My book trailer is finally finished!

 

I recently contributed an article entitled Occupy Manhattan Storefronts to New York public TV station WNET’s online magazine, Metro Focus. The indie business situation in New York is changing rapidly, and a new report from Center for an Urban Future reveals that the tide is actually turning in our direction, for a surprising reason. Rents have gotten so high that chainstores are retrenching, and I describe the way some indie booksellers are deploying their uniqueness to raise money directly from neighbors, many of whom wish to ensure that unusual local businesses stay in business.

 

Bookstore Pop-ups, Hybrids, and Rebels: Why Indie booksellers are leading the movement to support and foster local businesses — A panel discussion with maverick booksellers David Kipen, Andrew Laties, and Josh Spencer on why there is no better time to be in the book business.

….This fun hour-long September 11, 2011 event at Skylight Books in Los Angeles can now be heard online (click here).


 

I met AK Press and PM Press co-founder Ramsey Kanaan when he stopped by the Vox Pop booth at the 2005 BEA convention and said he’d read the advance review copy of Rebel Bookseller while riding his exercycle. A few weeks later he wrote a fabulous book review on the AK Press Distribution website. So I was excited a few weeks ago to learn that Ramsey is a host on the show Against The Grain, produced by Pacifica Radio affiliate KPFA in Berkeley, and that he wanted to do an hour-long interview with me.

Here it is! Ramsey really goaded me on, adopting a kind of world-weary, pessimistic stance and insisting that the book industry is in a “parlous state”. He positioned me as Mr. Optimist and I think in the interview that I lived up to his concept of me. I love that he gave me the chance to do the “Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong” thing.

 

 

Back in early 90s Chicago, I hosted some author events in The Children’s Bookstore and at Printers Row Bookfair to promote the outstanding “Ancient and Living Cultures” educational activity books, written by Mira Bartok and Christine Ronan. I loved the events they created: kids could punch out multicultural design stencils and create cool artworks they’d take home.

In 1996, after closing The Children’s Bookstore, I lost touch with Mira.

In 2002, I moved to Amherst, Massachusetts to launch The Eric Carle Museum Bookshop.  A few years after THAT, I was very surprised to recognize Mira Bartok browsing in the store. She was doing a masters in writing at University of Massachusetts.

Mira put me on the mailing list for her Mira’s List blog, devoted to alerting artists of grant and residency opportunities–a subject about which she had developed encyclopedic knowledge. I loved reading the blogposts, which suggested that I travel to other countries and make art.  What a fabulous fantasy! And to think that some people were really doing it! I gradually came to realize that Mira herself had been doing exactly this.

Who was this woman? Evidently I didn’t know Mira very well.

While finishing her Masters in writing at University of Massachusetts, Mira was writing what emerged as an astonishing book drawn from her life, The Memory Palace. The book was released recently. It’s very intimate and powerful–and has rapidly reached a wide readership.

Somehow, amid all her book-touring, Mira has found time to continue blogging on Mira’s List, and a few months ago she told me she’d like to feature Rebel Bookseller there, by conducting an author interview with me.

I fear that I may have been a over-aggressive in some of my responses…but, then, I am on a mission.

 

Tomorrow I’ll be appearing at Village Books, in Bellingham, Washington. I’ll be part of a panel discussion with Village Books owner, Chuck Robinson, Book Fare Cafe owner, Charles Claassen, and Derek Long, Executive Director of Sustainable Connections. Here’s the guest blogpost I wrote for the occasion, entitled “A Houseful of Books.

 

Click this link to hear my fun interview with Michael Ray Dresser yesterday evening. We discussed e-books, print-on-demand, bookseller education, the buy-local movement, and the rise/fall/rise of indie bookselling over the past 30 years.

…… “Michael Ray’s show has evolved over the years into an entertaining and thought-provoking something for everyone, featuring daily guests from all over the country and covering such topics as health and fitness, diet and nutrition, parenting, education, social networking, travel, business and finances as well as political and historical perspectives.  On his talk radio show, Michael Ray is well known for getting to the heart of the issue at hand as well as entering the realm of possibility.”

 

 

Handmade bookmark by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord!

“I met Andrew Laties several years ago at a meeting of the Independent Publishers of New England. We found that we had a common interest in book arts (unusual among publishers who are book lovers but not necessarily knowledgeable about artists’ books) and had a great conversation. I intended to buy a copy of his Rebel Bookseller but didn’t do it immediately and then it faded from my mind. Last week’s Boston Sunday Globe had an interview with him in connection with a new edition of the book. This time I went straight to my local independent bookstore….
I have read Rebel Bookseller twice in three days.” [read Susan's entire blogpost]

 

Thanks to Katalina Gutierrez for these two great photos from last Friday night’s program at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, written up thusly by Ron Hogan of industry newsletter Shelf Awareness:
“Christine Onorati, the owner of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., is tired of hearing about how bookstores are doomed. ‘Half of all restaurants that open close,’ she said during a panel of New York independent booksellers who gathered last Friday at Greenlight Bookstore to celebrate the reissuing of Andrew Laties’s Rebel Bookseller (Seven Stories). ‘But nobody says restaurants are dying. (READ MORE!)‘”

 

Faced with stiff competition and tight credit, Borders corporation has announced total liquidation. Hundreds of towns will lose their Borders bookstores, even though many individual locations were profitable. The sick branches have destroyed the entire tree.

By contrast, exactly the opposite was occurring when in similarly dire competitive circumstances, in the mid-1990s, two thirds of America’s 5,100 independent bookstores closed and indies’ national tradebook market share fell from 35% to 10%. Because failing indie bookstores were not bound financially to successful ones, the American Booksellers Association was able to shed all those members while 1,500 indie bookstores stayed in business. For the next ten years ABA members continued to sell about $1 billion worth of tradebooks every year, jointly controlling about 10% of the tradebook market. For every store we lost in those years, a new one launched.

This is the strength of the small business paradigm: because American Booksellers Association members were never a big business Goliath but rather a team of Davids, when some fell, the survivors could fight on.

Our team’s goal is to act locally as catalysts to build communities by bringing readers and books together, and our economic insulation from one another permits us to jointly fulfill that mission no matter the competitive headwinds from centralized bureaucracies ruling scattered showrooms or Big Brother-like electronic mail-order catalogs incessantly nagging at our email inboxes.

After years refining our techniques, we survivalist indies are in recruiting mode. Join us! What other career offers such a bracing, socially engaged life journey? Independent bookselling can be the profession of choice for a questing generation of innovative freethinkers.

Who really wants to be penned inside Borders?