Important Indies First News & Deadlines

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Author Sherman Alexie shows off his new Indies First tote bag.

The Indies First movement reached a major milestone this week with 1,000 authors now signed up to hand-sell books at more than 400 of their favorite independent bookstores on November 30, Small Business Saturday.

Among some of the latest author-bookstore matchups are T.C. Boyle at Granada Books in Santa Barbara, California; Jon Scieszka at The Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York; Peter Brown at Secret Garden Books in Seattle, Washington; Sara Zarr at Weller Book Works in Salt Lake City, Utah; Dave Barry at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; and Wally Lamb at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut.

Author Mardi Jo Link, who will be guest bookselling at Horizon Books and Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan, created a delightful YouTube video in order to express her excitement for Indies First and Small Business Saturday.

For a comprehensive look at participating authors and bookstores, check out the Indies First map.

To help ensure that booksellers and authors are fully prepared for the festivities, ABA has compiled a list of upcoming deadlines, tips and tricks, and news regarding Indies First.

Indies First Tote Bags Make Their Debut

Author Edwidge Danticat with her Indies First tote.

All participating ABA member bookstores will be receiving Indies First tote bags to share with the authors volunteering at their stores. It is hoped that booksellers will snap photos of the authors holding the Indies First totes to use in their own promotional efforts and to share with ABA for its social and traditional media outreach.

Photos should be sent to ABA Marketing Manager Greg Galloway with the subject “Indies First bag photo.” Authors should be asked to sign this downloadable release form, giving permission for photos to be used for marketing and publicity purposes.

Several authors received their Indies First tote bags this week at Miami Book Fair International, including Sherman Alexie and Edwidge Danticat. Stay tuned for upcoming news about Indies First at the fair. 

Matching Assistance and Indies First Map Deadlines Fast Approaching

ABA will continue to help match authors with bookstores until Friday, November 22. Bookstores still looking for a match must contact ABA by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22.

To be added to the interactive Indies First store map on, bookstores should contact ABA Industry Relations Assistant Anne Caldwell prior to November 27. Authors looking to be added to the map should contact their Indies First bookstore.

IndieBound Buy Buttons

In the spirit of Indies First and shopping local, Indies First authors are asked to add a buy button for indie bookstores as the top purchasing option on their websites. Newly designed Indies First buttons are available for use along with other shop local designs and text. Bookstores should also encourage their participating authors to link to their store.

Bookstores Get Creative for Indies First

Malaprop's shows off Thanks for Shopping Indie tees, which it created for Indies First and Small Business Saturday.

Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine, is adapting the Indies First idea and is welcoming interested customers to sign up to work as guest booksellers in the store for an hour on November 30. The store is also offering a 10 percent discount all day on Small Business Saturday.

Book People in Richmond, Virginia, is turning Indies First into a day-long social celebration and will offer snacks and drinks in addition to a throng of authors.  

Riverwalk Books in Chelan, Washington, is inviting local politicians, radio personalities, and school officials to the store to generate excitement for the event and to drum up activity throughout the downtown area.

Powell’s Books, with locations in Portland and Beaverton, Oregon, is creating Indies First lanyards for the authors to wear.

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café has created long-sleeved “Thanks for Shopping Indie” shirts, with white ones for authors and brown ones for staff to wear on November 30.

Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is hosting an Indies First Holiday Book Fair on December 1, with more than 20 local authors appearing in the store that day.

Tips for a Successful Indies First Event

To make Indies First a success, here are some great tips for booksellers:

  • Use name tags to identify authors for customers
  • Have assigned times for the authors to work
  • Have specific activities in mind for the author, like gift wrapping or hand-selling
  • Give Indies First authors a quick tour of the store so they are familiar with the sections (and the restroom location)
  • Have the guest author’s books on display in the front of the store
  • Share a recent Indie Next List or store bestseller list with the author and highlight any titles that the store is enthusiastic about
  • Ask the author about titles — in addition to their own — they would be excited to hand-sell

Indies First Goes International

Not only has Indies First spread overseas to Venice, Italy, but now the excitement has reached Geneva, Switzerland, where OffTheShelf English Bookshop is joining in the festivities and will be hosting American author Anne Korkeakivi on November 30.

Additional Resources

As Indies First approaches, booksellers are reminded of the resources available to help with marketing, publicity, and promotional efforts.

ABA created two press release templates and sample social media posts and tweets that stores can use to begin creating their own publicity outreach.

The Indies First logo, for use in promotional materials, can be found in the Bookseller DIY’s Designs & Downloads.

Bookstores can also follow the trail of excitement for Indies First on Twitter at #IndiesFirst.