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Monday, July 25, 2011

Intersection of Writing and Selling

The other day I praised certain online booksellers, a major benefit to those living abroad. Today I'd like to highlight the inimitable role of the small independent bookseller in the community--in particular, the independent booksellers whose interest in literature is so deep that they actually write books as well as sell them, or perhaps I should say they sell books as well as write them, since the writing came first in these cases.

Recently, the Huffington Post has run an article about writers who own bookstores. Specifically they discuss Ann Patchett's plan to open an independent bookstore in her city of Nashville at the same time that the chain of Borders is closing.

Patchett is frustrated at living in a city without a bookstore for first-run books, so she and business partner Karen Hayes have decided to take on the task of providing one themselves. While Patchett needs the bookstore to become self-supporting, she plans to treat is as a non-profit in the way that she makes decisions. That is, she hopes to reflect a social consciousness in what she is able to offer to customers and to the community. This includes the intention to hire well-informed book-loving employees who can favor customers with suggestions and opinions about what's on the market, one way she can differentiate her store from the online vendors.

Other bookstore-owning authors mentioned in the article include Garrison Keillor, Larry McMurtry, and Louise Erdrich. Erdrich's  niche in particular is discussed in the article. Her store is made from  reclaimed materials, and her stock focuses on Native American literature, reflecting the values and personality of the owner.

What greater commitment can a writer show to her community and to her craft than by investing in the small indepent bookstore. Bravo for these writers. (And where do they find the time to do both, I wonder....)

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