Friday, May 30, 2014

Let's Hear It for Indie Bookshops!

In the past six weeks, I've done an equal number of readings and signings. I've had the pleasure of meeting dedicated and knowledgeable booksellers and their loyal customers around the Pacific Northwest. I've seen firsthand how independent bookshops play an active and important role in their communities with booksellers offering reading suggestions and readers ordering books not currently on their shelves.

As I drove south on Interstate 5 and crossed the beautiful Narrows Bridge last Saturday on my way to a place called Gig Harbor, I fretted about the event I was headed towards. Who would show up for a signing by an unknown writer on Memorial Day weekend? Who would even stop by a bookshop on Memorial Day weekend? What would I do during the two hours scheduled for the signing?

I worried my way into the scenic harbor village, amazed that in all the years I've lived in Seattle and hiked the surrounding areas, here was movie-set-perfect small town I'd simply passed en route to someplace else without bothering to stop and take a look.

When I arrived at the small shop called Mostly Books, a young bookseller named Natalie Stowell directed me to (free) off-street parking and welcomed me into the shop. By 11:00 a.m., my scheduled start time, we'd already sold two copies of RUNNING SECRETS. 

The stream of customers was steady. Some shoppers came to browse, some stopped in to pick up prior orders, and still others placed orders based on recommendations offered by Natalie and her colleague Judy Park. I enjoyed watching Natalie assist one particular mother and adolescent daughter compile a tall purchase pile as well as a lengthy list of additional orders.

When I mentioned it was my first visit to Gig Harbor and how confusing I find the topography of mainland, islands and waterways in the Pacific Northwest, Natalie led me to a large map  of the region posted on the exterior wall of the shop. Together we traced the route I'd taken from Seattle, and she pointed out I could return home by heading north and taking the Southworth ferry home. I'm certain this helpful friendliness brings residents and tourists alike back to Mostly Books.

Like others, I'll be returning soon. Mostly Books owner, Jo Graffe, invited me to Thursday Night Out, a community event held on the second Thursday of every month. I'll be signing copies of my latest novel, BIKING UPHILL, between 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. on July 10th. But I might just pop out and enjoy the community celebration, too!

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