Pudd'nhead Books is Gett'n Some Love
Last Friday, the online booksellers' newsletter Shelf Awareness ran a nice profile of the store and its owner, Nikki Furrer.
Like the Mark Twain character for whom the store is named, Furrer is a non-practicing lawyer who previously worked for a literary agency in New York before deciding to open up her bookstore here in St. Louis.
Furrer chose Webster over Brooklyn because, as she told Shelf Awareness, "It's vital to a bookseller to understand their neighborhood and the mindset, perspective and outlook of their customers, and I understand people more here."
Much of Pudd'nhead's inventory is based on customer requests.
"What people come in and ask for is really what I focus on more than what's in a catalogue," said Furrer. An example is One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus, which was published more than a decade ago. The book was not stocked at the store until "somebody came in and asked for it," said Furrer. "Now we're going through stacks of them."Furrer has also been heavily promoting a novel she loves, Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr., and says she has sold 125 copies since June.
In a separate interview with The Enchanted Inkpot, a blog that specializes in children's and young adult fantasy, Melissa Posten who runs Pudd'nhead's children's department, talks about the importance of independent bookstores like Pudd'nhead (and, okay, Left Bank and Subterranean):
The indies are the only thing standing between Barnes and Noble and Amazon having full control of the publishing industry. These giant corporations already make far too many decisions about what we get to read, and what scares me the most is that the majority of people don't understand that. B&N in particular has a scary amount of power. They dictate what covers should look like (by refusing to buy a book unless they get what they want). Their choice whether to buy a book or not can destroy an author's career - get sequels cancelled, contracts nullified....
And Amazon...well, I think before long it will be Amazon and the indies. People are too spoiled by sitting in their houses and clicking to get things. What I don't think they realize is that once Amazon has eaten everything in their path, those awesome prices they're enjoying? History....
So that's a long way of saying something simple: I think indie booksellers help preserve the integrity of publishing.