If you love bookstores -- getting lost in the stacks and shelves and feeling the magic of a well-curated shop full of stories -- you won't want to miss Authors for Indies Day. The program, which takes place this year on Saturday, April 29, brings together independent bookstores and authors, with authors acting as temporary booksellers for the day. Meant to celebrate the indie bookstore and its role in the literary and wider community, the event takes place across the country and features dozens of stores and hundreds of authors, including Kenneth Oppel, Scaachi Koul, and Linwood Barclay, to name just a few.
A new initiative this year is helping to expand the program: the Authors for Indies Road Show. Several vehicles, sponsored by publishers House of Anansi, Penguin Random House Canada, Dundurn Press, HarperCollins Canada, and Simon & Schuster Canada, will take authors to indenpedent stores outside of the GTA, to help spread the Authors for Indies program to additional communities of book lovers. This year's stops include stores in Brighton, Cobourg, Port Hope, Peterborough, and Uxbridge.
Guest bookseller and author Kate Hilton speaks to us today about the Road Show program, telling us about how the idea started out, why it's important to think beyond urban centres, and what books she'll be recommending as a guest bookseller.
You can check out the Authors for Indies website to find when and at which stores authors will be participating (check out the Find a Store menu).
How did the Authors for Indies Road Show idea come about? What do you hope to accomplish through the initiative?
The idea came from one of our most enthusiastic booksellers, Shelley Macbeth of Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge. The Authors for Indies team was brainstorming ways to get authors out of major urban centres and into some of the terrific bookstores in small towns and rural areas. As is the case with most great ideas, we wondered why we hadn’t thought of it before.
Why do you think it is important to extend the Authors for Indies program to stores outside of urban centres? Can you tell us about the stores who are participating?
Most writers are clustered in cities, but readers are everywhere. And it bears repeating: there are some truly spectacular bookstores outside of major cities. Many of those bookstores are stalwart supporters of Authors for Indies, so we wanted to send some love back to them by ensuring that they got their fair share of authors out in their stores on April 29th.
This year, the Road Show is running out of Toronto, so we were working with a maximum three-hour distance from downtown (next year, we’re planning to extend the Road Show to the Vancouver area). I’m going to Curiosity House in Creemore, and Forster’s Book Garden in Bolton. Other cars are going to Lighthouse Books in Brighton, Let’s Talk Books in Cobourg, Furby House Books in Port Hope, Hunter Street Books in Peterborough, and, of course, Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge.
How did you become involved with Authors for Indies?
Janie Chang, the fearless founder of Authors for Indies, was looking for a Toronto-based writer to help out, as she’s out on the west coast. Guy Gavriel Kay, who is a big fan of Authors for Indies, introduced us. Janie and Guy are both very persuasive. And I couldn’t find a compelling reason to say no, since I love independent bookstores.
What, in your opinion, is unique and valuable about independent bookstores?
As a reader, I love that every indie is curated like a museum collection, and bears the personal stamp of its owner. It is such a pleasure to sift through someone else’s favourite books. I always find something unexpected and wonderful.
As a writer, I’m so grateful for everything that independent bookstores do to promote and support my work, and the work of other writers. Long after my books have fallen off the radar of larger retailers, there are always some keen independent booksellers who continue to recommend them.
Have you had any experience working in a bookstore? What would your go-to recommendations be if you were working in one now?
It was always my dream! But sadly, no. The closest I’ve ever come is Authors for Indies Day, when I show up at bookstores and pretend to work there. This is yet another thing that I owe to independent bookstores.
So this year, if you show up at a bookstore where I’m ‘working’, I’ll try to get you to buy one of my fabulous recent reads: Janie Chang’s Dragon Springs Road, Jennifer Robson’s Goodnight From London, Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, Michael Harris’s Solitude, Kate Eberlen’s Miss You, David Nicholls’s Us, and Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project.
What can you tell us about your next project?
I have a novel coming out on May 30th. It’s a domestic and political comedy called Just Like Family. So at the moment, I’m working on getting it launched, while mostly pretending to write my third novel.
Kate Hilton is the bestselling author of The Hole in the Middle and Just Like Family. She is represented by Beverley Slopen, of the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency. She lives with her two sons in Toronto, where she is working on her third novel.
Authors for Indies Day (Saturday, April 29, 2017) is an annual event held at independent bookstores (indies) all across Canada. On this day, Canadian authors show their appreciation for indie bookstores by volunteering as guest booksellers. AFI is a different sort of literary event -- it's a grassroots volunteer-run campaign whose goal is to raise awareness of indie bookstores and how important they are: to our communities, our reading lives, and our cultural well-being.