The building stands proud and prominent on a history-dense corner in the commercial district of the Big City. Not a member of a countrywide chain in a modern mall, this proudly independent book store has character. The floors are wood and mosaic and a rickety stairway leads down to the basement (children’s books and non-fiction, coffee and cake).
The author enters. Staff members are all busy with the stock. She peruses the shelves studiously. Virtually all of the fiction they carry is literary fiction. There is no ‘populist’ or mass-market stuff. Actually, these are the books which the author likes to read.
Awesome company surrounds her.
She ventures downstairs. The children’s books are for early middle grade and below. No YA at all. The coffee smells good and there are lots of comfy seats. A couple of students are chatting quietly and, at a rough wooden table, two women are deep in conversation over a laptop and a sheaf of closely typed pages.
The author sits down with a coffee and a rather dusty chocolate brownie. She selects a literary magazine from the low table in front of her and listens in to the two women. Eaves-dropping is second nature to an author, after all.
They are discussing which new books they are going to take for the store!
Dare she disturb them?
She thinks about the Margaret Atwoods and the Zadie Smiths upstairs. The beautiful book covers with their multiple reviews and recommendations. She hears them reject the latest Alan Titchmarsh.
She is intimidated.
She buries her head in the literary magazine. Time passes. She listens and ‘people watches’. For a Monday afternoon there are a surprising number of customers. She pigeon-holes them for future reference.
Finally, the two women finish their meeting and go upstairs. The author abandons the remains of the brownie; her mouth is dry enough as it is. She takes a deep breath, then takes the stairs.
One of the women is leaving, but the other smiles at her from behind the desk. The author approaches and enquires in general terms about the store’s purchasing policy. What the owner has to say is interesting, but not exactly encouraging. She explains how they know their purchasing clientele and what will sell in their store.
And here it comes. The woman’s guessed what’s she’s really asking. The author owns up and bravely tells her about her book.
The owner is very pleasant. She explains that they select less than one percent of Indie Authors’ work each year. Anything they do pick has to have a local ‘buzz’ about it. The author’s novel clearly doesn’t fit.
The woman is kind. Another might…one day.
The author reflects. It would be nice to have her book in a bricks and mortar store. But one book, amongst all these… and in just one store..?
At least she has something to share on her blog.