Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling Portland author (Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Torch and the Brave Enough [on sale October 27]), has been named the 2015 official spokesperson for IndiesFirst by the American Booksellers Association. The first Indies First, in 2013, was launched by Sherman Alexie. The day is a national campaign on Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving: November 28 this year) to promote awareness and support of independent bookstores by enlisting local authors as celebrity booksellers, recommending books as well as signing and meeting fans. Last year’s spokespeople for the event were Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer; Kate DiCamillo was the face of kid-specific Indies First Storytime Day May 2014.
As spokesperson, Strayed wrote a letter to authors and illustrators, inviting them to participate:
“…There are so many ways that a rich and vibrant network of independent booksellers contribute to the betterment of book culture in America, but perhaps the most important one is the support they give to authors and illustrators by handselling their books. I love that term, ‘handselling.’ It reminds us that humans are involved, humans with a passion for language and stories and pictures. Handselling is the bookseller at the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vermont who recently wandered the store with my nine-year-old daughter until they were both satisfied they’d found a small stack of appropriately terrifying page-turners. It’s the artful window displays at Powell’s Books in my hometown of Portland, Oregon that always compel me to learn more about the featured books. It’s the people who put out the folding chairs for my–and your–book events at stores across the land so we can connect with readers face to face. It’s the store employees who place our books prominently on the ‘staff recommended’ shelves that lead us to readers we might have never otherwise found.
“Indies First is a way to say thank you to independent booksellers for all of that. To participate, contact the local independent bookstore of your choosing and make plans about when you’ll be at the store and what exactly they’d like you to do while you’re there. You can also sign up for the author and illustrator registry so booksellers interested in having you in their store for Indies First can contact you. After you’ve made your plans, send a shout out about your participation in Indies First on social media (#IndiesFirst) and post it on your author web site (along with a “buy” link to your local bookseller) so your readers will know where to find you on November 28th.
“I’ll be spending this Indies First the way I spent the first one–at Broadway Books, the beloved independent bookstore I’m fortunate enough to have in my neighborhood. Several of my local author friends and I have made it a tradition to spend a few hours in the store together, sharing book recommendations and signing our books for customers while chatting with the store owners and their staff about the art of selling books. It always feels like a party that’s made even more festive by the knowledge that our colleagues across the nation are doing the same. I hope you’ll be among us this year.”