When you're out and about, shopping, the weekend after Thanksgiving, local bookstores hope you remember that Saturday, Nov. 28, is not just Small Business Saturday--it's Indies First Day. The genesis of Indies First came three years ago, when writer Sherman Alexie called for authors and illustrators to stop by a neighborhood independent bookstore on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and do a little hand-selling: run the till, make recommendations, chat up the customers
The idea was not so much that the authors would be promoting their own books, but they would be promoting books in general, and books sold at independent bookstores in specific.
The idea caught fire, with more than 1,100 writers and artists taking part across the country.
This year's spokesperson for Indies First is Cheryl Strayed, formerly of Minnesota, currently wildly famous, thanks to her best-selling memoir, "Wild," the subsequent movie, and her fun gig as the advice columnist Dear Sugar.
In an open letter, Strayed writes: "There are so many ways that a rich and vibrant network of independent booksellers contribute to the betterment of book culture in America, but perhaps the most important one is the support they give to authors and illustrators by hand-selling their books. I love that term, 'hand-selling.' It reminds us that humans are involved, humans with a passion for language and stories and pictures."
On Nov. 28, Strayed will be selling books at Broadway Books, the Indie in her Portland, Ore., neighborhood.
Here in Minnesota, there will be plenty going on. Benjamin Percy will be at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis' Uptown. (Ask him to sing. Or even just speak. The man has a Voice.)
At the Red Balloon Bookshop on St. Paul's Grand Avenue Brian Farrey, Eleanor Glewwe, Michael Hall, Joseph Kuefler, Diane McMullen, Pat Schmatz, Jane St. Anthony, and Stephanie Watson will be in the store.
Aimee Bissonette will be at Excelsior Bay Bookstore; Richie Swanson, Geoff Herbach, and Faith Sullivan will be at the Bookshelf in Winona; Kristi Belcamino and Sue Leaf will be at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater; and what the hey, Duluth Mayor Don Ness will be at the Bookstore at Fitger's up in Duluth. Other bookstores such as Chapter 2 in Hudson, Wis., are still making plans.
You can check out the (growing) list of participating bookstores at the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association site.
Or you can just make sure to include a bookstore in your shopping plans. Which seems a given, doesn't it?