I mentioned a little while ago that I was going to make the rounds of various bookstores in the Baltimore area to promote Walk Away. I visited the usual suspects (Barnes & Noble), but at the end of my day I went to a small independent shop I’d never heard of before: The Ivy Bookshop. It’s a good hour’s drive from my house, but the minute I walked in the door I knew I was going to come back.
From time to time, in my idle hours, I think how nice it would be to have my own little bookstore. Nothing fancy, and definitely nothing huge. Just a modest, comfortable place staffed by people who love books, and catering to folks for whom Barnes & Noble is a turnoff and Amazon not human enough. You’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t be, how much a difference it makes to have an actual person talking to you about books, learning your preferences, or surprising you with something you wouldn’t ever have picked up. This is the heart and soul of bookselling, and I fear we lost touch with this a long time ago with the rise of B&N and Borders.
Am I going to make a fortune selling books through independent stores? No, but that’s beside the point. Those five copies of Walk Away (plus two copies of The Night Charter!) meant more to me than the stacks I signed at Barnes & Noble. They were there because the nice folks at The Ivy Bookshop saw what I’d written, saw that it was good, and backed it with their time and money. That says a lot more than some algorithm spitting out buy/sell numbers.
So if you’re in the Baltimore area, do visit The Ivy Bookshop and do spend your money, because we need a lot more places like this, and a lot fewer like the book barns planted on everybody’s corner.