I bring weird people to weird people. What do you do?
"Hi, I'm Katelyn. I'm the events coordinator here at the Jersey City store. Thank you all for joining us tonight. You coming out to events like this means we can continue to host events like this. So, thank you."
That's how I begin each event that we host in our lovely store in Jersey City. I mean that last part. I can't even explain why events are so important to small, indie bookstores but believe me they are, and we thank you for coming out. They set the tone and vibe of a store because they represent what is most important to the booksellers. They reflect the choices that the buyers are making and then expand on them in reaction to community needs or interests.
I've been at this job for nearly a year and it's been so fascinating to learn the job while having the job. I had a vague notion of what event planning meant in a bookstore. I had watched the other coordinators before me work trying to learn whatever I could. I tried to go to lots of events in NYC to learn from other stores as well. I hope I bring interesting events to Jersey City because I do love hosting them. As the host I get a chance to talk to both the author and the attendees. It's a joy to hear them interacting with one another as the mutual admiration is generally felt among them. The picture above is a compilation of my favorite events from the past year. They all happened in the last 3 months. And that's not to say that the prior 7 were terrible but I'm getting better at selecting and promoting my events.
Mark Leyner's reading for his latest bizarre novel, Gone with the Mind, was my favorite. It was well attended by excited, longtime readers of Leyner. Plus, his wife, who he writes about often, was in attendance as he is from Jersey City. When I got the chance to host Robert Repino for an event for the paperback of one of my favorite books, Mort(e), I was elated. We had him in conversation with Jill Pantozzi of the website The Nerdy Bird. They talked about Robert's obsession for campy sci-fi movies and the audience laughed along happily. When we had Bonnie McFarlane to the store with her friend Emily Tarver to talk about Bonnie's memoir, You're Better Than Me, it attracted a good group of new patrons to the store. They both have a little star power and so they brought their fans out to hear about Bonnie's odd upbringing. I'm not normally a big fan of the kid's events but George O'Connor's enthusiasm for his subject and for the kids that attended was inspiring. He was promoting the most recent in his Olympian series, Apollo: The Brilliant One. He had the kids drawing and dancing on a chilly Sunday afternoon. It was impressive.
The most exciting event so far was certainly our paperback launch for Gumption with Nick Offerman. We hosted him in conversation with Patrick Wilson at the historic Loew's Jersey Theatre. It was a surreal evening. He was the kindest, smartest human I've met in a long time. He made sure to ask all 850 people who attended what their names were. It was impressive. He stayed well into the night so that everyone that wanted one could get his signature. He earnestly enjoyed interacting with the people who were there to support him. Again, I was inspired by an author's enthusiasm for his fans. We posted a short clip to our YouTube channel that you can watch here. It was a funny, heartwarming conversation that I think a lot of people will remember fondly for their whole lives. Awesome to be a part of that for so many people.