By Kevin Guilfoile
Last week, bestselling author Joe Finder sent a proposal over the socialnets.
Joe was asking every person who loves books to buy one from an independent bookstore on Friday, May 1.
Within minutes, hundreds of people had taken the "Buy Indie Day" pledge on Facebook and countless more had made a promise on Twitter and MySpace and personal blogs and wherever people gather.
Good for them.
I have nothing against chain bookstores. Chain bookstores have been very good to Cast of Shadows. There is a chain bookstore four blocks from my house, the only bookstore within miles, and no doubt that location has sold more copies of my novel than any store in the country. I am thrilled that I live in a place where I can walk or ride my bike to buy a book.
But any writer who has been out peddling his work knows--and I think this is especially true in the mystery/suspense community--there is no greater friend than a passionate indie bookseller who loves your novel. They are gasoline on the word-of-mouth fire, and like almost every small business right now, they are hurting.
So I'm going to ask everyone who reads this blog, if you have the time, to go to your favorite indie bookstore on May 1 and make a purchase. (If you don't have a regular indie bookstore, this might help. Or this.)
But I'm also going to ask you to do something else. Because I think with very little effort, we have the opportunity to turn this terrific idea into a terrific event. And all I want is this:
Announce ahead of time where you're going to buy your book.
Sometime before May 1, tell us on Facebook. And on Twitter. And on your blog. (Or on Joe Finder's official Buy Indie Day Facebook event page.) Tell your co-workers. Your friends. Your relatives. Ask them if they want to come with you, even people you only know from the internet. Let's take the solitary act of buying a book and turn it into a social event.
And if you're an author, I'd like you to do that, plus one more tiny thing. It's nothing at all, really.
I want you to tell me.
Leave the particulars in the comments of this post. Or email it to kevin[at]guilfoile[dot]net. Or tweet me, even if that's still not a request I'm entirely comfortable making to anyone but my wife.
And then on Monday, April 27, four days before Buy Indie Day, I'll publish a list here at The Outfit, organized by city, detailing where those writers will be buying books on May 1.
Wouldn't it be cool if, for one day, dozens or even hundreds of writers and readers could meet informally in small groups at bookstores all across the country, not at some signing with a podium and chairs and a reading and a spiel and the expectation that some or all of those gathered will buy the author's novel, but informally, almost by chance, as people sharing their love of books? (Which isn't to say, of course, that if you met up with an author at a bookstore and wanted a copy of his or her book, maybe as a Mother's or Father's Day present, he or she wouldn't be happy to sign it for you.) Maybe writers will also time their trips to the bookstore so they can get together, too. We spend way too much time emailing each other, frankly, and this would be almost as easy.
I'll go first. I will be out buying books at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park, Illinois at Noon on Friday, May 1.
Maybe this won't work at all. Maybe we're all spread too far apart and maybe not enough people care.
But I really don't think that's the case.
There's an opportunity here to make something very cool happen--near simultaneous, informal meet-ups of readers and writers in independent bookstores all over the country--and it can happen with practically no effort at all.
Shoot, that's what the Internet was built for, yeah?