Celebrating my Paperback Birthday and Indy Bookstores

written_in_stone260Today is the book birthday of the paperback edition of Written in Stone. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve gotten for this book from teachers and librarians and independent bookstores. My book has been honored by the Junior Library Guild. It was on the Mock Newbery list at Anderson’s Bookshop and on the Amelia Bloomer list for books with significant feminist content. It was placed on the 100 Best Books for Reading and Sharing by the New York Public Library and most recently on the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature Best Books of the Year list.

It’s never easy to find a market for a book with a non-white main character. Historical fiction doesn’t usually get the kind of buzz that goes to fantasy and science fiction. Middle grade books are often overshadowed by their larger and more glamorous cousins in the young adult market. And yet this little story about a Quinault and Makah girl trying to hold onto her culture in the face of huge social and economic change is chugging along just fine because independent bookstores have chosen to feature it and teachers and librarian’s have advocated for it in their schools.

There is a well-publicized battle afoot between Amazon and one of the largest publishers in the country, which is reminding me a little bit of my character Pearl and her struggles for the survival of her culture. So I thought I’d spend a moment today to remember things that independent bookstores (and libraries) do for their communities that Amazon will never do.

  1. Amazone will not post your local school’s summer reading list in the store and promise to stock those books all summer long.
  2. Amazon will not provide a meeting space for your book club.
  3. Amazon will not bring balloons to your book launch party.
  4. Amazon will not bring your favorite author to town to chat about book and music and going to college with your avid reading teen.
  5. Amazon will not hold the book that author signed for your teen behind the counter so that she can pay for it after her next lawn mowing job.
  6. Amazon will not donate anything to your local fund raiser, certainly not a basket full of carefully chosen and beautifully wrapped novels.
  7. Amazon will not organize writers’ workshops in your neighborhood.
  8. Amazon has never read a picture book out loud to a circle of eager preschoolers or given their mothers a place to shop where children are welcome to touch things and talk out loud and sing if they feel like it and pet the cat if they are gentle.
  9. Amazon does not make window displays that encourage foot traffic to nearby businesses. It doesn’t organize the neighborhood shops to provide a safe trick or treat zone for kids at Halloween. It doesn’t join the local small business association and work on projects that boost the economy of the entire neighborhood.
  10. Amazon does not carry your grandpa’s favorite newspaper and have it ready for him every morning and stand around and chat politics with him for a few minutes every day. And on the cold icy morning when your grandpa doesn’t come to the shop like usual, Amazon does not call him at home to ask if it can drop off the newspaper at the end of the day.

Yes, I know, I’m being a little sarcastic here. Amazon does some things very well. Mostly its good at making books cheap. But even there the books you get at Amazon will never be free. For free books, you have to visit your public library!
I’d love to hear from readers about what they love about their local indy booksellers or libraries. At the end of the week I’ll give away 5 copies of my paperback to people who comment. I know some of you don’t have an indy bookseller nearby. On all my book pages there is a button to link you to either Powells or an indy bookstore near you who will ship you any book you want. And as always, if you want a signed copy of any of my books please give my local bookseller a call. They’ll set aside a copy for me to sign and ship it wherever you’d like. They are Annie Blooms Bookstore at (503) 246-0053.

5 thoughts on “Celebrating my Paperback Birthday and Indy Bookstores

  1. Louise Galveston

    Congratulations on your paperback release, Rosanne! I’m so glad Written in Stone is getting the attention it deserves.

    My local indie is a wonderful store called Watermark Books and Cafe. They hosted my launch party and supply me with books for events. They’ve got an AMAZING cafe and local writing groups meet in their basement. The walls are signed with messages from writers and artists who’ve visited. In fact, I wrote my signature right under Clare Vanderpool’s! (She’s from Wichita like me.) 🙂 That was a night I’ll never forget.

  2. Rosanne Parry Post author

    Thanks Louise!

    I love that tradition of signing something in the bookstore. A Children’s Place in Portland has a table with hundreds of signatures on it. And a few artists over the years have made pictures in sharpie on the walls.

  3. k Marthaler

    Thanks for this post Rosanne. It’s true, independent booksellers are the best. Every time we go to Wallace Books in Sellwood (Portland), it’s like coming home.

  4. Rosanne Parry Post author

    I don’t think I even knew about Wallace Books. So many good bookstores in Portland! We really are astonishingly lucky.

  5. Arjay C.

    Dear Ms. Parry:

    I’m an American Indian of multiple tribal affiliations who worked as a children’s librarian for a decade. I knew both Native and non-Native who enjoyed your novel Written In Stone. I recently purchased several copies to pass out amongst American Indian youth for summer reading. These youngsters (and their parents) thought the book was great. They (and I) loved seeing the main character be a Native American Indian girl.

    Pearl was the ideal heroine for this story and I understand why the children loved reading about her challenges, choices and feelings in Written In Stone. Two American Indian children eagerly asked if there were to be any more books about Pearl and her life in the 1920s. So, I guess this is an outright question- are we going to see more of our independent and thoughtful young heroine Pearl in any more stories? The 1920s was a decade of many changes and events affecting society… could we see more of Pearl as she lives through this decade or an older Pearl in the 1930s Great Depression era?

    If not, Pearl… please consider other American Indian characters for any future books you may write. You did a great job bringing Pearl alive amidst those pages… and your American Indian fans would like to see more such portrayals. Ms. Parry, thank you for Written In Stone.

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