Support the Locals

I like browsing the bookstores, especially this time of the year. It’s only natural, I suppose, something that most writers like to do in their spare time. I mean, you have to get out there, see what’s been published. Right?

This time of the year there are people buying books who don’t buy at any other time of the year. I remember this time last year when my book was newly out, I walked into one bookstore that was buzzing with shoppers. I’d been there a few weeks earlier for a book signing and so the staff knew me. When they spotted me amongst the shoppers, they asked if I would sign another batch of books that had just arrived, then placed a “signed by author” sticker on the cover.

Local books were stacked up everywhere, and waiting to be placed on the shelves. I’d never seen that particular store quite that busy.

Of course every store has their own way of displaying books, with different categories—Health and Fitness, Biographies, Children’s, Local, etc. It makes sense. You want a certain type of book you know what section to head in.

Many of the bookstores I’ve been to display my book in the local section. There seems to be quite a number of people who like to support local authors. Many of them buy all their books in that section especially during the Christmas season. I think it also says something for the bookstore. It lets the local writing community know that they are supportive of our local talents.

One day last week, while out with a few friends shopping I mentioned that the particular bookstore in the mall we were in displayed my book in the teen section and how I felt it was lost among some of those huge sellers that are on the market now.

Why wasn’t it in the local section, we wondered?

You’ve gotta love friends who take it upon themselves to find out the why. So while they marched into the bookstore and asked, I hid waited at a safe distance for them outside one of the other shops. They were gone for what seemed like a very long time.

The answer they were given was that this particular store only displays non-fiction books in their local section.


My friends were not giving up easily.

So why is *******’s book in that section— it’s fiction? (The lone fiction title there I might add. Could be it was put there by mistake.)

The worker finally bowed out, saying that she works in stationary….I guess some questions defy answers.

Now, while I understand that each storeowner has a right to display books where they wish, I question the choice of this particular bookseller to omit fiction from their local section. Not everyone looking to buy local, steers away from fiction. In fact, it might encourage those looking for local books to buy some of the great fiction that’s being published in our region.

Ah well, I appreciated the effort my friends made. I certainly wouldn’t have had the nerve to ask this myself. On the other hand, I’d speak up quick enough about some one else’s book. It feels different when it’s your own. At least, it does for me. Guess I’m just not a pushy broad.

This leads me to ask several questions:

Are you one of those book buyers who like to support local authors? Do you like to see fiction and non-fiction displayed side by side in the local section?

For any of the authors out there:

Have you ever entered a bookstore and asked to see where your book is displayed? Would you let the bookstore know if you thought it should be displayed in the local section? Or do you even think it matters what section you book is displayed in?

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  1. Interesting post, as always. I’m just happy HARE has finally made it onto Chapters’ shelves! But, yes, I think I would ask if it could be in the “Local” section, if they had one. Cheers!

  2. Interesting questions, Laura…I see your post from the other side, as a bookstore owner. We have a huge selection of local books in our store, but we have them divided into non-fiction and fiction (all in the same area). They are also sub-divided by the area they pertain to or where the author hails from.


    • I think it’s nice that you recognize fiction titles as well as non-fiction titles in your local section, Wendy. I think if it’s written by a local author and is relevent to a local audience it should be in the local section.. :)

  3. duke1959

     /  December 12, 2010

    I do think there is a difference bewteen local stores and chain stores as to how things are done. We need to support local stores as much as possible.

  4. I do indeed buy local authors whenever possible. In fact I just bought three books for myself from my hubby (tee hee) that are all Atlantic Canadians. As for my book it’s not out yet and the first one is out of print. Being a gardening book it’ll likely be in gardening sections tho.

    • Is your book coming out this spring, Jodi? I can see where it would make sense to have it in the gardening section since it is a gardening book.

      I don’t buy local exclusively, but I always look in the local section to what’s new. Lucky you, three book for Christmas.

  5. Pam Chamberlain

     /  December 12, 2010

    Okay, this really isn’t relevant, but it reminded me of the time I went into a big movie rental store looking for a movie (Calendar) by a Canadian producer (Atom Egoyan). I was directed to the “Foreign” section, where all the Canadian movies were (inexplicably) group with movies from France, Spain, etc. It was weird!

    • Sometimes makes you wonder who makes these decisions and just how much thought they put into it…Thanks for dropping in, Pam!

  6. I have yet to see any bookstore in my area have a local section. There have been a number of book signings by local authors, but since they are all nonfiction, I haven’t bought any. Suffice to say, if my store had a local section of fiction authors, I would buy it.

    • No local section!!!! Ah, see they’re loosing sales as we speak. I think many people feel the same way about supporting local talent.

  7. I think your book should be in both places, thus, draw both readerships. It’s a great book for teens to read. The main character is a teenager, if I remember correctly. Maybe bookstores will not place a book in two categories, but they’d be smarter if they did. They would sell more books. Blessings to you…

    • I like your thinking, CArol Ann! I think you’re right though, there is only so much room and some books don’t even make it on those shelves.

  8. Judi

     /  December 12, 2010

    I believe that “Local” writers should be in the local section, no matter what type of book it is. Like one person said they have it in sections whether it be fiction, non-fiction, gardening or birds. But that’s just my opinion, I would like to go to local section and find your book…..

    • Hey you! My partner in crime..LOL!

      Many of the bookstores do have it in the local section. I was surprised that this particular one didn’t though. Ah well, maybe this store worker mentioned what you had to say to the store owner.

  9. Whenever my BF goes into a bookstore in her city, she finds a copy of my book and faces it outwards at eye level. She also goes to the computers in all the Chapters.Indigo stores and brings it up on the screen. With that kind of loyalty, I can’t understand why I’m not on Oprah. LOL!

    • LOL! Ya, she’s not the only one who does that…I like to put my friend’s books facing outward, and my own of course…Hehehe How else will anyone see those wonderful covers and snap them up?

  10. It doesn’t make sense to me either why they only put non-fiction in the local section?

    I have been reading one book from a quasi- local (He’s from Kingston and I live in Ottawa) author, but most of the books I read are by Americans. I’d like to change that though and get more Canadian and Ottawan authors on my shelves!

    • I’d personally like to see all the local titles together, fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps this particular bookseller isn’t a novel reader. Who knows?

      Supporting our homegrown talent is a good thing, I think, amd not just because I’m a writer. This of course does not mean that I don’t buy or read books written by authors from other countries because I do.

  11. I’m such a clueless newbie. I didn’t even know bookstores had local sections. The library is my stomping ground. My bad. I should hangout at the bookstore more often. No telling what I could learn.

    • A bookstore is a wonderful place to hang out. You might even run to an author or two moving their book so that the cover is facing outward. :)

  12. If you remember the photos I shared, the library where my writing group meets has a local section that extends to having shelves just for authors from *that* city. I don’t suppose that’s practical for bookstores but it would be nice. Our town’s Black Bond bookstore has a “Canadiana” section that I always like to browse. I love to see local fiction and non-fiction displayed together.

    • Yes, I do remember your photos from the library, Carol. I’m totally with you on having fiction and non-fiction titles displayed together.

  13. I did go in to Chapters and ask for a signing. They were all “signed up” for before Christmas, but asked me to sign some books. I asked them if they couldn’t move my books up to the front of store (they were buried in General Fiction. They weren’t responsive. But in the end, they did place me in the local section (I don’t mind a mix of fiction and non-fiction). Later, after their order of my books sold out, they moved me out front! In the meantime, I give what support I can to my local indie.

    • That was a brave move on your part, Hilary and I admire that in people, truly. Glad the bookstore responded by moving your book to the local section and ecstatic that they then had to move you out front! Yay!!!

      Books have to be seen to sell. When a book is local, I think a bookstore should do everything they can to help promote and sell the book, after all they’re expecting patrons to come in and buy from them rather than order off the internet.

  14. Chapters in Dartmouth must be doing a pretty good job after reading these comments. I’ve seen fiction and nonfiction grouped together on their local table (the one to the right as soon as you walk in) and in the local shelf area.

    These are the first places I look for a book. Every year, I buy one about/from Newfoundland for my mom. That’s her birth province. And I always buy local books for myself.

    I guess I’m aware of local fiction because I’m always on the look out. The Atlantic Books Today booklet is a great place to find them.

    Good horse books by Canadian authors for kids between 10 and 14 are hard to find. I stumbled on to the Saddle Island Series by Sharon Siamon a few years back. This series is set in Nova Scotia. My daughter, age 13, loves them.

    Diane Tibert

    • I do like the fact that Chapters has a local section. Last year, when I was doing my signings, the manager told me that they believe in promoting local authors and books. Music to my ears.

      The Atlantic Books Today booklet is definitely a great marketing tool especially during the Christmas season when so many people look to buy local as gifts.

      Thank you for dropping in again, Diana and for subscribing to my blog. Hopefully, our paths will one day cross since we’re not so far away from one another. :)

      • Laura, you’ll be happy to learn that I was at Chapters, Dartmouth on Monday and your book (a stack of eight or more) was on the table with other local authors (fiction and nonfiction). It’s that table off to the right, the one you can’t help but see when you enter. There were two people looking over the books when I entered and three when I left.
        I’m sure our paths will eventually cross. We’re in the same world: the writing world. Lol. Hope the holidays are happy ones.

  15. For some crazy chapters was putting local authors in the tourism section. make sense????
    Not sure if they finally rectified that problem – it was ridiculous and a lot of people complained!

    • It does seem silly sometimes where some books are actually displayed. You’d think common sense would sometime prevail in these matters. I mean, after all, it’s in the book sellers best interest to display books in a manner where they can be easily found and purchased.

  1. 2011: Year of the Locals « Brightest Blue

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