The Indie 100 Tour - Atlanta

Paige's note: I'm very happy to bring you a guest blogger, author Marc Fitten. He's got a cool independent bookstore project that I'll let him explain:

I'm going on an extensive book tour in support of my new novel, Valeria's Last Stand. Only, to spice things up, I've decided that while I'm on the road, I will visit 100 independent book stores and blog about what I think makes them unique. It's a road trip, from city to city—100 stores, as long as it takes.

Marc's first stop on the Indie 100 Tour is A Capella Books in Atlanta, GA. He sets the scene for us here.

ATLANTA - A city is never one thing. Atlanta is a corporate town, a college town, a gay town, a black town, a southern town, and a transplant town. The reason it works is because above all else, it’s utilitarian. It’s just so freaking convenient. Have you seen the airport? It’s a metaphor for how the city works.

Of course, traffic sucks. There might be chain pharmacies, chain restaurants, chain discount stores, and a mall within one mile of every citizen, but none of it matters as they usually take forty minutes to reach.

So, there’s your context. Atlanta is a driving city made for strip malls, parking lots, and retail chains. Foot traffic? Ha! Street traffic? Excessive. Two brands of chain bookstores that could serve the general needs of any population? Check. Two brands of chain bookstores, carrying the same items, that have replicated themselves at least ten times a piece in this city. You betcha!

You’d have to be crazy to open an indie anything in Atlanta.

And that’s why I start The Indie 100 here. Indie booksellers here really know something about survival. They’re not fighting out and out hostility so much as sheer disinterest by a general population bombarded with consumer choice.

Indie bookshops – there are a few of them – in Atlanta are lean and scrappy. Their owners have found success in having reflective collections for niche markets.

Frank Reiss was a Classics major at UGA in Athens, GA when Athens was ATHENS!!! He came of age in its glory days alongside REM and the B52s. Bookselling is in his blood. His father is a bookseller in Alabama. Frank opened A Capella in 1989 in what was Atlanta’s only pedestrian-friendly neighborhood at the time, Little 5 Points. He sells both new and used titles. In the last ten years, both chains have opened stores within walking distance. Frank shrugs them off.

Read the rest at Marc's Indie 100 Tour blog! We'll also be featuring more of the tour, so stay tuned.