Success! The First Localist Book Signing Is a Wrap!

I’ve worked a lot of book signings — and they’re mostly terrible. An author sits on one side of a table with a stack of books, and people stream into the store doing everything they can to avoid the table, the books and the author. It’s like someone found a way to mix the most awkward first-date conversation ever with the feeling of getting stood up. I never liked it as a bookseller, and I imagine it had to be much worse for the authors. I tried to ban this kind of signing at Church Street — when we have authors to the store, they have to speak to the audience and at least try to engage with people.


Saturday was my first turn at the other side of the table — I had my first signing for my new book, The Localist, at Church Street — and I was pretty terrified. For one thing, I’ve seen enough lonely book signings to know how badly they can go. For another, the signing was a my shop, so I had to follow my own rules and speak to the crowd, which is never something I relish.


I’m happy to report that the signing went beautifully. We had a really good crowd (especially considering it was Iron Bowl Saturday), the audience was engaged and asked great questions, and I had (and overheard) some amazing conversations about the importance of buying locally. My wish for the book isn’t that everyone agrees with what I have to say — my wish is that it starts conversation, and that more of us can start treating our buying habits as something important that makes a difference in our world. That happened on Saturday, and it makes me incredibly happy.


The most beautiful part of the day for me, though, was how the barista-booksellers at Church Street made the day special for me. I’m a silent partner at the shop now, so I wasn’t involved with the planning of the event — for a control freak like me, that’s pretty scary. But Maddie, Janie, Nancy, Clayton, Hoyt and Ashley knew that, and they all worked hard to not only make the event a success, but to make sure I had fun and felt special. From bringing Prosecco to holding an impromptu Localist reading in the middle of the shop, they were kind and wonderful the entire day. In The Localist, I write that it’s being part of a team and having fun with staff that’s what I really love about working in bookstores and coffee shops (p. 227), so the fact that they came through for me means so much.


If you missed Saturday, don’t worry! You haven’t really missed out. I have a big Localist launch party this Wednesday night (December 3) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Nest in Avondale. My favorite local makers are coming to sell some of my favorite products, and Avondale Brewery’s donating beer, so it should be a really fun event. Also, this Friday I have a book signing at Little Professor, so if you like your book signings surrounded by the ambiance of books, we’ve got you covered there, too.

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