We Tried to “Think Local” and You’ll Never Guess What We Found!
When we created Master & Fool, publishing books written by Ann Arbor authors, we started by researching the local author scene. No doubt you know that Ann Arbor is one of the most well-educated, “bookish” towns in the US, so you might be as surprised as we were at what we found. In spite of being a liberal/progressive community that focuses a lot of attention on “thinking local,” there’s a surprising shortage of venues specifically devoted to local authors.
Only One “Ann Arbor” Bookstore?
We were shocked to learn that only one local bookstore (which is actually a mixed retail operation, not a dedicated book store) has a clearly stated policy for helping Ann Arbor authors get their titles on the shelves. And even in this store, there is no clearly defined section specifically for locally written or published books! Several other local bookstores highlight books about Ann Arbor, but surprisingly don’t dedicate a display area to local authors. This seems like a lost opportunity, considering the chance for increased foot traffic and the community’s otherwise pervasive focus on local and small business.
At Least There Are the Book Fairs
Ann Arbor does a much better job promoting local authors and books when it comes to book fairs. There are two well-established fairs, the Ann Arbor Book Festival, and the Kerrytown Bookfest. There’s also the Antiquarian Book Fair, which is an exceptional event for book collectors and dealers, but is not focused on Ann Arbor authors. The first two fairs do a great job of promoting reading, writing, and literacy, and bring a fair number of local authors into the process, but they are annual events rather than ongoing venues for selling books.
There’s Hope Online
Online, the view is slightly more encouraging. Rounding up books by local authors in one place, and remaining available year ’round, LocalWiki.org has a nice list compiled by Ann Arbor resident Edward Vielmetti. Our local library has a fairly extensive list as well. Neither of these make it easy to actually learn about and BUY the books, however, and neither is especially exhaustive in its selection. Which is why, as we set out to make it easier for readers to find and purchase books by Ann Arbor authors and publishers, we decided to create a book store that allows you to peruse the books, and if you find titles you like, buy them from Amazon.