To promote New England authors and independent bookstores, NEBA is launching Read Around New England (also called Read Around New York when encouraging New York bookstores to participate) during the height of the fall foliage season, October 4—14. Unlike other book festivals, there will be no central location for readings and events. Instead, 75 out of NEBA's 410 members will host mini-celebrations in their stores over the 10-day period.
The idea behind the program, according to Read Around New England chair Donna Urey, owner of the 10-year-old White Birch Books in North Conway Village, N.H., and past president of NEBA, "is to call attention to the sorts of things that independent bookstores do. We're trying to demonstrate to publishers that there is bookselling life outside of Boston."
"I'm excited about Read Around New England," NEBA president Linda Ramsdell, owner of Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt., told PW. "Readers will gain a whole new appreciation of the richness and diversity of bookstores in New England, and publishers and authors will enjoy exploring bookstores beyond the boundaries of their accustomed itineraries. It's especially noteworthy that New England author Richard Russo won the Pulitzer Prize [for Empire Falls]. He started out as someone's local author, and then gained a regional following." Another New Englander, David McCullough, won this year's prize for history.
"It's very much a grassroots celebration," explained coordinator Ginie Thorp, former executive director of NCIBA, "and reaction from publishers has been very positive." Although bookstores are responsible for setting up their own events, Thorp is working with publishers to tour as many New England authors as possible. "For stores that need it," added Thorp, "we'll provide mentors and guidelines for requesting authors and putting on events. We will provide posters, bookmarks and press release templates."
Although NEBA is making available marketing tools for the program, it's up to each store to insure that the maximum number of New England writers get the "Read Around" come October.