover, in minutes if the book is not in stock.
I live in the St. Louis area. My indies include Half Price Books, Left Bank Books, and Main Street Books.
Not sure how to find an independent bookstore? Type your zip code into the Indie Bookstore Finder at Indie Bound (https://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder) and you’ll get a list of the closest stores. I now have a list of 22 stores. I would debate calling some of these indies since the list includes campus bookstores but I’ve definitely got some new book stores to explore.
Agent Kelly Sonnack has come up with a marvelous, stupendous, amazing idea. We work together to save the whales and polar bears. We’ve already managed to get bald eagles off the endangered list.
So why not Save the Bookstores?
This Saturday, June 16, is Save the Bookstores Day. On that day, if books are special to you, we’d like to ask that you take the time to visit your local independent bookstore.
Swing on by, look through the stacks and take home a new friend. Find out more on Save the Bookstores in this interview that author Tara Lazar did with Sonnack.
Not sure about indies in your area? If you’re here in the St. Louis area, Main Street Books in St. Charles in my favorite. You can also plug your zip code into IndieBound’s Indie Store Finder and it will give you a list of the stores within a certain number of miles of your home.
Come on! You want to go buy a new book. You know you do.
As long as I’m talking about book buying, I thought I’d chat for a moment about my favorite book store.
Last Saturday my family popped across the river to our favorite independent book store, Main Street Books. Popped. As in 20 minute drive. Why do we make this trip? Better yet, why do we drive past the mall that houses a major discount chain store?
As we browsed the shelves, I realized that the man who had just entered wasn’t another customer. He was an author there for a book signing. It seems like most weekends this store hosts a signing or is taking part in some event such as the recent Missouri SCBWI conference for which they stock the sale table. This service is a huge help to conference organizers and one that many bookstores will not provide for us.
Sure, you have to pop out to another shop to get a cup of coffee but when you buy books, you are supporting someone who will support you. In my opinion, you can’t do much better than that.