Coming to a bookstore near you: Authors as booksellers


It’s not hard to find an author at a bookstore: Just go during the early evening and look for the person squinting under the bright lights, reading to a small crowd of people seated in folding chairs. But on Small Business Saturday, the roles will be reversed: They won’t be taking center stage. They’ll be there to help you.

Authors have signed up to spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving volunteering as booksellers at their local independent bookstores.

About 100 independent bookstores nationwide are planning to have authors come in and assist customers. Maybe they’ll prowl the aisles. Maybe they’ll make book recommendations (expect a few selfies). Maybe they’ll be at the register ringing up customers or doing some holiday book gift-wrapping. There will probably be a little of this at every participating bookstore.


But not all will have bestselling authors doing the honors. For that, you’d have to go to Broadway Books in Portland, Ore., where Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”) has signed up to volunteer; Classic Bookshop in Palm Beach, Fla., to buy books from mega-bestseller James Patterson; or Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, where you’ll find children’s book author Jon Scieszka.

The long list of writers appearing at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle includes Maria Semple (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”), Jonathan Evison (“The Fundamentals of Caregiving”), and Sherman Alexie (“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”), the National Book Award winning author who kicked off the entire effort.

In the L.A. area, Naomi Hirahara will be at Book’Em Mysteries in South Pasadena; Meredith Maran among the authors at Book Soup in West Hollywood; Antoine Wilson at Diesel in Brentwood; and Paul Vitagliano and Cecil Castellucci at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Castellucci is one of the sometime bookstore employees who’ve signed up for Small Business Saturday, like Emma Straub, who will be at WORD in Brooklyn.

And there will be more: We know the list of authors appearing online is not yet final because our own Hector Tobar, who writes novels such as “The Barbarian Nurseries” in addition to working for the L.A. Times, has signed up to sell books at Vroman’s in Pasadena. Look for him there the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

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