Pen to print in the local area: including books stores, a publisher and an authors society
Members of the Pound Ridge Authors Society gather at Booksy Galore, an indie bookseller in Scotts Corners.
When one thinks of the literary mecca, Manhattan leaps to mind—marquee bookstores, publishing deals, bestsellers—right? Well, that’s only part of the story. Just around the bend from Bedford’s Village Green, literary micro-communities are thriving.
In Katonah, café culture has blended with great books for the perfect brew. At Little Joe’s Coffee & Books, Gretchen Menzies and her husband, Peter, serve up 8,000 titles with well-prepared fare.
“Those who tended to focus on our coffee and snacks menu in the past, now are buying our books, trusting our recommendations,” Gretchen observes. So if you like Little Joe’s scones, chances are their story time will keep your children happy, too. It’s about ambiance—and knowhow.
“People love it,” she continues. “It’s got a warm and wonderful feel. We have always loved books and used books to talk to our kids about important subjects.”
Not too far from Little Joe’s is a publisher of international nonfiction. Headquartered in a private home, BlueBridge Books has, in its ten years, produced forty titles spanning culture, history, nature, science, inspiration, and self-help. Owner Jan-Erik Guerth opted to move his business from Manhattan four years ago, and go local to produce titles in a “hub-and-spoke system” with remote staff.
“We consciously try to make printed books that people love to hold and have with them,” Guerth says. “Katonah is a stimulating environment. I have peace and quiet and can focus on my work here.”
A recent BlueBridge success is Shlomo Avineri’s “Herzl’s Vision,” a finalist for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award. “I am very happy,” Guerth continues, “if people pick up a BlueBridge book and say, ‘It’s not just on a fascinating subject, but it also looks great.’ It [pleases me] if readers share that sense of the beauty of a book.”
Perhaps nowhere is a book in hand more appreciated than at Pound Ridge’s indie bookshop, Booksy Galore, a converted garage from which Susan Williamson has sold used and new titles since 2013. Of late, Williamson has expanded with Instagram sales and someday may even feature a small, in-house press. For the owner, it’s a challenge—and privilege.
“I’m lucky,” Williamson says. “This community supports a bookstore, and they know how important it is to have a cultural space—to talk about art, and for writers and artists to meet each other.”
The shop’s new weekly book club and social media channels even draw customers from beyond the area.
Last year, local author Paula Cappa visited and arranged a signing for her novel, “Dazzling Darkness.” The results were encouraging.
“It was standing room only,” Williamson recalls. Cappa is a member and co-chair of the Pound Ridge Authors Society (PRAS), a group of 27 fiction and nonfiction authors.
“We get together,” Cappa explains, “and talk about the business of being authors—book reviews, literary agents, Amazon—what authors need to know.”
The Pound Ridge Library sponsors the monthly meetings, and its support has led PRAS membership to expand and draw from all over Westchester.
“Today, as authors, they have to be something of a businessperson,” says Society co-chair and librarian, Marilyn Tinter. “Everyone’s sharing these ideas within the Society to help each other. The engagement and enthusiasm of the authors really help.”
Recently, PRAS posted “READ LOCAL” signs in the area to promote the Society’s anniversary and its authors’ published works. Such creativity is particularly fitting, historically, too, as Tinter notes.
“Pound Ridge started out, in a way, as an artists’ colony,” Tinter says. “But no matter the technology, that really is the basis: authors and writing. This is all part of the library’s role in the community.”
So reading truly is local—and so is writing—especially just outside your door.