By Carole Bumpus
As I prepare for the April 27 launch of my fifth book, A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER: SEARCHING FOR CULINARY PLEASURES AT THE ITALIAN TABLE, I have been considering the environment my book will encounter as it enters the world. Will it meet the same fate as the book I launched last August? Will it find the light within another pandemic-ridden day?
Having just read an article in The New York Times, “What Snoop Dogg’s Success Says About the Book Industry” (by Alter and Harris), I am wondering if the reporters were sounding a death knell over books born during this pandemic? Their message was loud and clear. If you are a well-known individual in the world, whether as a writer or a rapper, your book will have a better chance at books sales than unknown authors. This is not new information. Writers have faced this for years, but is this message more profound during a pandemic?
During these trying times, even publishing companies are flailing. They are desperate to get more books out into the world through bookstores and libraries. But sales have diminished because both outlets are not regularly open. Plus, the pandemic has forced readers to online sales as the drug of choice. And we all know most books purchased are more than likely written by known personages and/or have been highly publicized. Is there room for competition? We’ll see.
Bookstores have also been experiencing the ultimate struggle. In order to open their doors during these past twelve to thirteen months, they have had to reduce the number of store hours, in addition to the number of customers allowed in the store at a time. They, too, have been taking online orders for distribution through their own front doors, but those orders are minimal. Certainly not enough to sustain them. They have also tried their hand at hosting ‘Zoom’ author events which have kept them in the limelight. But those events do not always bring sales. Many folks eager to listen to an author speak love the idea of a free event, but for famous authors a book purchase is required for admission. For less-than-famous authors, Zoom events do not provide a guarantee return for the bookstores’ time and effort.
The truth is, we all want to be physically back inside bookstores. For most readers, their preference has always been to spend hours mulling over choices they had never expected to find. It is stumbling over a pure gem in the poetry division when you were clearly on your way to the travel section. It is getting lost in mysteries when you were heading for the loo. It is the physical experience of connection—the tactile feel of books, themselves, the turning of real pages, the smell of ink wafting off the deckled-edged pages. It is the discovery of all the bright new faces of books recently published, along with those old familiar, timeless, whimsical tales. It is through bookstores that readers come face-to-face with new authors and new books.
April 24, 2021, is Independent Bookstore Day! It is the day you can support your favorite bookstores and celebrate Indie authors. So, what can you do? How can you help bookstores build back stronger? How can you support Independent Bookstores right now?
- Buy through their online stores …
- Participate in virtual events …
- Engage with bookstores on social media …
- Follow and participate in #AskABookseller …
- Buy eBooks and audiobooks …
- Donate to Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or BINC…
- Be vocal about your support
In fact, if you have a mind to, you might find me that very day zooming from my kitchen for this next culinary travel book, September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table. I’m being hosted by the local bookstore, Books, Inc., so drop by for the event. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-italian-culinary-adventure-with-carole-bumpus-tickets-147196148643
Or you could always pre-order my book through the SFWC bookstore at: https://bookshop.org/books/september-to-remember-searching-for-culinary-pleasures-at-the-italian-table-book-three-lombardy-tuscany-compania-apulia-and-lazio-r/9781631527272
Carole Bumpus began a second career as a culinary/travel writer, when she stumbled upon amazing stories of women and war in France. Her historical novel and companion cookbook, A Cup of Redemption and Recipes for Redemption were published in 2014-15. Book One, of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table was published August 2019, her second of this same title is due out this summer. And her third book, Searching for Family and Traditions at the Italian Table launches on April 27, 2021. A retired family therapist, Bumpus lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.