Indies First letter to Booksellers from Daniel Handler

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There's nothing like the human, organic serendipity of an independent bookshop, where people who read and love books share their love with others.


Daniel Handler

October, 2014

Dear Independent Booksellers,

As you know, many authors lately feel as if they are engulfed in a rather unpleasant flood--as if the fate of their books is whirling dreadfully out of control, battered by the waters of some enormous South American river, the name of which I cannot remember at the moment.  While all this fierce sword fighting rages on around them, independent bookstores continue to struggle with a similar feeling that it's some sort of jungle out there.

As a tonic, allow me to share news of a program, cooked up by assorted interested parties and named, after some tipsy debate, Upstream.  The idea is to connect authors with their local independent booksellers to offer signed books as an alternative to, say, larger and more unnerving corporate machinations.  Upstream was test-piloted this summer and is now spreading steadily, like optimism or syphilis.

How does it work?  Easily, hopefully.  Especially when aligned with the growing Indies First campaign. Here are the numbered steps that I’ve shared with my author colleagues through Authors United:

1.  To participate, authors will contact a local store directly, or sign themselves up at the Indies First author registry. Stores too, can contact an author and ask them to become an Upstream partner. If your store doesn’t know of a local author to go Upstream with, you can check the listing of interested authors on the ABA website.

2. Once the store and the author have agreed to partner for Upstream, your store will order and sell the books; the author will sign them before they go out the door.  Perhaps the author will stop by at regular intervals with his or her pen, or perhaps the author will convince you, using cake or gin, to come to them.  Be sure to let ABA know about the arrangement, so your author's fans will know where to find his/her signed books.

3. Both the store and the author will promote this arrangement as best as possible, spreading the word not only about an exciting source of signed books, but about Upstream and Indies First.

Will Upstream rescue us all from strife and worry?  Of course not.  But the hope is that it will remind both authors and booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and to improve general esprit de corps at a disheartening time.

With all due respect,

Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.








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