Surviving In The Book Business: An Authors Fair

As the digital revolution makes inroads into traditional publishing based in paper, bookstores are not having a notably good century so far. Hardly a week goes by without news of a large or small bookstore, including those owned by chains, going out of business somewhere in the US. Yakima, Bookstore Going OutWashington, the longest running of the Ramseys’ many hometowns, has an independent bookstore that does well because this reading community supports it. That is in no small part because Inklings Bookshop (pictured below) stays keyed into the town and the region, with a flair for promotion and special events. One of Inklings’ biggest book soirees takes place tomorrow. The store is bringing together 12Inklings authors to talk about and sign their books. I’ll be signing copies of Poodie James. The book fair will be near the store in the building of a former library branch that expanded to bigger quarters; I told you, folks around here read a lot. The place is empty now, so they suggested that each of us bring a table, a chair, a poster and cookies to offer browsers. Here’s a link to a story about the event that includes word sketches of the authors. The article is by Pat Muir, who edits the weekly entertainment supplement of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

If you’re going to be in the area, come early and maybe you’ll be in time to get a cookie. If your plans don’t include being in the Pacific Northwest and you wish to know about my books, click on “Purchase Doug’s Books” at the top of the page.

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  1. Mark Mohr says

    Just read your post “Surviving in the Book Business: An Authors Fair” with great interest. Books and independent bookstores are near and dear to my heart because of my late parents’ unique and groundbreaking rare book search service, “International Bookfinders.” In the pre-fax, pre-email, pre-internet days, their company’s advertising slogan “You name it, We find it” was practically a guarantee of finding the right book for the right price. Some of your readers might find their story an interesting one. I’ve written up a short bio and Greg Kindall, the host of the “Seven Roads” website was nice enough to put it up online. (Feel free to explore the rest of his fascinating website. Bibliophiles will find lots of interesting ephemera there, as well as a really cool feature on old book trade labels.)

    Here’s the link:

  2. Don Conner says

    I share your feelings about the plight of the book business in this country, knowing that the instrument I’m typing on has been a major contributor to said plight. Here in my neck of the woods (i’m about 45 minutes from Portland, Me. and an hour and a-half from Boston), Portland has a store called Book-A-Million that has moved into the premises formerly housing Borders’s late, and very much missed, book & music store. There’s not much else, particularly vapid old Boston’s jazz “scene.” Oh well – live and let die- seems the ongoing credo! Enjoyed the Sinatra & Novak video.

  3. Terence Smith says

    “Inklings” is a great name for a bookstore and for the supporters thereof.
    There’s a place for the electronic store and book. But not to replace
    ink, Gutenberg, and those who have an inkling of the magic of turning a page of narrative.

    Somewhere Tolkien’s little group is still smiling. And G.K. Chesterton’s words are wiser than ever:

    “Literature is a luxury. Fiction is a necessity.”

  4. Jim Brown says

    A brick and mortar store is useful to me if it supports me, and I do my best to support those that do. I won’t look at a product in a local store and buy it online — if they have it, they get the sale. With books, support means introducing me to new things, or older things I”ve missed. Santa Cruz, CA, my adopted home, has two large book stores, both of them independent.

    Bookstore #1 sells mostly new books, but has an active used book section, which I browse every time I pass by, typically every week or so, and I rarely leave without a book or two, or three, mostly fiction. But their selection of ANY books about jazz is paltry (three books on a good day, rarely of interest), and I rarely see a book of any sort there that I didn’t already know about. “We can order it,” they say, when I ask about something I’ve heard about. My response — why weren’t you paying attention to the new stuff and telling me about it? When you do that, I’ll buy from you. When you fail, the internet is a click away.”

    Bookstore #2 deals with used books and closeouts, and it’s huge. The jazz section is extensive, nearly 20 linear feet of shelf space with a broad selection of used books, closeouts, and author review copies, and I browse it regularly as well. I nearly always find something to take home. Recent additions include bios or autobios of Horace Silver, Red Calendar, Thelonious Monk (bought to replace the copy I gave to a musician friend on the road), Django Reinhardt, and Scott LaFaro, a memoir by Norwegian jazz writer/critic/supporter Randi Hultin, and the jazz writings of Ralph Ellison, Bookstores like this get my biz. But when a bookstore responds to a “Doug’s Pick” with a blank stare and “we can order it,” the internet gets the order. Bookstore #1, while trumpeting its independence and hitting me with a guilt trip about supporting indepedent local businesses, told me that they couldn’t afford to deal with independent publishers! Huh?