Well this sucks.
Wordsmiths Books, our favorite independent bookstore here in the Atlanta area, is in trouble. Owner Zach Steele describes the situation at the Wordsmiths site:
The fact is that Wordsmiths Books is, as an idea and in execution, a great bookstore and it can be so much more given the chance. We are not fighting declining sales, nor are we fighting customer apathy, or even a lagging book market. We are fighting only the debt created by starting in the wrong location.
Things appeared to be turning the corner for The ‘smiths gang until The Unfortunate Book Event upset the entire cash flow situation. Now Wordsmiths is making a direct appeal for donations from the Atlanta literary community (and beyond) to help right the ship before it’s too late.
Wordsmiths, in business for less than two years, has been instrumental in helping to create the lit scene that we all deserve here in Atlanta. No one in this town works harder to get authors in front of a crowd than the gang at Wordsmiths. No one. Their readings are always an event that may also feature local bands, national indie musicians, free hairpieces, local chefs, contests, prom backdrops, cupcakes, and – well, you never really know what else may happen. You can rest assured that an evening at a Wordsmiths reading is never going be boring. How good is Wordsmiths programming? New York Times-worthy. Don’t take my word for it. Check out Wordsmiths’ Flickr photostream. Then remind yourself that all of that action is taking place in a bookstore.
It needs to be said: Wordsmiths takes creating and nurturing a local literary scene seriously. For one thing, they’ve helped this blog tremendously. After working together successfully on a few reading events (like Brock Clarke’s reading of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England with musical guests Sealions – presented with co-hosts The Wren’s Nest), Wordsmiths helped to get a Baby Got Books Reading Series off the ground. Check this out:
Baby Got Books Reading Series, Vol. 1: Rob Sheffield author of Love is a Mix Tape with musical guests The Swear – bonus points for helping me to arrange an interview with Rob Sheffield
Baby Got Books Reading Series, Vol. 2: Hilary Jordan author of the Bellweather Prize-winning Mudbound with musical guests The Wayne Fishell Experiment AND Hope for Agoldensummer
Baby Got Books Reading Series, Vol. 3: Steven Hall author of the BGB favorite The Raw Shark Texts with musical guests Blue Screen Love Scene – this may be the high point of the blog, frankly…
Those are events, people. None of those would have happened without Wordsmiths. They have helped to connect me with authors, publishers, and publicity folks that I would not have had access to otherwise. Every once in while a book will show up in my mailbox with a note that says, “Russ from Wordsmiths said I had to mail you a copy of this. Enjoy.” That’s full service.
In addition to bringing top shelf authors to town and helping out area bloggers, Wordsmiths has also helped to get musicians in front of new audiences. For example, I don’t think that I would have heard any of the bands that I just mentioned had they not been playing in the bookstore. How often do you hear that sentence?
Wordsmiths has also brought in some noteworthy national musicians. Last year the critically praised St. Vincent released her CD at Wordsmiths. It went on to be named to many year-end “best of” lists. A few months later, My Brightest Diamond graced the stage (there’s even video proof). Canadian violin-pop virtuoso Final Fantasy also played to an enthusiastic audience at Wordsmiths.
Then there are the poetry groups, play-writing groups, book clubs, storytellers, open mic-ers, civic groups, etc. that Wordsmiths hosts with open arms.
I love what Wordsmiths is all about. I think that they have hit upon the winning formula for selling books in the digital age while also creating a literary community. They’ve made going to the bookstore cool again. Bottom line: there is always something happening (or about to happen) at Wordsmiths. I’m sure that we’ll all survive if Wordsmiths disappears from our landscape – but we’ll all be the poorer for it.
Go hit the Donate! button