As a first time author, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the book-signing circuit. Two independent book stores in Northern Michigan hosted my initial signings near the setting of “Memory Lake, the forever friendships of summer”, (Vantage Point Books, July 2011.) Far from a chain store’s required demographic, each charming establishment supplied a poster size announcement, a blue table cloth to match my book’s cover, a well appointed location, and a clever arrangement of my books. A steady stream of friendly and interested customers stretched the two hour time frame into three, even after we’d run out of books. The owner took orders from these lingering customers and I made arrangements to sign them. Of course, I expected a similar outcome for my first book signing in the greater DC area, where I live. Instead, the Barnes and Noble manager had to be paged and asked where I’d be positioned. I was instructed to haul table and chair from the coffee shop. My books were found within the store and handed to me. When my two hour window came to a close, the manager promptly crumpled the meager sign, threw it in the trash, dragged the table away and went about her duties. Again, we had sold out. A few lingering patrons desired copies. I directed them to Amazon. (Note, not all Barnes and Noble managers are alike. Later, in Mishawaka IN, I discovered an entire B&N staff to rival the independent stores’ welcome.)
Understandably, I have been lamenting the dearth of independent book stores in the greater DC area. Thank goodness I was invited to a signing event at Page Master Used Books in Front Royal this past weekend. There, I found the blue table cloth upon a well appointed table and a clever display of “Memory Lake”. I also found the perfect balance between a library and an independent book store. Amid illuminating literary discussions, customers paged through new and old books. College students asked about the writing process. The time frame stretched well beyond two hours and no one minded.