With just over two weeks to go until Small Business Saturday on November 28, independent booksellers around the country are getting ready for the third Indies First celebration and the ensuing holiday shopping season.
At Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif., children's author Mac Barnett (Sam & Dave Dig a Hole; President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath) will sell books from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Small Business Saturday. According to store owner Michael Barnard, there will be raffles all day; each person who comes into the store will get a ticket. Barnard also plans to bring in some signed stock that normally his store doesn't carry.
"But mostly we're going to be selling books," he said. "It's a really busy day for us. It's bigger each year."
Rakestraw Books has been participating in Indies First since Sherman Alexie first proposed the idea two years ago. At first, he said, people's support for the event came as something of a surprise. "It really is something that people are excited about," explained Barnard. "They get it. And they got it so easily."
In Doylestown, Pa., Doylestown Bookshop will have authors in store from noon until 1:30 p.m. Each author will be set up in a different part of the store with a display of their top five favorite books. Having the personal selections on the table, said marketing and publicity manager Krisy Paredes, serves as a great conversation piece and helps make the guest booksellers more approachable.
"It really opens it up for the customers," Paredes continued. "They usually end up buying everything off the table."
There will be more guest booksellers later that day, but they won't be local authors. They include the mayor of Doylestown, the president of the local business association and Penguin Random House sales representative Bobbie Ford, who will also have to have their five favorite books picked out. And although plans are not yet finalized, Paredes hopes to end the day with some live music in store, and throughout the day there will be light refreshments. A nearby brewery, in fact, has created a bookshop brew, and it's releasing that beer on Small Business Saturday.
"We've been doing Indies First since the beginning," said Paredes. "We absolutely love it. We really wanted to try this year to mix it up, to not have just authors."
At Fiction Addiction in Greenville, S.C., owner Jill Hendrix is bringing in local self-published and small press authors for Indies First. The authors will come in groups of three, and each group has a 90-minute slot. In her area of the South, Hendrix explained, it can be difficult to bring in big-name local authors, and one needs to stretch the definition of local. She's learned from the previous Indies Firsts that the author-as-bookseller route doesn't work quite as well for her area as it might in a more urban area with more authors.
"But we do want to include authors, which is why we do small press," she added. "And we really like the promotional idea and discounts that the ABA has negotiated for us."
Looking ahead to the holiday season, Hendrix noted that her store is having its best year to date and she hopes that trend will continue. "People seem inclined to spend," she said. "I'm hopeful that it will be a very good holiday season."
In Manzanita, Ore., Cloud & Leaf Bookstore will be participating in Indies First for the first time. The store is hosting seven local authors as booksellers, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Among the visiting writers are Lauren Kessler, author of Raising the Barre, and Mark Scott Smith, author of Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific West. There will also be treats from a local bakery and discounts on selected titles and holiday gifts throughout the day.
"I think it's going to be fun," said owner Jody Swanson. "We're usually busy that day anyway. And I know all the authors--they're all local people."
At Bank Street Book Nook in New Milford, Conn., co-owner Vanessa Gronbach will offer refreshments along with some specials and promotions. No authors have been confirmed yet, but Gronbach hopes to have a few local authors serve as guest booksellers. Gronbach bought the bookstore in February 2014, and last year's Small Business Saturday was her first. That day, two children's authors handsold books to children. "It was fantastic," she recalled. "It was so much fun."
This year, Gronbach said, she plans to be fully stocked with books. "We underestimated how many people came out on Small Business Saturday last year."
Charis Circle, the nonprofit connected with Charis Books & More, Atlanta, Ga., is celebrating Indies First with a 24-hour read-a-thon fundraiser, during which participants read whatever they want, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote.
The event will be held Sunday, November 29, starting at 12:01 a.m. Readers and others are encouraged to donate on their own behalf or on behalf of participants. Charis Circle hopes to raise $10,000, and already has more than $2,000 pledged. --Alex Mutter
You can see a map of Indies First/Small Business Saturday events here.