Bibliophiles rejoice! One of your favorite moments – Independent Bookstore Day – is at hand and there’s a spot at Mobile’s heart just for you.
The Haunted Book Shop (109 Dauphin St.) on Bienville Square is one of 550 nationwide stores gearing up for Saturday, April 27 to celebrate the written word from 10 a.m – 9 p.m. Readers’ and writers’ needs are all in mind.
“Mobile Writers Guild is taking over the writers’ room all day in shifts, with different writers from different genres,” proprietor Angela Trigg said. “They’re doing advice and critiques, so people can bring a page or two to get critiqued or just ask them a question. Sort of like speed dating but for writing.”
Pairs of authors will inhabit the small workspace for 90-minute blocks starting at 10 a.m. A wealth of genres including romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction and nonfiction are represented, as well as age groups from kids to adults. There’s also marketing and promotion advice.
Details matching authors with time slots are at thehauntedbookshopmobile.com.
“Kicking off the start of our children’s story hour is Karyn Tunks, who wrote several kids books locally,” Trigg said. “She’s going to read some of her favorite picture books to the kids at 11 a.m.”
After reading, Tunks will slip into an apron in another twist for the day as writers serve as honorary employees. There’s no register duty – “I wouldn’t do that to them,” Trigg said, laughing – but they will be bagging and handling other chores.
“I thought it would be a different way to have authors interact with customers and customers would get a kick out of knowing they’re buying books from such-and-such author,” Trigg said.
Mobile historian John Sledge has a shift following Tunks. Trigg was mum about other names participating.
From 7–9 p.m., award-winning legal thriller writer Robert Bradley will hold a book signing for his brand new release “The Final Reckoning. ”
Limited special merchandise such as “literature-based art projects, unique books and collector’s items created for this event only” will be for sale all day. For example, you can pick up “What to Eat with What You Read,” a humorous guide with reading lists, recipes and menu suggestions from authors.
Also available will be a signed print from young adult fiction writer and artist Maggie Stiefvater from her series The Raven Cycle.
There will be a full-color journal with quotes from “On the Come Up” author Angie Thomas. Also on hand, exclusive enamel pins of James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and Toni Morrison.
The cherry atop the merchandise sundae is likely the “Charles Bukowski Uncensored” exclusive vinyl album. Recorded the year before his death, the LP features the legendary author reading from his “Run with the Hunted,” along with additional candid material from the session, including conversations with his wife and producer.
“I don’t have a lot of copies but I did order at least five to 10 copies of some of the different stuff,” Trigg said.
This renewal of Trigg’s family’s fabled business is less than eight months old and she seems pleased so far. Some of the books purchased last year are still in boxes, but the ledgers reflect success.
“I’m bringing in more money than I’m spending and I’m constantly buying, so it’s going well. I just hired my first employee part time. I feel like that’s a good step,” Trigg said.
Of those sales, she thinks about 70 percent have gone to tourists. Though she cited a good local base, proximity to the hotels apparently has paid off.
The writers’ nook residency program has bloomed in unforeseen ways. While the workspace hasn’t been constantly filled – she’s heard downtown parking has been an issue – customers and visitors have filled the niche thanks to a notebook and sticky notes supplied for use.
“People have written flash fiction and left it. People have been writing writers’ prompts on the sticky notes and leaving them. It’s neat seeing how people are using the space, which is good,” Trigg said.
Another odd positive? Children screaming and crying, unwilling to leave the kids’ area.
“I didn’t think by making it fun kids wouldn’t want to leave, so there have been some parenting moments. I’ve had a parent count to three to get them out of the tent and have to keep starting over,” Trigg said.
One repeat family’s youngsters leap from the car on arrival and run for the bookstore, bypassing the pizza place next door.
“And they’re book readers. They’re not coming in just to play with the toys,” Trigg said.
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