Book City is thrilled to again host the visits of authors to each of our four stores. Last year, we shared the day with over sixty authors, and this year, the number of authors participating in Authors For Indies is even greater.
The day has been fun to organize and has given us the opportunity to learn more about our favourite writers (and their reading habits, as we’ve asked them for their ‘desert island’ reads, a few books that they simply can’t live without, to hand sell to ‘their’ customers on event day). It’s been so easy to ask for their participation, as many of our visiting authors are Book City customers; some are even our coworkers.
That’s why it’s important to not only have the support of authors, it’s important to support them. We (indies) are better versed in the landscape of Canadian publishing, we know the voices of small publishers and longtime and emerging writers, we hand sell the books we love, not just the books that pay the rent. We believe in the power of storytelling and the words of our authors. Eric Fan says “the independent stores were some of the first people to support our book (The Night Gardener) and champion it. As first-time authors/illustrators [along with his brother, Terry], that was pretty significant.”
Kevin Sylvester, author of the Neil Flambé middle grade series, agrees. “One of the reasons I love indies so much is that indie booksellers READ MY BOOKS. They understand that the kid who comes through the door might be better served with a mystery series about a teen chef (hypothetically speaking) instead of [something else]. The booksellers (and I would add, the librarians) are the ones who look for new authors, and also know that a mosaic of thoughts, stories, points of view and so on, make the reader a better thinker and the world a better place.”
It can be a real challenge, as we all know, to drive sales away from the internet and anonymous, Big Box retailers. Taking a little time to make a real connection with a reader, rather than relying on an algorithm, is rewarding. Terry Fan says, ”There’s just something wonderful about browsing through a charming bookstore and interacting with a community of book lovers. There seems to be a relentless push for bigger everything, which is very alienating because it’s not on a human scale anymore.”
Book City has the distinction of being one of the first bookstores to carry a book entitled Best Laid Plans by a self-published, first-time author named Terry Fallis and we have enjoyed a longstanding and richly rewarding relationship with him since. He says, “It's always disappointing to be invited to give an author talk somewhere and not be able to arrange for an independent bookstore in the area to come to sell your books. To be clear, this only ever happens when there isn't an indie within a reasonable driving distance. I'm not kidding. In fact, in eight years and nearly 700 talks, the local independent bookstore, when there's one in the region, has never let me down. Not once. The funny thing is, they always thank me for asking them to sell books. But I always feel I'm the grateful one that they have made the effort to lug four or five boxes of books, my backlist too, to a local community centre at 10:00 on a Monday morning for a Lion's Club gathering. But I guess that's the nature of symbiotic relationships. It's in our shared interest to sell as many books as possible. I think of the indies, clear across the country, as my partner in my writing life. Without their support, well, I don't even want to think about that."
In 1976, Book City opened its doors to the people of Toronto. Toronto bibliophiles must have liked us, or our books at any rate, because forty years on, we have four stores across the city.
Book City was founded by and is still operated by a family with four generations in the book business. Perhaps it is why we at Book City stick to a more traditional method of book selling; we jam our bookshelves full of new and backlist titles, stack our tables high with bargains, and staff our stores with people who love reading as much as our customers do.
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