Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling author of Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Torch, and the forthcoming Brave Enough (Knopf), will be this year’s official spokesperson for Indies First, a national campaign of activities and events in support of independent bookstores, the American Booksellers Association announced on Wednesday.
For the third consecutive year, on Small Business Saturday (this year November 28), authors will volunteer as honorary booksellers at independent bookstores around the country. In addition to autographing and selling their own books, the authors will handsell their favorite titles, present readings, and more.
In a letter released on Wednesday, Strayed calls on her fellow authors to actively support Indies First by linking from their websites to their local independent bookstores (or IndieBound.org) for book sales and by signing up to be booksellers at their favorite independent bookshops on November 28.
Strayed, who will spend Indies First in Portland, Oregon, at her local independent bookstore, Broadway Books, said: “There are so many ways that a rich and vibrant network of independent booksellers contribute to the betterment of book culture in America…. Indies First is a way to say thank you.”
For the entire month of October, booksellers will be able to take advantage of special offers on a wide array of frontlist and backlist titles from publishers that are showing their support for the Indies First campaign.
When planning orders, booksellers should reach out to their visiting authors to find out which titles they plan to handsell on Small Business Saturday, and then check the publishers’ Indies First specials to see what offers may apply.
Bookstores are also encouraged to submit details for any Indies First events they will be hosting to the Store Indies First Activity Registry, which will create a pin for the store on the Indies First Activity Map on IndieBound.org.
ABA member bookstores will receive Indies First marketing materials in the October Red Box mailing, including co-branded bookmarks from American Express, Indies First balloons, and blue Indies First bags. An order form will be available on BookWeb.org for members to purchase additional bags directly from Penguin Random House. Additionally, a PDF of Strayed’s letter is available to ABA members in the Designs and Downloads section of BookWeb.org, along with Indies First logos and poster designs.
Indies First was created by author Sherman Alexie in 2013; since then, authors Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman, and Amanda Palmer have also served as spokespeople for the campaign. In 2014, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) introduced a companion to Indies First called Upstream, a bookstore-author partnership that connects authors with their local independent booksellers to offer signed stock.