"Meet Black Artemis, author of Explicit Content, Picture Me Rollin'! Live in the bookstore now! Come holla at your girl!"
From 12 Noon - 2 PM, I signed books at A&B in Brooklyn. I think that if any Black person in the history of humankind has typed and bound a manuscript, it's in this bookstore! As I sit inside the bookstore by the door and marvel at the amount and array of trade paperbacks on the shelf behind me, a man named Kendall stands outside and hands out fliers, postcards and menus.
Yes, menus. See, next door to A&B is a mom-n-pop restaurant that serves Caribbean fare from arroz con pollo to mac 'n' cheese to escovietch. So while he's trying to coax folks to come into the the bookstore to meet me, he's also selling grub. With the pleasant odor wafting in from next door, it's very hard for me not to abandon my post and get myself some peas and rice! But I stay the course, and in two hours, I'm back on the uptown 2 train.
The hardest thing for me about doing these appearances at bookstores is not walking out with an armload of new books. Especially when I sign at such a well-stocked Black-owned bookstore like A&B. They always have a vast inventory of titles there that you're never going to find at Barnes & Nobles, and I'm not just talking about the self-published books either. If I had a dollar for every time a bookstore chain didn't have a book by an author of color who was published by a major house, I'd have the loot to start my own independent press. I'm not going to front like I don't have any love for the corporate booksellers, but I still want to see the independents thrive. It seems that the best shot of doing that is having a prime location (A&B is a skip away between Brooklyn's municipal center and the Fulton Mall) and to specialize in certain kinds of titles.
Damn, when is New York City going to have a Latino bookstore again? I like Lectorum, but it specalizes in carrying Spanish-language books which is something quite different than carrying books for, by and about Latinos. Hmmm... are any of my joints even available there?