Category Archives: #IndieThursday

Small Business Saturday: November 24, 2012

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know already how much supporting local businesses, specifically local independent bookstores, is to me.  I don’t ask you for much, right? Well, today I am.

Small Business Saturday® (November 24th) is a day dedicated to supporting businesses that support the local economy. Although I will be hosting Thankfully Reading Weekend, I do plan on taking a break to shop local. Set between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is this special day to show support of local small businesses nationwide. Last year, over one hundred million people* came together to Shop Small® in their communities on Small Business Saturday®.  Let’s see if we can increase those numbers for 2012.

It’s really simple: just shop local! While I’d like you to do this every day, make a conscious effort on Small Business Saturday to shop local stores, be it coffee shops, bakeries, or in my case, bookstores!

Because of this tremendous event, this week’s #IndieThursday will be celebrated on Small Business Saturday. Use the hashtags #smallbizsat and/or #IndieThursday to share how you have helped support the local economy. To learn more, visit ShopSmall.com.

This is such a simple but important request. Go forth & shop local!

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Author Ryan Jacobson

To celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome author Ryan Jacobson! Ryan was very integral in the creation of Indie Thursday! Today Ryan talks about one kind of independent bookstore we often overlook: comic book stores!

Bookstores have never been a big part of my life. I grew up in a family that didn’t read much, in a town without a bookstore. The closest one was almost an hour away. Even now, in my adult life, the nearest bookstore is 30 miles from home. So why am I writing a post to celebrate Indie Thursday? Because there’s one type of independent bookstore I’ve been driving an hour or more to reach since I was sixteen: the often overlooked red-headed stepsister of the “traditional” indie bookstore—the comic book store.

Nowadays comics are a little more mainstream, but back when I was a teen, comic stores felt like a safe haven, a place where it was okay to be a comic book geek. We could congregate, share our like interests and debate such important topics as whether Batman could beat Captain America. (He totally could!)

I didn’t get many chances to visit my favorite comic shop, Rainbow Collectibles in Sioux Falls, SD. So when I did make the trip, it felt like a national holiday. Walking through the doors was stepping into a paradise of everything I loved: toys, trading cards and, of course, comics. I’d save for weeks and bring home at least a month’s worth of reading.

College marked the only years of my life when I lived in the same town as a comic book store—or any type of bookstore, for that matter. Ironically, it was the one time I fell out of love with the medium. (In my defense, so did everyone else. The ’90s were dark years for the comic book industry.)

Eventually comics came back, and so did I. But once again I found myself in a comic book wasteland. Perhaps that’s what makes comic shops so special: They are few and far between. Many of them are little more than boxes and shelves in someone’s garage. Others are megastores that even include rooms set aside for gaming. And I love them all. Just like independent bookstores, indie comic shops aren’t run by money-hungry, greed-driven, talking suits. Each one exists because its owner has a passion. Someone chased their dream. It may not be easy, but they’re living it, one customer at a time.

I understand it all too well because it’s a dream I share. I’d love to someday own my own comic book store. And, hey, if this whole author thing pans out, maybe someday I will.

So, next time you’re planning an Indie Thursday purchase, remember your local (or regional!) comic shop. They deserve your love too.

 

Ryan Jacobson has always loved choose your path books, so he is thrilled to get a chance to write them. He used his memories of those fun-filled stories and his past experiences to write Lost in the Wild. The book became so popular that he followed it with Storm at the Summit of Mount Everest and Can You Survive: Jack London’s Call of the Wild.

Ryan is the author of nearly 20 books, including picture books, comic books, graphic novels, chapter books and ghost stories. He lives in Mora, Minnesota, with his wife Lora, sons Jonah and Lucas, and dog Boo. For more details, visit RyanJacobsonOnline.com.  You are invited to read a free version of the short story Can You Survive: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum on Ryan’s web site.

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Why I Love Indie Book Stores by Lee Woodruff

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome author Lee Woodruff!

Why I Love Indie Book Stores

Ever since I was little, I’ve been an avid reader.  I was the kid in the corner of the room who had eschewed cards, board games and neighborhood kick ball to curl up with my book.  I was the one engrossed in a story.

After school, the local library was my hang out, the librarians and I were on a first name basis. They introduced me to history, new worlds and new frontiers, imaginary friends and the lives of memorable people.

Books remained important to me as I moved through my life.  And when I married a man whose career took us to many different towns, the local book store in each one became my watering hole.  I was drawn to them the way some women are to purses and shoes.  If you’d asked me my idea of a perfect day, back when mothering four children sometimes felt like being sucked in a sinkhole, I would have answered, “Being in a bookstore alone.”  I still would.

At that point in my life, I was a freelance writer, earning an income by putting words together, and that gave me the means to possess books.  I loved the feeling of owning them, of lining them up on my shelves at home the way some people collect jewelry or gold.  And unlike library books, I could bend the pages to keep my place or underline the sentences I found meaningful.  My local book store owners came to learn my tastes, recommend new releases or direct me to a review.  There was small talk and gossip, the questions about my children and family, and I, in turn, would ask after them. We’d shoot the breeze as my eyes ran up and down the shelves looking for the latest read or a book I’d kept forgetting to add to my list.

When I became a published author in 2007, I understood the value of indie book stores from a totally different perspective than that of a customer.  I had the honor and pleasure of meeting some of the owners and employees at iconic stores like Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, Powell’s in Portland, Oregon, RJ Julia in Madison, CT, Politics & Prose in DC  or Book Passage in Marin County, California.  I learned to get comfortable with popping in a place like Bookshelf in Truckee, CA when visiting my brother in law, to introduce myself and sign the books in stock.  And I look forward, with the release of my first novel this May, to hopefully heading to stores I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting like One More Page in Arlington, VA or Bookends in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Every single employee in these indies is a true insider.  They have tapped into the heart beat of their community, the pulse of the book clubs, readings and events in their towns.  And each one has put their own wonderful signatures on their leg of my book tours, from driving me in their cars to a speaking venue to my memory of Roger in Kansas City showing me how he greased the signing table in the back so we could sign all 500 books in record time, to Roxanne in Connecticut letting me choose books for my kids in return for speaking there.  I’ve kept up with many of the indie owners personally and I consider my relationships with them a great privilege.  They are my partners, in a sense, recommending my books to their customers and championing me to their local book clubs or including my work in their “picks.”  They’ve schlepped countless cartons of my books to sell at speaking engagements and fundraisers.  They helped to put me on the map.  And we book people are a loyal lot.

Arcade bookstore outside of New York City, is my hometown indie.  My family gets all of our books from Patrick, who also happens to play in a Jazz band.  School-assigned reading, my personal picks, gifts for friends, books on tape.  Shopping local is the only way we roll and the doors are still open because so much of the townsfolk feel the same.

These are scary times for my indies.  As if the big box stores, the chains and the internet hadn’t already eroded a once wonderful, dependable local business, now the e-book has de-stabilized things again.  It’s more important than ever to be a patron, to retain what is special about your local independent book store and re-discover the magic of opening the door and hearing the bell tinkle as it hits the glass.  If you haven’t visited in a while, please do. I promise you’ll walk out the richer for it.

 Lee Woodruff is the co-author of  the New York Times bestselling “In an Instant” which she wrote with her husband, ABC-News reporter Bob Woodruff, after his near-fatal injury in Iraq in 2006.  Her second book of essays, “Perfectly Imperfect-A Life in Progress”  was also a best-seller.  Woodruff’s first novel will be published by Hyperion in May 2012.  She lives in Rye, NY with her husband and four children.

Spend some more time with Lee Woodruff at her website www.leewoodruff.com or follow her on twitter @LeeMWoodruff

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Kelly Simmons, Author of The Bird House

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Kelly Simmons, author of The Bird House:

When my first book was about to come out, all my writer friends told me to make the rounds of local libraries and independent bookstores to introduce myself.

I started at the library, arriving at the desk with my brightest salesperson-on-commission- smile, and told them I was a local author and would like to donate a few books.  I put them on the desk proudly.   “Huh,”  the head librarian replied.  “Never heard of you.”   Well, I said, this is my first book.  Silence.  But I have a two-book deal. “Uh-huh,” she said.  Finally I pulled out my last stop:  I wrote the whole thing, here at your library!  Right over there!  I pointed to a seat by the window.  I blathered on about my willingness to do a reading, alone or with others, promising to bring chocolate cookies or tequila shooters or who knows what I said, because it was so humiliating I wanted to curl up and die.

Steeling myself, I continued on to the indie bookstore a few towns over and introduced myself to the owner. I showed him my postcards and he said, “Huh. I’m an author too.”  Oh, really, I said?   “Yes,” he replied, and proceeded to tell me all about his book, and why I should buy it.  So I did, of course. (In hardcover, I might add.)And as he handed my bag to me, he informed me that he couldn’t order my book because didn’t do business with Simon & Schuster anymore.  “I’m a little bit behind on my bills.”

Welcome to the show, my friends said.

The next day, my young daughter handed me her list of summer reading books, and I drove to the only bookstore in my town:  Children’s Book World, in Haverford, Pennsylvania.   A girl named Sarah helped us find all the books, and excitedly recommended a few others she thought my daughter would like.  As we stood at the register, my daughter said, “Maybe they have your book, Mommy.”   Sarah brightened, asked me if I was an author, and I sheepishly said yes. She literally clapped her hands together, congratulating me, and brought every other employee over to meet me and exclaim over my postcards and listen to my elevator pitch about the plot. Then she said, “Well, we must order it right now!”  She got on the computer, and ordered six of them.  “We’ll sell them to the moms,” she smiled.  “And you must come back and sign them.”

And thus began an enthusiastic, symbiotic relationship with a store that shouldn’t even carry my books, yet does.  Many of my author friends, when they do their own publicity, or do festivals and events, order books directly from their publishers. Not me. I order my books from Children’s Book World.

I would order my blue jeans, my birthday cakes, and my Thanksgiving turkey from Children’s Book World if I could.  Because when you find an independent bookstore that truly loves books, and loves authors, you don’t want to shop anywhere else.

As for the library?  Well, I wrote my second book in a coffee shop.  (An independent coffee shop.)

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Manda Collis from Mandarific!

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Manda Collis from mandarific.

The Magic of Independent Bookstores

I was one of those kids that preferred books to people.

I can think of at dozens of occasions where, as a kid or teenager, my parents had to tell me to stop reading. Not like they were being rude, of course – but I brought books everywhere. I brought them to read at the table at home and restaurants alike, any time we got in a car, I’d read during class if I could get away with it. I remember one time waiting for Vertical Horizon to perform at an outdoor Labor Day concert – I wasn’t interested in the opening bands, so I walked to a local bookstore and picked up my first John Green novel, Looking for Alaska, and read it while I listened to the musicians play. Another time I poured through a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula while on a charter fishing boat in the middle of the gulf stream, fishing for cobia. Between stories of Jonathan Harker’s time at the castle, I dropped the book to reel in 40 pound fish. Once I was done, I’d pick up the book again. I never stopped reading.

Here’s the thing though – I grew up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina: an area without Big Giant Scary Commercial Bookstores. The nearest Barnes and Noble was two hours away. I admit it, it fascinated me as a kid to be around so many books, but that was a rare treat. The rest of the time I bought my books from Manteo Booksellers, a tiny, charming store nestled in the heart of downtown Manteo, North Carolina – not far from where the famed Lost Colony made camp under Sir Walter Raleigh all those centuries ago. Visiting the store meant several things: One, I could order books that weren’t on the shelf. This meant I could get books that weren’t available at Wal-Mart, or weren’t even popular books. Maybe a book I saw in the library that was forever on hold, or one I’d read about online. Two, I could explore. When you first walked in, the store seemed tiny. Then the additional rooms unfolded like a pop-up book, one after the other; the children’s room, the local history room, the art books and expensive pencils and journals and anything you could possibly imagine. It was absolute paradise; so much so that my parents on more than one occasion plopped me off while they ran errands and I’d read one, two, three short books in that time span, or start several and pick and choose. Sometimes I’d just wander the shelves, looking at all the titles, wondering if something interesting would jump out at me.

Three, of course, was the Bookstore Cat that lived there. I didn’t have cats growing up, but I loved them, and any opportunity to hang out with the Cat was a good one. I enjoyed it.

Years later, I moved out, my parents moved on, and I moved back again. When I came back to the beach after a few years living in the city, our new home on Ocracoke Island was located so close to another small bookstore that I could hear the owner chatting with customers and friends on the front porch if I stood outside, listened close enough, and the island breeze was blowing in just the right direction. Leslie, the owner, was my first “friend” on the island we’d moved to – it wasn’t far from where I grew up, but I didn’t know a soul. We met on twitter one way or another – she was tweeting both about books and daily island life. I tweeted about everything. It was a good match.

Leslie’s store unfolded in much the same way as the one in Manteo, but it was much smaller. The whole thing looked like it’d been someone’s home years and years ago, it had a front porch and the shelves were snuggling very close together and there was a “Try not to slam the door” sign handwritten and taped at the entrance. A big sign out front announced that you’d arrived at “Books to Be Red & Deepwater Pottery” – the same place, of course, just a small corner was devoted to pottery and the rest to books. This was the kind of place that you rode your bicycle to, walked in barefoot if you wanted. She had an extensive collection of island tales, local history, seafood cookbooks, everything that makes you feel like you’re really living the island life.

Since I really didn’t know many folks on the island, I showed up about once a week to get a new book, sometimes more. If Leslie didn’t have it in stock, she’d order it for me. As it turns out, that John Green book I bought all those years ago? That guy became one of my favorite authors – and people, thanks to his video blogs – and when I showed up on Ocracoke Island, Leslie made sure I could get his books as soon as they came out. She made suggestions, asked me for recommendations, and sometimes just sat out front in the hot Carolina sun to gossip. I had a place to go when I was bored, lonely, or just in need of a good story.

Small bookstores like Books to Be Red, like Manteo Booksellers- they’re important. It’s not just about the books, the printing, the pages, the barcodes. It’s about the people you meet inside, about the atmosphere, about how much reading just brings people together. Standing in Leslie’s shop, at times you’re almost shoulder to shoulder with other customers. It’s hard not to comment on their purchases, hard not to say “That’s a great book!” It’s hard not to be friendly and discover someone who’s interests might be similar to your own (or very, very different.)

Big Box Stores are great. I won’t forget how amazing it was to step into Barnes & Noble for the first time and see all those options – but indie bookstores? They’re something downright magical. You can’t replicate that kind of friendliness, that welcoming kind of atmosphere. Don’t ever be surprised by how at home you can feel thanks to a friendly smile and a couple of books – that place might just become your second home.


Manda Collis is a 23 year old traveler, hoop dancer, web designer, and most importantly – Book & Internet Enthusiast. She currently lives in Janesville, Wisconsin with her boyfriend and a very large library (consisting largely of role playing books), where she relocated to after 20+ years of living in the south. She most enjoys reading young adult fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, and the back panels of cereal boxes. You can find her on twitter at @mandarific88 or check out her blog at mandarific.com.

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: The Vicarious Dream by Alma Katsu, Author of THE TAKER

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome  Alma Katsu, author of The Taker.

THE VICARIOUS DREAM

                                                                

Book people are pretty much the same. Like me, you probably went to the library a lot when you were a kid. Maybe you were introverted and books became your friends, maybe you came from a restrictive household and books were your means of escape. You start to notice that you like to hang out in bookstores. In the small town in which I grew up, that meant a store downtown that sold a narrow selection of books and magazines along with stationery, gum and gifts. When you go on vacation, you visit the bookstores in town. More often than not, you read a book before going to sleep. You might listen to audiobooks when you drive, or knit, or when you’re on the treadmill or power-walking through the neighborhood. Unlike your neighbors and co-workers who congregate over coffee to talk about last night’s episode of American Idol, you want to talk to someone about the last book you read.

There’s one other trait book people have in common. When you dream about retirement, you don’t think about raising poodles or going to Boca Raton. You dream about opening a bookstore. You pick out the perfect neighborhood for it in your area, or you do a little idle research to find a place you’d move to, if you had the money. You spend your allotted time to daydream outfitting and decorating the store, and deciding what events you’d host in your spaces. Book club evenings, of course. Children’s story hour on the weekends. A bridge night? Chess club? Why not? It’s your store. You decide whether or not to offer food: just coffee? Baked goods? Or go whole hog, with sandwiches and snacks? Before too long you’ve dreamed yourself a bookstore and café. A lot of work, but why not? It’s just a dream.

And it’s a nice dream, but it’s likely to stay a dream, because who among us has the nerve to make it a reality? To learn how to run a bookstore, hassle with leases and permits, take the financial risk? No, for most of us it’s a secret pleasure, a thought that more than makes us happy: it reaffirms our faith that there will be a gentle space for us in the world, filled with our favorite things.

For that, you can thank an independent bookstore. For shouldering the risk, or keeping the lights on and the chairs comfy. For stocking the books, and shipping returns to the distributors and ordering more books. For dusting the shelves, making the pot of coffee, paying the taxes and keeping the doors open. For always giving book people a place they go, to forget about the world for a while and be immersed in a good book and in great company.

 

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker (Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster), released on 6 September. This post is a paean of thanks to One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia, which has come to nurture many readers and writers since its opening at the start of the year.

 If you are in Northern Virginia, be sure to stop by One More Page Books tonight for the release party of Alma’s debut novel, THE TAKER!

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Not Fooling Anyone by Jennifer Tepavcevich

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Jen from Running in the Rain and The Brevity Experiment.

Not Fooling Anyone

 

 I am a certifiable bookstore brat.  You hear and read about army brats all the time; people who grew up with parents moving them from military base to  military base.  While my parents were always very stationary non-military types my childhood was largely defined by epic trips to independent bookstores.  My parents would drive my siblings and I into the city and they gave us our allowance.  I would spend as much time as possible weighing my options and agonizing until the last minute about which book of many I would ultimately take home.  The forced march to the register was torturous as I always second guessed my choices but after all of that I’d have in my possession a singularly fantastic book that I would read and re-read until the binding finally gave way with a sigh of exasperation from repeated abuse.

While it is entirely possible I romanticize my childhood bookstore visits a bit and wax somewhat poetic about the experiences had in those golden days I cannot say that such a childhood myth didn’t project into my adult life.  What isn’t mythical or romantic about going into a small, out of the way place, that contains more information and stories than could be successfully digested in a lifetime?  It’s an adventure picking up books that float like some undiscovered country just out of reach until that moment.  They are perspectives, thoughts, feelings that persist long beyond the final page.  Yes, bookstores have always been magical places with their lacunas and well stocked niches.

So as a bookstore brat, with each new place I find myself I hunt out the local bookstores to find that touchstone linking the past to the present.  Independent bookstores, as so many of us know, provide not just reading materials but they also tap into that part of culture we hold most dear.  It is there that we make acquaintances, perhaps even friends, and have meaningful conversations about editions, authors, and all the various tropes that literature has to offer.  They provide a sort of intellectual watering hole that become more and more valuable the older we get.  How else do we find the time and place by which to connect with others about a passion held most dear?

As more and more bookstores close and independent booksellers struggle for their survival it becomes imperative to support our aforementioned passions.  Yes, it is more expensive to buy a book new from a shop at full price than to order it for a penny plus shipping from an online seller.  As the economy becomes ever an ever more hostile place for the consumer it is doubly so for the independent business owners who have not only invested much of their personal wealth but also much of their lives to these bastions of literate society.  While we are financially rewarded for seeking the ‘best deal’ on our flights of fancy or our fonts of information it is at times done so at a cost to that which gave us the opportunity to purchase, learn, and grow in the first place. 

As author Neil Gaiman said, “…a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”  As a man who has made a living out of using fiction to illustrate what is most true about the human condition he would certainly be an authority on the subject.   Bookstores provide second homes for those of us divorced from our last or far from our own.  They give the opportunity for the meeting of minds and a place for children to haggle with their parents over the cost of paperback verses hardback. They are places of wonder, mystery, and enlightenment.  I find that a town’s soul often resides within their bookstores and honestly, I would never want to live in a town without a soul.

Jennifer Tepavcevich can be found at @JenTepavcevich and on both of her fiction blogs.  Running In The Rain is an online novel with chapters posted weekly.  The Brevity Experiment  is the home to many works ranging from flash fiction to short stories.  She spends much of her time reading, writing, and dreaming. 

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Three Lives, Many Memories

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Rosa Jurjevics, her blog is Type Faster


I was thirteen years old when I landed my first job working at the Three Lives and Company bookstore in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Spring was around the corner, so the city was filled with the promising dampness, and I often found myself lost in daydreams as I swept the sidewalk outside in the sweet air.

The bookstore’s then-owners, the inimitable Jenny Feder and Jill Dunbar, put me to work in the basement, where returns were boxed and cataloged. I was a tall, slightly androgynous teen with long arms and a slouchy walk typical of my age, and I had to bend almost double to avoid hitting my head on the basement’s ceiling-maze of pipes and beams. Adjacent to the boiler room, there was a small desk area for me to work at, giving the place a sweet if not entirely habitable feel. It was hot there in the bowels of the store, and the floors creaked and groaned as customers perused the considerable collection above me.

Sometimes, if I was very lucky, I could emerge from the depths and work alongside Jenny and Jill, slipping plastic dust covers onto rarer books or replenishing the shelves with overstock. It was pure pleasure to be up there, watching Jenny and Jill and the customers. The store itself was then and is now a beautiful place, done in dark wood and illuminated softly by green-shaded banker’s lamps that I have coveted since I was a small child.

On the exterior, Three Lives and Company resembles a shop one might have seen on a London street in the 1920’s – or so I imagine – but is not so much a period leftover as a perennial mainstay.

While my time there was brief, as I was packed off to summer camp that summer, my Three Lives days are some of my fondest. Working there instilled in me a deep sense of commitment to independent bookstores, to their spirit, to their aesthetics, and to their championing of the literary experience. Passing in on my way through the Village, no matter how late I am to wherever I am going, I always must stop, peer in the window, and remember.

ROSA JURJEVICS is a writer, video editor, blogger, and cat wrangler. By day, she produces videos for a children’s publishing company; by night, she scribbles stories, often with a fountain pen. Her blog, Type Faster, lives here.

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: An Invitation To Lose Yourself by Brooke (Books Distilled)

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Brooke from Books Distilled, who takes a walk down memory lane as she reminisces about some of her favorite indies in the DC area.

An Invitation to Lose Yourself:  Indie Bookstores

I lived in DC for two years after college, and I loved it.  The zoo was free (I love zoos); there were great bars and restaurants; there were tons of free museums, and I worked close enough to the White House that I’d eat lunch in Lafayette Park during spring and summer, ignoring the perpetual string of protesters. 

But let’s talk about the indie bookstores.  While I love all bookstores, simply because I can run my hands over books I’ve loved and pick up books that might change my life once I read them, independent bookstores have a special place in my heart.  They’re so easy to get lost in.

I often walked several blocks down 13th Street from my Columbia Heights apartment to grab a cup of coffee at Busboys and Poets (named for Langston Hughes) and browse their small bookstore.  It may be small, but it has a plethora of great titles you’d never see featured in Barnes & Noble.  I loved that it had such a huge Spanish section, and even though I barely speak Spanish I’d pick up a book every time and see how much of the first page I could decipher. 

An even further walk in the other direction led me to Red Onion.  A one-room  bookstore at the bottom of 18th Street in Adams Morgan, Red Onion is run by a guy who gives out free cake on the store’s anniversary if you’re lucky enough to remember when that is.  They also sell used records (actual records! When was the last time you saw one of those?) and CDs.  If you’re a music buff, they’re apparently a big deal; but I’m a literary faithful and only had eyes for the books.  I bought some great ones there, most memorably Marisa de los Santos’s addictive novel Love Walked In.

 

The most famous indie bookstore in DC is, of course, Politics and Prose.  If you live in the area, they have a great email newsletter about upcoming author readings and other fun events.  I could never get up there for any of those, which were often on week nights, but I’d drive up on a Saturday afternoon, pick three or four books off the shelves, and read a few pages of each.  Then I’d buy one and sit in the café and read and read.  At the time, my husband and I were dating long-distance.  When he’d leave after a weekend visit to drive back to North Carolina, I’d often go to Politics & Prose to drown my sorrow in books.

 

But my favorite indie bookstore in DC is Capitol Hill Books, a used bookstore in Eastern Market.  It’s completely enchanting.  There are books everywhere.  They are piled up to the ceiling on a shelf along the staircase, which is so narrow that only one person can go up or down at a time.  There are hand-written notecards placed along the stacks directing you to specific authors with a large volume of work, with tags such as “Austen over derr” or “Look up for Dickens.”   In short, magical.

If you leave the store without buying anything, the owner will look at you, shake his head and say, “All those books, and not one for you?  What a lousy store.”  It’s a pretty effective marketing technique.

One day when I was working unsuccessfully on my novel, I decided I wanted to buy Anne Lamott’s book on writing, Bird by Bird.  I’d borrowed it from a friend the first time I read it, but decided I needed to own it.  So I took the metro out to Eastern Market and hunted through Capitol Hill Books.  It wasn’t under Lamott’s name; it wasn’t in the nonfiction section.  I was waiting in line to ask the owner if he had it when my gaze traveled upward and landed on a hardcover copy of the very book for which I was searching, perched precariously on top of a high shelf.  I found a stepstool and got it down and took it to the counter, thrilled with my discovery.

The owner rang it up.  “Thirty,” he said.

I gaped.  His used books are usually under ten dollars.  “Are you kidding?”

He looked offended.  “No.  It’s autographed.”  And he showed me the flyleaf, where Anne Lamott’s scrawling signature sat inoffensively, marking the book up to three times its value.  I grudgingly handed over my credit card, breaking my book budget for the month (my rent was expensive).  But I went home and read Bird by Bird and laughed at Anne Lamott.  I treasure the book even more now because it has her autograph.

Check out IndieBound for the nearest indie bookstore and get lost in the stacks! 

 

Brooke Law writes at Books Distilled, where she recently launched an online book club.  She currently lives in Long Island, where the nearest decent indie bookstore is a forty-minute drive.  Follow her on Twitter.

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

#IndieThursday Guest Post: Independent Booksellers Can Save Your Life By Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Lauren Baratz-Logstead to kick off this new series.

 

INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE

 

By Lauren Baratz-Logsted

For the better part of 11 years, from 1983-1994, I was a buyer and bookseller for the late great independent Klein’s of Westport. One day a woman came in with dark glasses on, tears snaking out from underneath. “I need a book,” she said to me, desperation in her voice. “Just give me something to read.”

Now, like all good independent booksellers, I was used to customers coming in looking for advice; and like them, I had stock questions to ask in such situations, so as to avoid wasting my time and theirs by barking up the wrong literary tree. Some sample questions: “Who are some of your favorite authors?” “What kind of books does your friend usually like to read?” “What’s the last book your son loved?” Obviously, though, this woman was in no state of mind to be taking a quiz.

That left me with my next option. Every good independent bookseller also commits to memory titles that almost anyone should love provided: a) the person is reasonably intelligent; and b) loves to read. Some of my favorite safe-bet go-to books at the time were Body and Soul by Frank Conroy, Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price, and The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. But these did not seem like good books to give to this woman because all contain at least some very dark themes and plotlines, and she was clearly close enough to the edge already.

Then inspiration struck and I led her to the paperback section of the store, the B section specifically, hoping against hope we’d have what I was looking for. And there it was: one copy of Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. I pulled it from the shelf, placed it in her hands.

“Here,” I said.

She looked down at the cover with its red border and Americana artwork. “OK,” was all she said.

Then she followed me back to the front desk, paid and was gone.

About a week later, I was working in the stacks when the woman came back, this time without the sunglasses.

“You saved my life,” she said simply.

I was taken aback by this, to say the least. I’d done a lot of things as an independent bookseller but I’d never saved a life. That was the province of firemen and surgeons and EMTs. Me, I’m the last person you want around during a medical emergency.

Then she proceeded to tell me what had been going on in her life prior to her first setting foot in my store with her request, “Just give me something to read.” I don’t need to get into all the gory details here. Suffice it to say, with apologizes for the coming cliché, that her life had become a perfect storm of awfulness; really, any one bad thing that had happened to her would have been enough to knock most people for a loop. But all that awfulness at once?

And that’s when it hit me, what she’d meant: I had saved her life. And you know what else I realized? Independent booksellers save lives every day. They save people’s sanity. They save people’s sense of equilibrium. They put books into people’s hands that provide information or perspective or escape, as needed. Whether wittingly or not – and my guess would be that most do not know quite the extent of their own power for good – they save lives.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 20 books for adults, teens and children. While she’s never saved another life with a book before – at least not to her knowledge – she’s received countless emails from kids, parents, grandparents and even teachers, all basically saying, “X Child did not like to read before discovering The Sisters 8,” a series for young readers. Her next YA book will be Little Women and Me in November. You can read more about her life and work at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.