Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Independent Bookstore Cruise Part I

At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to attend an amazing book-ish event . . . The first ever Independent Bookstore Cruise hosted by the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance!  I am talking about a day of absolute local literary love, from local independent bookstores to local authors from just about every single genre.  Before I get into the details of the awesome day, let me first begin with a bit of history behind the Alliance . . .

The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance formed earlier this year as a way to work together and help survive.  With many indies on the verge of closing and many just staying above water, this small group of indie booksellers decided to capitalize on each other's strengths instead of seeing each other as competitors.  They began meeting on a regular basis and the Alliance was born.  I originally discovered the Alliance through an article in the Riverfront Times (click here for an abbreviated version of the original), one that immediately caught my attention by using a similar logo as the HBO version of A Band of Brothers, with the substitute title of A Band of Bookstores.  The group decided to help the locals discover a few of the indies available and the Independent Bookstore Cruise was born.

Amy Sklansky signs
You Are My Little Cupcake
for me at Pudd'nhead  Books.
I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this, but alas, I had to wait for payday to get my ticket.  The night I finally had the chance to purchase my ticket, I logged on to Facebook to discover that a mere six minutes before all tickets had sold out.  I was sooooo disappointed!  I immediately emailed the contact name listed and let him know that I would take a ticket if a seat opened up.  I had pretty much given up all hope of ever attending this event, when a few weeks later, I was emailed that one seat was now available.  Did I want it?  Of course!  How could I pass this opportunity up, especially since it would be used as my Mother's Day gift?!?

Ridley Pearson signs a copy of
Kingdom Keepers for me at
Pudd'nhead Books.
The morning of the event, I woke up very excited!  I was participating in the first ever cruise, getting the opportunity to finally discover some of the hidden treasures in an area that I still was not completely familiar with, and on top of all that, I was going to be surrounded by people ALL DAY LONG that had a passion for books and indies just like me!  I could barely contain myself!

The cruise began with everyone meeting at the first indie, Pudd'nhead Books located in Webster Groves ... a quaint little shop with friendly staff filled with books to the brim. We were all greeted with a tote filled with a couple of ARCs, and many of us browsed finding a stack of books in addition to the freebies!  Before long, a great cast of authors appeared to chat informally with the participants, signing their books at our requests.  These authors included Ridley Pearson, Amy Sklansky, and Curtis Sittenfeld.  I was so excited to finish having Pearson sign my now complete copy of Kingdom Keepers and I could not pass up Sklansky's You Are My Little Cupcake for my daughter's upcoming birthday!  I was even lucky to get a shot of all three smiling!

Amy Sklansky, Curtis Sittenfeld, & Ridley Pearson
at Pudd'nhead Books

From there, we all eagerly hopped on the bus to travel to our next destination, Left Bank Books in the Central West End.  It was here that I discovered yet another great treasure and I knew that I would be returning in the near future!  We were all given a special gift, allowed to peruse and once again visit with book-ish folk at our pleasure.  I personally got lost in the used book section downstairs and knew I had to pace myself after finding another stack of books that I must have!  Left Bank decided to step the cruise up a notch, inviting us all next door to eat at Duff's.  I'm not just talking about a quick little lunch before hitting the bus once again.  I'm talking a nice sit down meal where we all had the pleasure of having at least one literary love sitting at our tables.  Some people sat with local authors.  I had the pleasure of sitting with a great crowd of people, including the founder of Walrus Publishing, a new local publishing company.  Each of the guests took a few moments to share some thoughts, from his/her staying power as an author to how s/he got started in the business to even just a few witty remarks.  I was laughing and I was full! (Sadly, my pictures did not turn out from this part of the event.)

Throughout the morning, I was able to relax, talk books surrounded by complete strangers . . . BUT, I felt so comfortable and at home!  Who knew what the afternoon was going to bring?!?  I will give you a hint . . . two more stops and more great literary love!  However, I am going to tease you by ending this post here!  I will be back tomorrow with how the rest of the day went, complete with pictures of my book stash from the day!  And, I promise it does not end there!  I even have an interview with my favorite indie of the bunch coming up later this week too!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful time, and looking forward to part two! Wish we had some indie bookstores in the area as with Borders closing, we just have Barnes & Noble now. The small indie in town shut down a few years ago. :(

  2. Alexia561 ... That is so sad! I personally do not care for Barnes and Noble, so I will be routing that another option comes to your area soon!


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