Indie Booksellers Stand Tall on Small Business Saturday

    Thousands of authors and booksellers working together as part of author Sherman Alexie’s “Indies First” program Independent bookstores will have a large profile all over America on November 30, Small Business Saturday.

    Bolstered by the increased traffic generated by the previous two Small Business Saturdays — the retail day dedicated to “shopping small” — more than 400 indie booksellers nationwide are using that day to host approximately 900 local authors as guest booksellers through a program called Indies First. (Here’s a map of national participation: http://www.indiebound.org/indies-first )

    Indies First, the brainchild of noted author Sherman Alexie, is being coordinated by the American Booksellers Association, the national not-for-profit trade group for independent bookstores.

    Just a little over two months ago, Alexie began the movement for Indies First via an open letter addressed to his fellow authors, in which he asked them to “…. be a superhero for independent bookstores [and] spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local bookstore….” Alexie also urges authors to place an indie bookstore “buy” button on their website, as the first option among all e-retailers. Propelled by the enthusiasm of authors and booksellers—largely through social media—Indies First quickly became a national event with thousands of participating authors and booksellers.

    Bookstores and their authors taking part in Indies First on Small Business Saturday, November 30, can be located on a map on IndieBound.org. In addition to Alexie, who will be handselling in Seattle at The Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, University Bookstore, Queen Anne Book Company, and Secret Garden Books, other participating authors throughout the country include Diana Gabaldon, Richard Russo, Cheryl Strayed, Wally Lamb, Dave Barry, Larry Watson, Jon Scieszka, Laurie Halse Anderson, Daniel Handler, Garth Stein, Maria Semple, Adam Johnson, and many others.

    Indies First has also spread overseas: the writer's and independent bookshop's collective Venezia: City of Readers!, in Venice, Italy, has created its own initiative of handselling local authors, also to take place on November 30, as a “a concrete action to combat the crisis.”

    Small Business Saturday, founded by American Express in 2010, is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It is a day dedicated to helping support the local businesses that help to create jobs, boost the economy, and preserve neighborhoods. Last year, U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reported spending $5.5 billion with independently owned businesses on the day, based on the Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, making a big impact on local communities.

    About the American Booksellers Association (www.BookWeb.org) Founded in 1900, the American Booksellers Association is a not-for-profit trade organization devoted to meeting the needs of its core members—independently owned bookstores with storefront locations—through education, information dissemination, business products and services, and advocacy. ABA exists to protect and promote the interests of independent retail book businesses, as well as to protect the First Amendment rights of every American. The association actively supports free speech, literacy, and programs that support local and independent retail shops. A board of 10 booksellers governs the Association. ABA is headquartered in White Plains, New York.

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