WICHITA, Kan. — Bookstores from coast-to-coast will mark “Independent Bookstore Day” on Saturday, May 2. More than 400 retailers from Alaska to Maine will celebrate their value to their communities with author readings, special sales, and other activities.
While a national event is a great idea, author Grant Overstake says book-lovers in his hometown can celebrate Independent Bookstore Day every day, thanks to the wonderful people at Watermark Books and Cafe.
Watermark Books and Cafe, founded in 1977, is a homegrown, literary, independent bookstore and restaurant located at the corner of Douglas and Oliver in the College Hill neighborhood of Wichita. The store will participate in the national event from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. with author visits, new books and art prints for sale. (Click for full schedule).
Owner Sarah Bagby is passionate about healthy communities and the state of the publishing industry. She reviews books for Watermark’s newsletter and industry publications, and for the local NPR affiliate KMUW. She also serves on the American Booksellers Association Board of Directors and is a past president of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. Most recently, Bagby was selected to serve as a fiction judge for the 2015 National Book Awards.
Through the years, Bagby has invited an untold number of great authors to Wichita. Recent visitors include Stephen King, Daniel Handler (Limony Snicket), and Lisa See. Sue Monk Kidd is coming May 14, and Elizabeth Gilbert will be here in the fall.
One famous author could have walked to her book reading at Watermark Books. College Hill resident Clare Vanderpool stunned the literary world when her first book, Moon Over Manifest, won the 2011 Newbery Medal, becoming the first debut author to achieve the feat in thirty years. That’s one reason why Bagby makes room for local authors on her shelves.
“We love local authors,” Bagby said. “Our bookstore thrives on discovering new authors in the area because they create a vibrant culture to the whole literary culture of Wichita. The stories to be told by local authors are important to all readers in Wichita. Big publishers tend to overlook settings such as Kansas and the Midwest. And authors, sometimes, too.”
An overflow crowd gathered at Watermark Books on April 11th, 2013, to hear Overstake read from his then newly published novel. Since then, the book has spent several weeks on Watermark’s Bestseller List, ranking as high as No. 3.
“Watermark Books has been a great friend to Maggie and me from the first day until now,” Overstake said. “Sarah’s support for local authors is just phenomenal. Her store is the literary heart and soul of Wichita.”
The audiobook version of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon arrived at Watermark Books just in time for the Independent Bookstore Day celebration. Narrated by Tavia Gilbert and distributed by Blackstone Audio, the title can also be ordered and downloaded through the bookstore’s online portal.