Sherman Alexie, who inspired the launch of Indies First on Small Business Saturday (November 30) by challenging other authors to work as booksellers that day and put indies first, tried to come up with a term for crowded bookstores like the five Seattle-area ones he visited on Saturday. “What do ya call a large crowd at a bookstore? A herd? A swarm? An encyclopedia of nerds?” he tweeted. There was an equal herd, swarm, or encyclopedia of authors at 400 stores across the country. More than one thousand participated in the first Indies First, which got off to a strong start—and not just at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and his daughters shopped for about 30 minutes Saturday during the noon hour.
“[Authors] talked with customers about some of their favorite books, and sold a bunch, helping make it a record day,” Kerri Slattery, owner and manager of Skylight Books in Los Angeles posted on the Indies First Facebook page. Some authors had a little help, like YA writer A.S. King (Reality Boy) whose daughters assisted with making book recommendations at Aaron’s Books in Lititz, Pa. Many shifts stretched well beyond an hour or two as authors like Anita Silvey (Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac) got into the spirit of the day. The hardest part, Silvey told PW, was familiarizing herself with where the books she wanted to recommend were shelved at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass.
“We are so grateful to be part of a community that loves books and loves shopping local,” wrote Curious Iguana, a book and gift store in Frederick, Md., on Facebook. Ephemera author Bruce R. Gourley was a bookseller for the day, and Cubs the Poet wrote poems for customers. “Having a blast today with all the authors who are here for Indies First,” posted BookPeople in Austin, which had eight authors/handsellers starting at 11 a.m.