I enjoyed the best meal last night. Not because of the food, although it was wonderful. Because of the people. A group of people I'd never met before came together last night in Santa Monica and we talked about books. These were a group of booksellers and I've never had the opportunity to sit and share a meal with a group of people more passionate about books than I am. (And I love books.) The dinner was at The Penthouse Restaurant on the top floor of The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica and our table had a sweeping view of the ocean and the sunset, the mountains, downtown LA, and even, later, the lights of the airplanes landing at LAX. Surroundings aside, it was magical. Many of the booksellers had not had the chance to meet each other before, either, so while we all were a bit nervous at first, soon we all bonded over our common love. Books. People who read books. The unique aura of each bookstore, the unusual customers and special moments that happen at each store, every day.
And, what's so great to discover is that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the bookselling world. Pictured above from left, Alison Reid, Diesel Bookstore; Connie Martinson, Connie Martinson Talks Books; Harley Rouda, Real Living; Julie Swayze and Steve Bowie, Metropolis Books; Roz Helfand, City of West Hollywood Book Fair; Natalie Compagno, Traveler's Bookcase; me; John Evan, Diesel Bookstore; and Shane Pangburn, Barnes & Noble. It's not just authors who are grabbing hold of the power of self-publishing or independent small press publishing and going for it. These booksellers are on the cutting edge, too. They cater to niche markets, they go above and beyond for customers, they grow and change - and they embrace new technology as complimentary to their own businesses.
And they had read HERE, HOME, HOPE - and liked it! You cannot even begin to understand how much that means to me. I feel as if I've made new friends, have several new bookstores to explore and after dining sky-high above Santa Monica, I'm back at my desk but still on cloud nine.