StoryCorps Wants to Record Booksellers’ Stories

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The oral history project StoryCorps is looking to collect stories from booksellers across the country who feel bookselling is their calling, who are passionate about books and readers and are committed to literacy in their communities.

Greenlight Bookstore owners Rebecca Fitting (left) and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo (right) with StoryCorps founder Dave Isay

StoryCorps founder and president Dave Isay may play select bookseller recordings during his national tour for the latest StoryCorps book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work (Penguin Press, April 19).

Booksellers who are interested in recording a StoryCorps interview about the work they do can reserve a StoryCorps booth in Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, or one of StoryCorps' mobile booths, or use the StoryCorps app available for iPhone or Android. Topics for booksellers to consider prior to their interview session include their earliest memories of reading; how they became a bookseller; what makes their bookstore special; their favorite work stories; the best part and the most challenging part of running or working at a bookstore; why they chose to become booksellers; and the lessons they have learned.

Booksellers who choose to record their interview on the StoryCorps app should be sure to tag the interview with the keyword “MyBookCalling.”

Isay, an award-winning maker of public radio documentaries, said he chose to collect booksellers’ stories to play during his book tour for Callings because booksellers’ great passion for their work is unmistakable.

Callings is a book about people who have a fire inside to do the work they’re meant to do. I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores and I can think of few professions where people are more devoted, care as deeply, were born to do the work,” said Isay. “Our office in Brooklyn is around the corner from Greenlight Bookstore and I’m in there a lot and think of it as kind of a sacred space, so the idea of including booksellers was a natural.”

Isay kicked off the bookseller series with a conversation with Greenlight Bookstore owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, whom he called “amazing and inspiring.”

“I just asked one question and they were off to the races — the passion and love and hard work they put into Greenlight personifies everything Callings is about,” Isay said. “Rebecca and Jessica are a reminder to find the work you’re meant to do and then never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.”

Booksellers looking to hand-sell Callings can recommend it as a book “for anyone who is feeling down in this political environment — or who is worried about the messages their kids may be getting about what constitutes a meaningful work life,” said Isay.

“Each story shakes you on the shoulder and reminds us of what’s really important. It’s a celebration of the grace and poetry and beauty in the stories we find all around us when we take the time to listen.”

Other StoryCorps books authored/edited by Isay include the New York Times bestsellers Listening Is an Act of Love (2007); Mom: A Celebration of Mothers From StoryCorps; All There Is: Love Stories From StoryCorps (2012); and Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude From the First Ten Years of StoryCorps (2013). 

Those interested in listening to StoryCorps’ interview with Fitting and Stockton Bagnulo can find it here.