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A Saturday for Indies First

A year ago, author Sherman Alexie put forward a great idea to promote independent bookstores. He suggested that writers volunteer to work in local stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day that already had become known as Small Business Saturday, thanks to a vigorous campaign begun several years earlier by American Express. It didn’t take long for Alexie’s appeal to resonate with hundreds of authors, who showed up in 2013 as guest booksellers in stores across the country, giving birth to what’s been dubbed the Indies First movement.

In the run-up to this holiday season, bestselling author Neil Gaiman and musician-author Amanda Palmer have published an open letter urging even more authors to go to local bookstores and help out on Small Business Saturday. “Now is your chance to persuade people that they need your books—especially if you’ve signed them—and your friends’ books, and books you’ve always loved that, if widely read, would make the world a better place,” their letter said. “It will be, we promise you, a much more sociable day than the ones you spend staring at a blank screen or a white sheet of paper, communing with imaginary people and suchlike.”

A number of Washington area writers have answered the appeal and will be joining us at Politics & Prose on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 29, to moonlight as booksellers. We encourage customers to come by the store and ask a participating author to help look for a book or recommend a favorite work as a gift for a relative or friend. Each author will be on-hand for a two-hour period. On the main floor, you’ll find:

10 a.m. to noon – Cathy Barrow
(Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry)
Noon  to 2 p.m. – David Baldacci
(The Escape)
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Azar Nafisi 
(The Republic of Imagination)
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Dinaw Mengestu
(All Our Names)
6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Howard Norman
(Next Life Might Be Kinder)

And in the Children and Teens Department:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Jessica Spotswood
(The Cahill Chronicles)
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Debbie Levy
(We Shall Overcome)
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Katherine Marsh
(Jepp, Who Defied the Stars)
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Rashin Kheiriyeh
(There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly)

Hope you’ll join us. Along with these celebrated authors, it’s anyone’s guess who else might decide to visit the store. On Small Business Saturday last year, President Obama made a surprise appearance at P&P to do a little holiday book shopping of his own.

--Brad and Lissa