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Support Your Local Independent Bookstore
Reciprocate some community love on Independent Bookstore Day.
As some of you may have figured out from my writings, I’ve long been inclined to root for the underdog.
Sometimes it’s the rock band whose popularity peaked decades ago, and no longer has a major label, but still produces killer music. Sometimes it’s the neighborhood shop or restaurant that doesn’t enjoy franchise support or the help of wealthy investors, but offers unique products, services, or delicious food. Sometimes it’s the local painter or sculptor who creates absolutely beautiful art, but isn’t well-known outside of the region they call home. (I’d tag a sports example on here, but frankly… I don’t watch a lot of sports).
In some ways, I too am an underdog — an indie author published by an indie publisher who’s competing in a book genre against mainstream literary heavyweights like Lee Child, Craig Johnson, and C.J. Box who each command a huge and loyal following of readers. And it’s safe to say that my deeply flawed protagonist, Sean Coleman — a guy who’s not an elite in any field — is also an underdog.
But today I want to talk about a specific type of underdog: local independent bookstores.
I hold a special place in my heart for the people who own and run these businesses, and it’s not just because I’ve gotten know (and like) a number of them through my work as an author. I also admire their strength, fortitude, and passion to compete in an industry now dominated by Amazon and further constrained by the popularity of eBooks and audio books.
In many ways, the evolution of bookselling has forced operators of indie bookstores to become innovators and artists themselves. It’s challenged them to creatively distinguish their businesses from competitors, and expand well beyond that of a traditional retail offering. These days, it’s not uncommon for a bookstore to also serve as a coffee shop, a lounge, or even a bar.
Many bookstores have become community hubs, and host all kinds of local events. My city’s sole bookstore, The Midnight Oil, even collaborates with an indie movie theater across the street to bundle select titles with a monthly book-to-film evening screening. Talk about creative!
It’s a lot of hard work, of course, and the profit margins are often very tight (if they exist at all). There are bookseller associations and organizations like IndieBound that make things easier, but it’s an uphill battle, and I dare say that most indie bookstores give much more back to their communities than they take in.
So, when these stores and their operators are recognized nationally, once a year, on the last Saturday in April, I think it’s especially important for communities to show their support. I’m talking about Independent Bookstore Day, which is coming up this year on April 30.
Many indie bookstores go all out on this day, throwing celebratory events for readers of all ages. Food, live music, author appearances, art tables, contests, special readings, and exclusive releases often fill up the schedule. And it’s a great opportunity for readers to reciprocate the love by purchasing books through them.
Not sure where your local independent bookstores are? IndieBound provides a fantastic tool for identifying them.
In case anyone’s interested, some of my favorite indie bookstores in Colorado are Macdonald Book Shop in Estes Park, BookBar in Denver, and the aforementioned Midnight Oil in Greeley (if you stop in, be sure to tell Manuel I sent you).
And this year, on Independent Bookstore Day, I’ll be part of an author panel at the Words of Windsor bookstore in Windsor. They opened just last year, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the store’s owner, Samantha Webb. I’m very much looking forward to the event, and if you’re going to be in the area that weekend, I’d love it if you’d stop on by.
Have a favorite independent bookstore? Tell me about it in an email or in the comment section below.
A lot of you know that I’m a longtime, regular contributor to journalist Bernard Goldberg’s website. What you may not know is that I’m also pretty involved in the behind the scenes work on Bernie’s premium membership, which people can subscribe to through Substack and Patreon.
The membership has long included weekly columns, audio commentaries, and Q&A sessions. But last week, we added a new feature: a video series called The No BS Zone. It’s hosted by yours truly, and I tee up Bernie to discuss a variety of political, media, and cultural topics. If it sounds interesting to you, you can catch the first episode here.
Obligatory Dog Shot
It's stick season.
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
This baby is hot off the press, and arrived at my house just couple days ago.
Stabbing Westward is my favorite industrial rock band, and “Chasing Ghosts” is their first full-length album in — wait for it — 21 years. To be clear, this wasn’t a case of a couple decades of writer’s block. The band broke up in 2002, and reunited just a few years ago.
As I noted in a previous newsletter, they’ve been releasing EPs over the past couple years with new music, and it’s been great stuff. Chasing Ghosts is, in part, a compilation of those recordings (some songs have been remixed), along with brand new material. It’s also the first time any of the songs have been released on vinyl.
This very limited edition double-album is a great listen, and David Seidman’s cover art is off the charts. I believe the vinyl offering is being sold exclusively through Bandcamp, and there’s just over 100 copies left. So, if it interests you, you’d better jump on it soon.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.
Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!