This week, I’m proud to present a guest post from Katie Renn of Fireside Books, in Palmer, Alaska. The team over at Fireside Books have been amazingly generous over the years I’ve shopped with them, and even more so since I became a published writer. They are the first people I go to when I want to order a book for pickup, and when I am looking to organize a book signing event.
I’m pleased to be teaming up with David, Katie, and the rest of the team for Independent Bookstore Day, on 2nd May 2015. With that in mind, I’ll hand over to Katie, who’s guest post better expresses what the independent bookstore means to people, and the financial strength of the communities they serve.
For the Love of Books
by Katie Renn (of Fireside Books, Palmer, Alaska)
Someone dear to me recently remarked that without books, I wouldn’t be me. I am heavily biased in presenting the merits of books, bookstores, and our own Fireside Books, as love tends to skew objectivity somewhat. I freely admit that my adoration for the printed word borders on indecent and there is little else that can bring me the kind of joy that rivals being surrounded by books. Riffling through a box of used books and picking the ones to keep for the shelf, adding a new favorite to my “recommends” shelf and admiring the way the new addition looks next to the others, soaking in the enthusiasm of a customer who adored a book I thrust in their hands and swore by, giving encouraging support to a nervous writer who is trying to get through their very first book-signing, walking in to find friendly faces, world jazz soaking richly into the background, and the distinctive odor of a large collection of books…. All of these things and more make it easy to want to come to work. The work is hardly easy, but when you really love something, any struggle is full of meaning and purpose.
I challenge my fellow booklovers and beloved community members to indulge themselves and us by taking a few minutes to think about the books that have profoundly impacted their lives; the librarians, teachers, friends, family members, and booksellers who recommended just the right book at just the right time; the bookstore that made them feel at home or full of wonder. Then we invite you to join us on May second in celebrating Independent Bookstore Day. There will be book-related art projects, workshops, story time, contests, advice panels with local authors, and collectable items by writers like Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and Christopher Moore. We will have music by bluegrass singer Anna Lynch and marimba aficionado Meggie Aube. Joining us will be writers Eowyn Ivey, Heather Lende, Jackie Ivie, Deb Vanasse, Kris Farmen and Tim Bateson, among others we are fiercely proud to call our own. It is an opportunity for writers and readers to engage one another and come together with the general purpose of sharing a deep love and devotion of the printed word, free speech, creative expression, and the timeless power of the stories we tell one another.
In addressing the advantages of independent, local business, many of us would not be surprised by the Advocates of Independent Business claim that for every ten million dollars spent, Amazon only employed 14 people, whereas independent enterprises employed 57. Or, out of every hundred dollars invested in stores by their community, chain stores only put $14 back into the local economy, whereas independents return $48. It is not about money, though. We know that much of what independent bookstores offer us is of far greater value. We know that local business owners consider the needs and values of every single customer. The inventory at Fireside is a dynamic, ever-evolving reflection and representation of the owner, the staff, and what we believe our customers want and need based on years of direct communication with the people who come through our door. In this way, the bookstore belongs to us all.
It is likely impossible to measure the impact Fireside Books has had on the Valley over the last decade, although I would imagine it has been significant. The shop has certainly meant something to me – the quirky, brilliant, and kind co-workers, the beloved regulars, the dedicated sales reps, the writers and artists… these people have shown me the best of humanity, and the best in myself.
To join us in celebrating Independent Bookstore Day, send us your stories, loan an amazing book to a friend, or revisit that old favorite story that reminds you why life is beautiful. For more information about the event, drop in, give us a call at 1-(907)-745-BOOK or visit us online: http://www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com. As always, we value your stories, suggestions, and ideas, and would love to hear from you. We can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We hope to see our friends, supporters, and fellow booklovers, as well as some fresh faces at Fireside Books for the much-anticipated Independent Bookstore Day on May 2nd.
Yours in books and warmest thanks.