Independent Bookstores and The Best Job Ever.
When I got out of college, I took the first job I could get and people, I’m here to tell you: I was bored, bored, bored. With hope of keeping my mind moving, and a still-warm English Lit degree in my pocket, I took a part time job at my local independent bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. For me, it was a first glimpse of heaven and the perfect job – the people I worked with were curious, smart and nerdy, just like me. Opening boxes of brand new books and then shelving them in the exact right order completely satisfied my OCD tendencies. But the best part were the customers who would come in and ask me what they should read. In fact, even better were the people who, remembering previous books I’d recommended, came back in and asked for more.
My job now as a literary publicist could be thought of as a bookseller on steroids – instead of telling people about books I love one on one, I pitch books to journalists, critics and producers who will (best possible scenario) turn around and spread the word to millions. But there is still nowhere in the world I feel more comfortable, more myself, than at a bookstore.
So I’ve been cheering for my friend Samantha Schoech since she founded Independent Bookstore Day four years ago. This year was the most successful day yet – a one day national party at over 470 independent bookstores across the country (only Hawaii and Arkansas sat it out this year. Hawaii – okay, I get it. Arkansas – you have no excuse). There’s a great story of the Seattle Times book critic, Moira MacDonald, hitting 19 different Seattle stores in one go, here. She called it, (of course she did!), “a perfect day.” The San Francisco Chronicle highlighted a free, two hour Bicycle Book Tour and a Book Lover Quest giving participants the chance to win a library of books worth over $1000 here. The LA Times talked to Samantha about how bookstores all over the country are committed to becoming sanctuaries in our current political climate, here, and pointed out the 15 Los Angeles area stores that were hosting special Indie Bookstore Day events. Bustle had a run-down of all the literary Indie Bookstore items being sold, here. Elle Magazine ran a page from A Literary Cocktail Party, a book produced exclusively for Indie Bookstore Day – author Meghan Daum‘s delicious, true, Ode to Rose, here. Not to be left out, LitHub posted newly-minted Granta Best Young American Novelist Lauren Groff and Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s cocktail recipes, here. Domino Magazine has the first (of many to come) stories of Emma Straub and Michael Fusco opening their gorgeous new Brooklyn bookstore, Books Are Magic, two days earlier than scheduled so they could celebrate Indie Bookstore Day, here. There are more reports and photos from across the country on Shelf Awareness, here.
If you missed out this year, just mark your calendar for next year – it’ll be the last Saturday in April, 2018. And until then – here’s a list of Independent Bookstores. Go talk to a bookseller – they will be happy to lead you to books you didn’t know you needed.