So basically, I made it today's goal (on September 11th, of all days) to visit three independent bookstores in Washington D.C....all of them in the vicinity of Georgetown. I visited:
Presse Bookstore (http://www.pressebooks.com/)Glover Park Books and Music Bridge Street Books
My first stop was at Presse Bookstore, located up Wisconsin Avenue, pretty close to the heart of Georgetown. There, I met Harvetta Asamdah (pronounced Harv-eeta). She is a nice person, and seemed interested in meeting a local DC author. The store is a quaint little place, and it has a concrete staircase that you walk down (just like Emma's bookstore in The Immortal Ones!).
While I was inquiring about book signings and such things, Harvetta brought up the topic of changes in book commerce and sales. Of course, everyone is aware of how much technology is growing, and ebooks are becoming increasingly popular. I, myself, still prefer hard copies of books, but that's neither here or there. She also described to me the hardships of owning an independent bookstore and I realized that running your own store can be a 24/7 round-the-clock commitment. She gave me tips on marketing my book and let me know some details on setting up a book signing at her store. I let her know that I'll think about it.
In the meantime, she's displaying my book at her store so it can rouse the curiosity of her customers. From there, people can order the book. I'll be stopping by there again soon enough.
Glover Park Books and Music
Further north up Wisconsin Avenue (about a mile), I stopped by Glover's. This place closed down. I actually wasn't too surprised to see that. Although there was some traffic on this side of Wisconsin Ave, the location didn't seem that feasible for an independent bookstore.
The smell of delicious food coming from nearby restaurants did tickle my curiosity, but I passed (Z-Burger, Rockland's BBQ and Grilling)
Bridge Street Books
I got back in my car and headed to the busy part of Georgetown....M Street. My lucky-self found parking near the waterfront. A couple of blocks and I found myself walking in Bridge Street Books, owned by a guy named Rod.
This store gets a LOT of traffic--a perfectly situated location for a bookstore like his. Bridge Street contained a LOT of political books, which must be Rod's "thing". There was a small section of mainstream bestsellers and a good selection of fiction literature in the upstairs area of the store. This store was also small and quaint.
When I spoke with Rod, I inquired about book signings and his willingness to stock books by local authors. He was fairly nonchalant, but did express willingness to give my book a chance. I gave him a copy of the novel for him to read. He suggested I stop by again in the next couple of weeks....which I definitely will do.Barnes and Noble in Georgetown
Lastly, I decided to walk in the bookstore powerhouse, Barnes & Noble, located on busy M street. Predictably, this store was crowded.
I walked straight to the Customer Service desk and spoke with a pleasant girl (didn't catch her name). The conversation went like this:
Girl: Hey (focused on processing something in the computer)
Me: You guys sell a book in your online store called The Immortal Ones
Me: (Smiling) I'm the author
Girl: (Shocked) Oh...alright.
Me: (Laughing) Yea, but you guys don't carry the book inside the actual stores.
Girl: (After looking it up on the computer) Darn, we most likely won't because your book is listed as pre-pay, meaning it's print-on-demand, and we don't carry those types of books in the store.
Me: (Gritting my teeth)
So yea, I learned that self-publishing a book has a major drawback...like the near impossibility of it ever being stocked in a brick and mortar bookstore.
There is hope. The girl gave me the manager's information and said that something MIGHT be able to be worked out if I talk to her. That I shall do (when she's available, of course).Bartleby's Books
On the way back to the car, I encountered Bartleby's Books. Although I realized right away that this store would probably NEVER carry a book like mine, I was intrigued with what I saw.
There were amazing vintage books dating as far back as the late 1800's! The most interesting thing on display (in a protective case, of course) was the complete set of Henry David Thoreau's manuscript edition book collection, selling at over $18,000!!
It was a nice day-trip of visiting DC's finest indy bookstores. I'm not holding my breath on seeing my book all over their shelves, though. One place I realized I didn't visit....Kramer's Bookstore in Dupont Circle.
To Be Continued...