(in praise of) Indie Booksellers

by | Oct 21, 2023

Salt Spring Island* rises from the Salish Sea, between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The 74-sq. mile land mass is home to 3 wineries (or maybe it’s 4), a brewery, and at least 1 distillery; a productive olive orchard (is an entire slope of olive trees known collectively as an orchard?); witches, priestesses, and covens; and 1 pop-up and 2 brick-and-mortar bookstores.

We are an island of multitudes.

This week, I had the pleasure of walking a bag of my books into Stinging Nettle Books (the pop-up), located temporarily at the Switchboard Cafe on Hereford Ave., and chatting with the owner, Gizem. Her stated intention is to hand-sell stories of colonialism, racism, feminism, 2SLGBTQQIA+, immigration and displacement, ecological crisis, capitalism, class society, and liberation. She also loves to read fantasy fiction and wants to support local authors – which is why I was there.

I had met Gizem and her partner, Anton, in September, at an event for local small-business owners organized by Folklife Magazine. The event was a resounding success, forging new friendships and connections within the extended community. Since then, in addition to opening the pop-up, Gizem has also started The Intersectional Feminism Book Club, with October’s focus being on witches.

On Saturday, 28 October, I’ll be hanging out with Gizem at Stinging Nettle Books from 12-1:30pm, chatting about all things witchy and creative. Paperbacks of the Calliope Jones novels – featuring an earth witch who lives on Salt Spring Island – will be available for purchase. Afterward, we head to Salt Spring Library to discuss “Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen. Join us if you’re on the island!

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Adina, owner of Salt Spring Books. She’s carried my paperbacks since I first started self-publishing, and I had left copies of two books that will come out in 2024 with her earlier in the week for her to peruse and decide if she wanted to carry them.

Adina’s response was to hug “The Goddess & the Woodsman” to her chest and not let go – so I guess that’s a yes (book 2 of the Goddessverse Fantasy Series, “Persephone Lost & Found”, had to come home with me because Mr. Moss is next in line to read that one).

It’s because of people like Gizem and Adina that I encourage authors to get to know their local independent booksellers. For one thing, it’s worth putting yourself out there and practicing peddling your books. Yes, I know some booksellers might be not friendly toward your genre (romance authors especially seem to encounter this bias), but it has been my experience that these folks are a passionate lot. They read, and they love chatting with readers and handpicking recommendations for them. Inside Salt Spring Books, customers gravitate toward shelves Adina has dedicated to local authors. And Gizem told me she prioritizes finding and reading books set in the locale where she’s landed, in order to experience the place from a writer’s perspective.

To all the indie booksellers out there, I appreciate you.

***

*I respectfully acknowledge Salt Spring Island is unceded territory within the ancestral and unceded traditional lands of the Hul’qumi’num and SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples.

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