Lena Dunham Named Spokesperson for Indies First

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Author/director to be bookseller for a day on November 26

The American Booksellers Association today announced Lena Dunham as the 2016 official spokesperson for Indies First, the national campaign of activities and events in support of independent bookstores, which takes place on Small Business Saturday, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Dunham is the bestselling author of Not That Kind of Girl (Random House, 2015) and creator and star of the critically acclaimed HBO series Girls, for which she also serves as executive producer, writer, and director. Dunham has also written and directed two feature-length films (including Tiny Furniture in 2010) and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Earlier this year, Random House announced a new publishing imprint called LENNY, which will be a home for the kinds of exciting, emerging voices — in fiction and nonfiction — that Dunham and Jenni Konner are already attracting and publishing so successfully in their feminist newsletter of the same name.

On Small Business Saturday (November 26) — a day dedicated to supporting the local businesses that help create jobs, boost the economy, and preserve neighborhoods — independent bookstores will host authors as honorary booksellers to celebrate Indies First, to help handsell their favorite titles, sign books, give readings, and more.

In a letter (linked here and included below), Dunham calls upon readers and her fellow authors to join in her support of independent bookstores. She urges authors to link to a local indie bookstore for book sales and to sign up to be booksellers at their favorite independent bookshops on November 26. Dunham, who will spend Indies First day in Los Angeles at Book Soup, says: “I wouldn’t be who I am without independent bookstores… [they] are at once cozy and mysterious, comforting and strange. The universal feeling of making a weird and wonderful discovery is something you can count on in any indie across the country, from Book Soup in LA to Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY.”

Indies First was created by author Sherman Alexie in 2013; other authors who have spearheaded the campaign include Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), and Cheryl Strayed. Fans can follow Indies First on Facebook and Twitter and via the hashtag #IndiesFirst, as well as search for store events nationwide on IndieBound.org. Inquiries about Indies First can be directed to indiesfirst@bookweb.org.

Booksellers are encouraged to invite their favorite local authors or illustrators to come to their stores for Indies First on Small Business Saturday and then add the event details to the Store Indies First Activity Registry so that it can be publicized on the Indies First map on IndieBound.org. Stores are also encouraged to promote their events on their websites and in their newsletters and social media postings (#IndiesFirst).

In support of independent bookstores and Indies First, publishers are offering a variety of special promotions. ABA members can see those special offers here. In addition, ABA will be sending stores an Indies First promotional kit (courtesy of Penguin Random House), including five Indie First bags, Indies First/Shop Small co-branded bookmarks, and balloons to use at their events on Small Business Saturday.

Authors and illustrators who would like to participate in Indies First are encouraged to reach out to their favorite local indie bookstores, or they can indicate their willingness to participate by signing up on the Indies First Author & Illustrator Registry.

September 2016


Photo of Lena Dunham courtesy of HBO
Lena Dunham, photo courtesy of HBO

I wouldn’t be who I am without independent bookstores. It might seem bizarre to make a commercial enterprise a cornerstone of your identity, so let me explain. Indie bookstores are like college and a nightclub combined — places for learning, community-building, and falling in love with strangers. Every time I go to McNally Jackson in NYC, I’m a heartbeat away from proposing marriage to at least eight different shoppers, convinced that a shared love of Diana Athill and an endless supply of buttered scones from the store’s cafe are all we’ll need for a beautiful life together. They’re at once cozy and mysterious, comforting and strange. The universal feeling of making a weird and wonderful discovery is something you can count on in any indie across the country, from Book Soup in LA to Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY. The community you find in these stores is unique because it’s about feeling seen in the most surprising of places. It’s the same moment of recognition which makes a good book great. It’s when you suddenly catch in somebody else — a bookseller, a shopper, or visiting author — some lovely, secret thought, or dream, or feeling that you were sure was yours alone. Independent bookstores let us find one another. That’s something worth celebrating.

In support of these wonderful bookstores, I’ll be joining with the American Booksellers Association for Indies First 2016. Even though my professional comfort zone tends to extend no further than my own bed and personal stash of carbohydrates, I’ll be emerging from under my comforter to hit the floor of Book Soup in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 26, to join the bookselling fun. I strongly encourage everyone to join me in support of independent bookstores, putting Indies First on November 26!

It couldn’t be simpler: Readers can find a local independent bookstore here: indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder. Fellow authors: choose a local independent bookstore and offer your services for Indies First Day as a guest bookseller in one of hundreds of independent bookstores across the country holding events. Add your name to the list of interested authors here: bookweb.org/indiesfirstauthors. To show your support year-round, here’s how to link to indie bookstores on your website: indiebound.org/spread-word.

With love and gratitude,

Lena Dunham