Monday, March 9, 2009

"God Bless the Independent Bookseller


Last Friday my wife and I drove to Topsail Island, North Carolina where I took part in a “moveable feast” authors luncheon. This event was sponsored by Quarter Moon Books. As part of the inducement to come to participate we were given a two night stay at “The Pink Palace” which is a bed and breakfast located right on the waterfront. Can you picture a scene right out of “Nights In Rodanthe”?

Lori Westervelt, a dead ringer for Jessica Lange, owns and operates Quarter Moon Books on Topsail Island. She came up with the idea of this authors event and has been doing it for four or five years. I don’t know about the other years but this year she had it down to a smooth, streamlined operation.

There are only sixty tickets sold for the luncheon. Ten people each sit at six tables along with one invited author. The authors, who have eaten earlier, rotate every ten to twelve minutes, After the authors have spoken at each table they move to signing tables where people can purchase their books.

The tickets to this event do not last very long. They are grabbed up as soon as they go on sale. Lori’s customers get first crack at them before they are offered to the general public. I was told that people as far away as Raleigh are now trying to get on the list for tickets.

This year the authors were Karen White, Susan Crandall, Nicole Seitz, Kathryn Wall, local author Richard Satterlie and I (me, myself?). The attendees asked intelligent questions and I hope we all gave intelligent answers. Most wanted to know how we got our books published along with what they were about.

All of the authors had a wonderful time and we did sell some books for Lori, which is as it should be. She had put a lot of time and effort into this event. She also has the support of the community and the “guest rooms” where the authors stayed were donated.

Independent bookstores are not having an easy time of it these days. Many around the country have closed their doors. In order to stay viable the owners of these stores have to become inventive in their ways of selling books. Plus their staff has to be personable and friendly and has to know books.

For authors, the reason we love independent bookstores so much is that they hand sell books. If they get behind a book they can win you over a ton of readers. They have their customers trust and that is an invaluable tool.

This “moveable feast” was a genius idea on Lori’s part. It gave the authors exposure and it gave the attendees a chance to go one on one with the writers. And while they were there they had the opportunity to buy some books and get them personally signed. It was win/win all the way.

Lori Westervelt is a thinker. She knew she had to do more than just open the doors to her bookstore. As they say in the play “Gypsy” she had to have a gimmick. “The “moveable feast” is her gimmick and it is a good one.

If you ever have the chance to attend this event you should do so. You will have great food, great company, and a weekend vacation at the beach. I loved it all!

JKC

Jackie K Cooper is the author of five books about living in the South. His latest is THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS.

1 comment:

Charmi Schroeder said...

Sounds like a unique, fabulous event. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I hope that one of our indies in this area picks up on this idea. I would be first in line to purchase a ticket!