Indies First movement turns hundreds of authors into booksellers

To support Indies First, scores of authors will be working in indie bookstores on Small Business Saturday.

Ann Hermes
Customers and their dog visit Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn. Bank Square Books is one of the indie stores participating in Indies First and will be hosting authors James Benn, Ann Haywood Leal, and Susan Kietzman.

Indies First, the effort to support independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday by having authors work in stores that day, is growing by leaps and bounds.

As of mid-October, almost 300 authors had signed up to work at various indie locations, but now more than 700 are onboard, according to the American Booksellers Association. The writers will be working at more than 400 stores across the country. Small Business Saturday takes place on Nov. 30 this year.

Indies First was created by “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” author Sherman Alexie, who wrote a letter to his fellow writers about his idea in September. The author said the co-owner of Seattle’s Queen Anne Book Company, Janis Segress, mentioned the idea this past spring after Alexie worked there.

“Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores,” Alexie wrote in his letter. “I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).... The most important thing is that we’ll all be helping Independent bookstores, and God knows they’ve helped us over the years.” 

The author also requested that writers put a buy button on their sites linking to the store at which they will be selling titles that day.

Today marks the last day authors and/or stores to sign up using the ABA website, but late arrivals can still join by e-mailing the ABA until Nov. 22.

Venice, Italy has also gotten in on the idea, according to the ABA. Indies First in Venice will also take place on Nov. 30. The group known as Venezia: City of Readers, which counts indie store workers and authors among its members, is encouraging people to visit various indie locations and meet authors there.

Wondering if a store near you will have an author working behind the counter on Nov. 30 in America? Check out this map.

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