What I did this summer

I recently returned from my cross-country indie bookstore tour. In case you missed my Facebook posts about the trip—and so I can remember everything myself!—I’ve created this wrapup.

The tour coincided with the release of Tiny Shoes Dancing and Other Stories, but it wasn’t exactly a book launch tour. Because a small indie publisher is not going to send its authors across the country, let alone entice bookstores in other cities to host its authors, I decided to take a different approach.

I sought out independent bookstores along the route, dropped in, introduced myself, and learned more about the store’s focus and specialty. I planned my visits using an interactive indie bookstore map from Indies First.

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I found an incredible diversity of stores, from tiny to gargantuan, selling new books, used books, and bargain books.

And I discovered

People still read! Almost everywhere I went, patrons browsed and purchased. The bookstore websites boasted calendars crammed with events, from author readings to book group gatherings to poetry slams.

Books and drink go together. Bookstore/café combos are pretty common. I also discovered several bookstore/bar combos. Combining cafés or bars with books seems brilliant.

Reading series are thriving. I first became aware of the idea of a reading series when I started attending Why There Are Words, which originated in Sausalito and is now at locales across the country. (My cross-country tour included readings at several WTAW locations and I’ll be reading at another Bay Area series in October, Story is the Thing.) BookBar Denver hosts At the Inkwell and Spotty Dog and Ale in Hudson, NY hosts the Volume reading series.

Now that I’m back in the San Francisco bay area, I plan to continue the tour, highlighting some of the local indie stores where bookselling and book culture thrive. You can hear more about that as it unfolds by following my author page on Facebook.

For me, this was a journey of discovery and connection. I hope a bit of that comes across here for you.

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Above are staff pick shelves from several of the stores. Below are links to each of the seventeen stores I visited. I’ve also included links, when available, to the authors I met along the way.

Bookstores I visited

The Printed Garden – Sandy, UT
The Bookworm of Edwards – Edwards, CO
Boulder Bookstore – Boulder, CO
Trident Booksellers and Café  – Boulder, CO
Tattered Cover Bookstore – Denver, CO
BookBar – Denver, CO
The Raven Bookstore – Lawrence, KS
Left Bank Books – St. Louis, MO
Indy Reads Books – Indianapolis, IN
Gramercy Books  – Bexley, OH
White Whale Bookstore – Pittsburgh, PA
Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza – Albany, NY
Spotty Dog Books and Ale – Hudson, NY
Rodgers Book Barn – Hillsdale, NY
Oblong books – Millerton, NY
The Bookstore – Lenox, MA
[Words] Bookstore – Maplewood, NJ

Authors I met

At BookBar Denver (At the Inkwell Reading Series)

Tara Campbell
Kathy Fish
Nancy Stohlman
Brian Seemann
David S. Atkinson

At WTAW Pittsburgh (Why There Are Words Reading Series)

Sharon McDermott
Leslie Anne Mcilroy

At Spotty Dog Books and Ale (Volume Reading Series)

Kristi Coulter
Lynne Tillman
Caroline Crumpacker

At WTAW NYC (Why There Are Words Reading Series)

Ama Codjoe
Elisabeth Frost
Silvina López Medin
Glynn Pogue
Alexis Quinlan

Reminder: Tiny Shoes Dancing is available in indie bookstores

As a reminder, you can order Tiny Shoes Dancing and my novel What Remains Unsaid from any independent bookstore. Order online through Indiebound or ask the store to order for you!


9 thoughts on “What I did this summer

Add yours

  1. KITTY! And books! Yay!

    Dropped in from Susie’s party and delighted to see that so many indie bookstores are still running. With the consumption of so many books in digital form these days (guilty!), I’m amazed that even chain stores are still operating–especially in struggling spaces like my local mall. But I’m sure cafes help those as much as they help indies, too. (My area just got its first “real” Starbucks after opening in Barnes & Noble and Kroger first, does that tell you anything?)

    The indie in my town closed several years ago, but the owner bought out the equipment from a defunct coffee shop across the street. I admit I got more drinks from her than I did books, but money is money! (*chuckle*)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cats, books, coffee… somehow these things seem to go together!

      I think many bookstores are shifting their focus to becoming community gathering places centered around reading/arts/performance, which helps them draw more customers and fill a reader need that’s not served by sitting alone in your house with your iPad or Kindle. I have high hopes that this will continue!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish we could have a cat! The Board of Health says no because we have food & drinks. I’m going to assume lots of stores have that same issue. Thanks for visiting us!!


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