#WeLoveBookstores, a slate of virtual literary events to support Bay Area independent bookstores during the Covid-19 crisis, will kick off April 8. The series will livestream on Zoom every Wednesday at 12 p.m. Pacific time, with each event supporting a single Bay Area bookstore. Virtual attendees can buy tickets on Eventbrite (paying anywhere from $0 to $100), with all proceeds going directly to a chosen bookstore.
The series will begin with a conversation and q&a session between married novelists Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman to benefit Berkeley’s Pegasus Books. “The economy is not looking good for any of us. Stores need to pay rent, need to pay their employees, need to pay their invoices,” said series cofounder and author Maggie Tokuda-Hall. “But for all of us putting this event together, indie bookstores are our lane. They're the thing we love, they're our world. So we're going to do whatever we can to lend them a hand right now.”
Future installments will include Carl Zimmer and Apoorva Mandavilli on April 15, raising funds for Green Apple Books; Andrew Sean Greer and Miah Jeffra on April 22, in support of Alley Cat Books; and Myriam Gurba and Juliana Delgado Lopera raising funds for Dog-Eared Books.
Cofounders Tokuda-Hall, Charlie Jane Anders, and Jackie Risley had all worked together to create Bookstore & Chocolate Crawl walking tours that covered indie bookstores and sweet shops in the Bay Area. They turned to their literary networks to set up this virtual event series. So far the series already has 25 confirmed authors. “They were all really quick to name the indies they'd most like to support. It has been really heartening,” said Tokuda-Hall, adding that the organizers have already contacted 15 bookstores.
“It’s a completely reimagined way of interacting with people,” said Juliana Delgado Lopera, an artist and author who had to postpone a number of events for their debut novel, Fiebre Tropical, when the Covid-19 crisis began. “There are only so many things we can control right now. We can’t see each other, we can’t hug each other, but we can do this.”
Lopera has found new opportunities with livestreaming events, reading from their novel during a “Shelter in Place with Grace” streaming event recently, an evening of drag performances on Facebook Live hosted by Grace Powers. All the performers included links to the money-sharing site Venmo, and Lopera earned $150 in support from the event. With the help of their girlfriend, Lopera turned their living room into a simple stage for the performance.
The #WeLoveBookstores author series will also feature a weekly Friday reading with children’s authors called “Parent Relief.” Katherine Applegate, author of the Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan, will kick off the series April 17. Her reading will benefit Corte Madera’s Book Passage, an indie shop with 40 years of history in the Bay Area. “Like most children’s authors, I have a lot of experience connecting with schools via Skype or Google Hangouts,” Applegate said. “So joining in a digital event like #WeLoveBookstores seemed like a no-brainer. We’re all looking for innovative ways to keep our beloved indies afloat during these tough times.”