Still mourning the closing of Dutton’s Bookstore earlier this year, last week I was trying to find a local store through which I could order a couple of debut story collections from friends of mine (more on that later), both out on small presses. Book Soup in West Hollywood is a fine bookstore (I bought a few books there yesterday), but they don’t do much with small presses. So I was thrilled to see how thorough the buyer at Skylight Books in Los Feliz was in trying to track down these books.
I was even more thrilled to find out about the Skylight Literary Salon, a monthly gathering the third Saturday of the month at 4pm (complete with wine & cheese) where staff members present their favorite finds among the small presses. Typically three presses are showcased; sometimes an author or editor stops by. This month’s Salon (on the fourth Saturday because of the holiday) features PM Press, Soft Skull Press, and St. George Press (whose founding editor, Alex Rose, has a story in the new Ploughshares).
Skylight Manager Monica Carter (whose own blog, Salonica, focuses on international literature) has been happy to see the turn-out grow each month: from a dozen earlier in the year to 25 last month. Moreover, as featured small press titles are designated as staff picks, they begin to sell, and small press ordering has gone up. She feels it’s incumbent upon independent bookstores to “differentiate from what Amazon and the chains have to offer,” to be “champions for small presses.” (As a former owner of a small bookstore, I can attest it takes real commitment to walk that talk: it’s so much easier to stick with ordering from the big distributors who by-pass the small presses.) Her own personal finds of late include: A Happy Man and Other Stories by Axel Thormahlen (Les Figues Press) and I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou (Dalkey Archive Press).
So support small presses and a great independent bookstore, and maybe find a new writer to get excited about: Saturday, September 27, 4pm, Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles. (For more info contact monica[at]skylightbooks[dot]com)