Something amazing is happening right now at independent bookstores all over the world. These moments range from the private--a child reading quietly in the children's department, or an extraordinary handselling session between bookseller and reader--to the very public, like an unforgettable author event. Last weekend, in the midst of the Independent Store Day frenzy, I had to miss Booktopia Vermont, one of these wonderful, bookish moments, but I don't want it to pass unremarked upon.
In Manchester Center, home of the Northshire Bookstore, Random House sales reps and Books on the Nightstand co-hosts Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness held their next-to-last Booktopia event. I covered their first Booktopia in 2011, and since then Booktopias have been held in several cities in partnership with some great indie booksellers. After the inaugural event, Ann told me: "We started with the reader. Every plan we made, every idea we had, started with the reader in mind. We did this for them, not for the authors and not for the bookstore. I didn't realize this really until one of our guests said, 'It was a reader's retreat, not an author's retreat.' "
|Ann Kingman (l.) and Michael Kindness (r.) bookend the authors who participated in last weekend's Booktopia Vermont
I liked her words then and I like them now. Thank you notes are in order. One came in a video by Ryan Ludman, a multiple-time/multiple location Booktopia attendee. Another can be found in the words of Northshire buyer Stan Hynds, who spoke on behalf of the bookstore to open Saturday night's Celebration of Authors event. I'd like to share the transcript of his thank you note:
"We are going to try to say thank you now which is going to be very difficult to do. I can't come up with a few well-constructed sentences, string them together in one lovely paragraph and adequately express how grateful we are to Ann and Michael.... The best I can do is make a list. Maybe the cumulative effect of a detailed list will come close to being adequate. First, Thank You. For the podcast. That's a good place to start. We certainly wouldn't be here if it weren't for that. You started with a great idea. You have executed it well and it is a pleasure to listen to every week.
"Thank You also for all the hard work and countless hours it takes in creating that podcast. Among ourselves, we always say we don't know how you have time to do everything you do. Somehow you do it plus your regular more-than-full-time job. I, too, have a full-time job and wonder what would happen if I told my boss and family that in addition to the bookstore, I'm going to create an audio product about my interest in books, baseball and 70s pop music. I'll do one every week and put it out there and see if anybody listens. Well, I'd never do that. But you do. So we're making headway but we're not there yet because...
"Thank You. For simply having the idea of a Books on the Nightstand retreat and having the guts to give wings to it. And talk about your hard work. 'Hey boss and family. In addition to the audio product, I'm going to invite 80 of my best listeners to a weekend--no, weekends--around the country in towns with baseball stadiums. I'll plan the programs, catering and lodging. It'll be great.' Never. But you do.
"Thank You--and we say this at the Northshire all the time--for having Booktopia here. You bring wonderful authors and dream customers into our store. Yes, the sales are much appreciated, especially this time of year, but the energy and passion of the Booktopia crowd is absolutely inspiring to us and we are extremely grateful. Maybe we're getting close but we're still not there because...
"Thank You. For helping create a community. With a good idea, hard work and a little technology…look what you did. Communities come in all shapes and sizes and this is definitely one. I know at this point Ann and Michael would prefer to deflect the praise, credit others, and have me stop talking but we can't just yet because, finally...
"Thank You. For being the kind of people you are. Good-hearted, decent, book-loving human beings. If it weren't for that I know we wouldn't be here. They wouldn't want to come and, frankly, we wouldn't want to host you. From the bottom of our hearts and the bottom of this list, we thank you, Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness."
Amazing things are happening in the book world right now; and I mean right now... everywhere. All we have to do is pay attention... and occasionally say thank you. --Published by Shelf Awareness, issue #2503