Tag Archives: independent bookstores

Portrait of a Neighborhood Book Signing

doug - sign outside

Have you ever attended a book signing by a celebrity author at a major bookstore (think Barnes & Noble), the kind where you are required to purchase the book in advance before you can get so much as a glimpse of the man or woman you have come to see? Then you have to wait in a line, sometimes a long line, and when you finally get up to the signing table, the author may be flanked by sharp-eyed assistants who look like Secret Service agents. Their purpose is to keep the masses at arms length, ward off time-consuming chatting, and keep the line moving right along. One of the author’s assistants may ask you for your name, write it down on a piece of paper, and slip it in front of the author who, without even having to look up at you, can scribble your name inside the book (before signing their own) to make it more “personal.” This done, the book is slapped shut and pushed towards you. You snatch it up, and  you’re out of there! Book signing over! It’s all kind of sterile.

A Different Story

But that’s just one kind of book signing. About a month ago I went to a very different kind,  a neighborhood book event at a small independent bookstore,  Chevalier’s Books at 126 N. Larchmont Blvd. in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles (chevaliersbooks.com), the kind of book shop that has been disappearing over the past decade because of big troubles in the publishing industry. But this bookstore still seems to be going strong, and the whole signing event was friendly, warm, and cozy —  with some great cheese.

The author at this particular book signing is a colleague, Douglas Green, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and fellow mental health professional. Lots of his friends and colleagues were there in support of his publication adventure. It was a party atmosphere. Doug’s book, which I’d already read, loved, and had written a blurb for, is called The Teachings of SHIRELLE: Life Lessons From a Divine Knucklehead. It’s a book about a man (Doug) and his dog (Shirelle) and their awesome connection. It’s one of those books that makes readers end up saying, “I laughed; I cried” — and so did I.

Leading up to, and on the night of, the big event at Chevalier’s Books, there was an appealing little chalk-drawn sign outside the front door, inviting people to the “party” — and when you stepped inside you were greeted by a stack of “Shirelle” books but with no pressure to buy before you were allowed to see the author! Doug was right there by the cheese, nervous and happy to see his friends. Finally, it was time for people to find seats and quiet down so Doug could begin.

doug - pile of books

 

The book: “The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead.” (Available on Amazon.com)

doug - crowd

The audience had filled the room. Standing room only in the back. And people kept arriving. At one point Doug looked  up at the big crowd and said, as though in awe at the sight, “Oh, this is what you all look like!

doug - from audience read sign

And we, in the audience, got a hear Doug read some wonderful excerpts from “SHIRELLE” and think, “Oh, this is what Doug looks like doing his book signing.” Everyone was on the same page!

D0UG sideways reading

Some people pulled their chairs up close. Doug had everyone’s attention with his warmth, humor, and delight in his subject matter (“we laughed”); and we felt sadness when, at the end 0f the book, after many wonderful years, Shirelle died (“we cried”).

doug - adding up sales

When it was over, people jumped up, rushed to the counter to buy the book, grab some more cheese and crackers, gab with friends, and form themselves into a very chatty line to have Doug the Author sign his book.

 

doug - doing the signing

Above, Doug is signing, talking, and laughing with relief — he’d gotten through it! A book signing is really a lot of work, but once you’ve been to one like Doug’s, you’ll want one of your very own.

All you have to do is write a fantastic book!

Support your local authors and independent bookstores!

(c) Sylvia Cary; Photos by Sylvia Cary

Field Trip with Nana to The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore. Supercool! Known as the largest (2 floors, vaulted ceiling) independent bookstore in the world. Breathtaking decor; many public events. 453 S.Spring, LA 90013. "As physical bookstores die out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and e-books," the Last Bookstore may end up being just that. There's a back room with 100,000 books for $1 each!). Open daily. (The Last Book Store).

The Last Bookstore. Supercool!  Known as the largest (two floors, vaulted ceiling) independent bookstore in the world. Breathtaking decor; many public events, located in downtown Los Angeles at 453 S.Spring, LA 90013. As it says on their website, “As physical bookstores die out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and E-books,” The Last Bookstore may end up being just that. There’s a back room with 100,000 books for $1 each! Open daily.  — Photos by Sylvia Cary

The Care and Reading of Little Book Buyers

My daughter and her husband have been reading to their two kids, Lily and Lyle, my grandchildren, since they were six months old, maybe younger. No surprise that they love books. Each has a bookcase jammed packed with them. So when I decided to take Lyle on a field trip with Nana to downtown LA to visit The Last Bookstore, I asked him to pick out 10 books he was no longer into because The Last Bookstore not only sells books, they buy them.

Lyle proudly shows receipt for selling three of his own books to The Last Bookstore -- and he then turned right around and bought $3 worth of new books!

Lyle proudly shows his receipt and $3 for selling 3 of his 10 books to The Last Bookstore (they are fussy about what they purchase). Lyle then turned right around and bought $3 worth of new books!

Once a bank, the Last Bookstore viewed from the second floor is truly awe-inspiring. A reader's paradise but perhaps a little depressing for writers -- with all these books, does the world need another?

Once a bank, The Last Bookstore, especially when viewed from the second floor, is truly awe-inspiring. It’s a reader’s paradise but perhaps it’s a little depressing for writers — with all those books, does the world really need another one?

Books are displayed in imaginative ways...

Books are displayed in imaginative ways…

Lyle has just walked through the Tunnel of Books

Lyle has just walked through the Tunnel of Books

If you want a RED book, they have red books. Ditto BLUE, GREEN, WHITE, YELLOW and BLACK.

If you want a RED book, they have red books. Ditto BLUE, GREEN, WHITE, YELLOW and BLACK.

You'll be inspired to pull out your typewriter and start your novel

You’ll be inspired to pull out your typewriter and start your novel…

Or sell a few books and replace them in here

Or sell a few books and replace them in here…

Dance on the Carpet of Pennies

Dance on the Carpet of Pennies

Stop in the yarn shop for a spot of color

Stop by the yarn shop for a spot of color

At the End of the Day…

And, finally, curl up in this chair and read one of your purchases. Obviously, a few others have done so before you!

And, finally, curl up in this chair and read one of your purchases. Obviously, a few others have done so before you!

Copyright (c) 2015 by Sylvia Cary, author of The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published (Timberlake Press)

The Joy of Swimming Upstream

This sign in the window caught my eye, so I went inside...

This sign in the window caught my eye, so I went inside…

I began writing this blog three years ago on the 4th of July, 2011. My first post was called “Celebrating Writer Independence.”  Basically, that has been the theme ever since. My husband was still alive then and on the big night of July 4th, he stood behind me as I sat at my computer, his hands supportively on my shoulders, and with the fireworks literally going off outside, he asked, “Well, are you ready?” “I’m ready,” I said and with my heart pounding as I clicked the “Publish” button — and my blog was born!

“I’m a blogger!” I shouted. It was exciting!

What a country!

I’ve been fully immersed in “indie” ever since. I became a publishing company; I “indie” published my own book, The Therapist Writer, as well as the books of two other authors, and I’m about to publish two more. I’ve been reading about “indie,” talking “indie,” teaching “indie,” and breathing “indie” ever since.  I run a writer’s group and all we do is talk about indie publishing and mourn the closing of bookstores all around us. We meet at CROWN Books in Woodland Hills, California, and it’s our third bookstore.  The others we once met at have blown away.

So, imagine my delight one day as I was walking along Sherman Way in nearby Canoga Park and glanced into a store window — and found myself eye-level with the above sign: “I Refuse to Participate in a Recession.” It was then that I realized that I was looking into a bookstore. Not an old dusty bookstore that was on the verge of going the way of the others, but a new-ish looking bookstore, neat and tidy and bright blue with two cozy arm chairs right up front.  And I could see a man behind a counter — reading a book.

Next Chapter Books in Canoga Park, California

Next Chapter Books in Canoga Park, California

“This I gotta see,” I said to myself, and I marched in.  I just had to find out the story behind that sign.

Boyd T. Davis, the very independent owner of Next Chapter Books in Canoga Park, California

Boyd T. Davis, the very independent owner of Next Chapter Books. He sells “Quality Used Books” — mystery, fiction, music, photography, children’s books, theater, Vietnam, the Civil War, and his favorites, military and aviation.

Here’s the Story

After thirty-eight years in the corporate world, Boyd Davis told me, “I realized I was in a financial position to do what I wanted, so I opened a bookshop in Woodland Hills. Then I needed more space so I moved here.”  That’s it. That’s the story. While other men his age in a similar financial position may be out there golfing, traveling, or going on cruises, Davis is in his shop, reading.

“How do you start a bookshop?” I asked.  I’d never really thought about it before. After all, if you’re a Barnes & Noble or Costco they probably send you books from a distributor, but how do you start off when you’re on your own?

“At first I contributed my own personal collection of books, and then I bought some from library sales, and I also had book scouts hunting for books. Then people started bringing in books.” While Davis doesn’t ordinarily take books on consignment, he is open to talking to local authors about carrying their books on a case-by-case basis. (Crown Books in Woodland Hills also takes kindly to local authors who may display their books and set their own prices.)

You're looking at somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 books: "I never actually individually counted them," Boyd said.

Boyd Davis estimates that he has somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 books: “I never actually set out to individually count them.”

A section of the children's section

(Above) A section of the children’s section.

And his favorite section, military and aviation

The owner’s favorite section — military and aviation

What’s the “Next Chapter” in Publishing?

It’s hard to say what’s on the horizon in the publishing industry. Will more publishers tank? Will “indie” publishing fill the gap? Will more bookstores bite the dust? Are we all swimming upstream? Possibly, but those of us who are “into indie” don’t care. Being in charge of the game is what’s fun!

In fact, the day before the July 4th holiday I drove past Next Chapter Books and glanced inside. Boyd Davis was in one of the big, cozy armchairs — reading.

(Next Chapter Books is located at 21616 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303. The website is http://www.nextchapterbooks.com. Phone: (818) 704-5864; info@nextchapterbooks.com)

(c) 2014 Sylvia Cary, LMFT