Harleysville Books Bash – 18 Authors and Some Wine

Harleysville Books in Harleysville, PA is one of those special independent bookstores that are so dear to my heart.  A treasure of a shop filled with carefully selected titles, and that features a continuing series of great events. At the heart of it all is owner Shelly Plumb, a person who loves books and who also loves to support local authors!  To show her support, each year Shelly has been throwing an author reception, highlighting writers from the region.  Exceptionally cool.

This year you can mingle with 18 published authors at the Third Annual Author Reception, being held on Thursday, March 11th from 6-8 p.m. at Harleysville Books. The store is located at 674 Main Street, Salford Square in Harleysville.  The reception, which is free and open to the public, features something for everyone with food, fun and authors of titles ranging from picture books, to young adult novels, to adult fiction and nonfiction.  And yes, for those who are of age, there will be wine provided by Country Creek Winery.

The informal gathering is full of opportunities for visitors to mingle and chat with all of the authors present. Among the featured authors are a number of members from the Philly Liars Club,  a group of critically acclaimed professional writers who provide events to support libraries, bookstores, literacy, and a love of books. I’m VERY proud to be a member.

Liars Club authors at the Harleysville Books event include New York Times bestseller Sara Shepard (The Pretty Little Liars series, HarperTeen, and The Visibles, Free Press), young adult author Marie Lamba…that’s me…(What I Meant…, Random House), New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, St. Martin’s Griffin, and The Wolfman, Tor), best selling mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), lauded contemporary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press), debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), and historian, actor and storyteller Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing).

Visitors to the reception can also meet picture book authors and illustrators including Lindsay Barrett George (Alfred Digs, Greenwillow), Rob and Lisa Papp (P is for Princess, Sleeping Bear Press), and Mara Rockliff (Busiest Street in Town, Knopf). Children’s fiction authors will include:  2010 Scott O’Dell prizewinner Matt Phelan (Storm in the Barn, Candlewick), and Michael Townsend (Kit Feeny Graphic Novel Series, Knopf). Young adult authors include debut novelists Cyn Balog (Fairy Tale, Delacorte), Josh Berk (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, Knopf) and Jennifer Hubbard (The Secret Year, Viking). Wonderful debut horror novelist C.G. Bauer (Scars on the Face of God) has just been added to this event, and also on hand will be author MJ Ticcino (Valley Forge).  I’m happy to say that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting most of these authors before, and they are all really nice.  Interested in asking them about writing? About the author’s life? About their books? They’ll all be happy to talk.

For more information about the Third Annual Author Reception, or to reserve a copy of any of the featured author’s books in advance, contact Harleysville Books at 215-256-9311.

Wellington Square Bookshop: a touch of class, a dash of whimsy

Philly Liars Club authors!

Once again, the Philly Liars Club is throwing a Truth Tour party to raise awareness of independent bookstores, and this one is just in time for the holidays!  This bash, “Liars Tell the Truth about Wellington Square Bookshop,” is at the bookstore, located in the Eagleville development at 543 Wellington Square, in Exton on Saturday, December 5th from noon-2 p.m. The festivities are free and open to the public, and include goodies, our famed Truth or Lie trivia game, and prizes including autographed book bags and signed books.  Plus candy canes…

Here are the Liars who will be there: Bram Stoker award winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s), fantasy author Gregory Frost (Shadowbridge, and Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House), young adult author Marie Lamba…me… (What I Meant…, Random House), contemporary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press/Simon and Schuster), debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series), mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), mystery author Jon McGoran who writes as D.H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Berkley Books), and social media marketing consultant, writer and lecturer Don Lafferty.

And, once again, our mission is clear: Support indendent bookstores!  We hate seeing online retailers and big chain bookstores squeeze out indies all over the country.  Can you imagine your town without any bookstore at all? Well, it’s happening everywhere.  So this holiday season, we are asking everyone to do gift shopping at your wonderful local indie!   They are special and unique.

Cozy seating at Wellington Square Bookshop

As soon as you step into Wellington Square Bookshop, you know it’s unique.  Maybe it’s the fountain, or the tin ceilings, or the pillars that look like they’ve been taken from an ancient Indian palace. The store, which was originally located a few doors down in an 800 sq ft space, just relocated to its current location this past August. It now occupies a 3700 sq ft space, and includes an elegant gourmet coffee shop with goodies from Delightful Desserts of West Chester.

And of course there are the books: new titles, used titles, first editions and rare books. “We are definitely NOT a Barnes and Noble,” says Jolie Miao, who works at the store. The shop refuses to carry Oprah’s book club picks or Twilight, but here you will find many a treasured titled you won’t easily find elsewhere. They also offer free book appraisal services to anyone who asks. In addition, the store carries gift items including candles, book lights, notebooks and packaged coffees. And for the undecided holiday shopper, there are gift cards.

Great coffees and snacks...I taste-tested 'em to be sure

The differences from the chain bookstores run deeper than the store’s beautiful architecture and eclectic selection of books. “We are chill people and we like to have fun,” says Miao.  “We all read voraciously in our free time, and love to discuss books over a cup of coffee with a customer! As an independent bookstore, we really can get to know our customers.” This all translates into great service. They can personally recommend books to people, and have been known to call customers when that new book from a favorite author finally arrives or gets announced in a press release. “We love to meet bookies who share our passion,” Miao says.  “We’re truly in it for the books first.”

The community is starting to notice, and is taking part in events at the store including author signings, a weekly story time, and two book clubs.  The bookstore also welcomes outside book clubs to hold their meetings in the shop. And to sweeten the deal, Wellington Square Bookshop will even give these clubs free coffee and pastries, along with 20% off their club’s book purchases.

“This store is a gem,” says author Dennis Tafoya, who urges people to think of independent bookstores first before going to that online retailer or chain store. “By shopping at independents for your holiday purchases, you’ll help ensure that unique stores like Wellington Square Bookshop will be here for us for years to come.”

Remember, we all can make a huge difference here.  Browse at all of those little shops.  Visit their online sites and order that way.  Buy indie bookstore gift cards.  Make a difference!