As some of you know, I was recently in Northern California as part of my paperback book tour for Palace of Illusions. I didn't have much time between an afternoon event at Authors on Google and a reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz (a great, rambling independent store I want to just live in every time I visit it). But I made it a point to stop by at some of my favorite independent bookstores along the way, such as Keplers in Menlo Park, Books Inc. in Mountain View and Capitola Book Cafe, to sign books and say hello to the booksellers.
The atmosphere in each indie bookstore I've been in is unique and inviting in a special way. There are nooks to sit in and read, sometimes a cafe for a snack (Capitola Book Cafe has great sandwiches and quiches--I know, because I ate dinner there that night!) but most of all, dedicated, intelligent and well read booksellers who always have time to talk to you and recommend books. These people are there, sometimes battling economic odds, because of their love for books. They are the ones who often "discover" books by new, unknown writers and enthusiastically handsell them. That was certainly the case with my first book of stories, Arranged Marriage, which would have never made it onto the SF Chronicle bestseller list--and thus onto the radar of award committees--without their passionate support.
What was so heartwarming was that these booksellers remembered me even though I'd moved to Texas years ago. They'd say things like, "I remember every event you've done here--and I've been at all of them," or "I remember when you used to come in and ask for book recommendations, even before your first book was published."
In this day of shifting allegiances and relationships that are blurry with speed, that counts for a lot.
We're blessed here in Houston with 2 great independents: Brazos Books and Blue Willow Bookshop. They bring in the best authors from all over the country. I've read at both & I'm looking forward to doing an event at Blue Willow on March 30--so come if you're in the area.
Folks, I urge you to support your independent bookstore, if you're lucky enough to have one where you live. They are truly our national treasures--and an endangered species.
If you have a favorite bookstore, or a bookstore story, do write in and let us know.