Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sam Barry, marketing manager of Book Passage talks about his resemblance to Brad Pitt, building community and so much more

Book Passage is truly one of the great indies, and I was thrilled to be able to talk to Sam Berry, who is as hilarious as he's knowledgeable. So thank you, Sam, and thank you Book Passage.

I think I speak for my fellow writers when I ask, what things can we authors do to make things easier for you when we read or do events? What's the best thing an author ever did? And without naming names, what might be something we should all never, ever even think of doing?

  • When appearing at a bookstore the primary job of the author is to show up for your event on time, prepared and willing to do your level best to charm your audience. And remember, the bookstore employees are an important part of your audience, because they can talk you up and hand sell your books.
  • There are many great things authors have done, but your question begs for a specific answer, so here goes: Book Passage’s General Manager Calvin Crosby has never forgotten the time when author Lisa See bought every employee in the store a copy of her book.
  • Never, ever give away the ending of your mystery. Yes, it’s true: a mystery writer once read the end of his book, which included the solution to the mystery.

You offer writers' salons, classes, and all kinds of wonderful things that give your store a real community feel. Can you talk a bit about the California Writers Club and the other classes? What's next up for Book Passage?

Community is the right word. I am amazed at all the offerings at both stores: literary luncheons, book club meetings, and of course the extraordinary array of author events, put together by Event Director Karen West; the writing, art, culture, and language classes; and the events for children and teens. On October 12 the Marin School of the Arts celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Corte Madera store. There was music, performing, readings, and a general party atmosphere happening all around the store—it was a very fun night.

The California Writers Club Marin Branch has been meeting at the store since 1999 and is a perfect example of the community nature of Book Passage. On October 28 the California Writers Club is presenting “Writing Groups: Lessons from North 24th Writers,” which is open to non-members as well as members. CWC is an excellent resource for professionals or aspiring writers.Every day there’s something great going on in our two locations, but we also host events outside the stores. 

On November 4th Tom Douglas, who was named 2012’s “Outstanding Restauranteur” by the James Beard Foundation, will be at the Left Bank restaurant in Larkspur as part of our Cooks with Books series. And looking down the road, next summer we have the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference in June, the Mystery Writers Conference in July, and the Travel Writers and Photographers Conference in August.

You've been around for thirty years--and actually, my husband, Jeff Tamarkin, read at your store ten years or so ago! (Great experience.) You also have two stores. So, do each have their own personality?

Being at the Corte Madera store is really like walking around in a village of smart, nice people who love books. The San Francisco Ferry Building store has more of a traditional retail feel because the customer base is a mix of commuters, local residents, adults and families, and tourists. But there are great events and a strong sense of community at the Ferry Building store as well, which I attribute to store manager Ama Wertz and her fabulous staff.

What three books are you wildly suggesting that everyone read?

  • Sutton, by Pulitzer Prize-winner J.R. Moehringer (A Book Passage Signed First-Edition Club pick)
  • The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
  • A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers

What's obsessing you now, and why?

  • Finding time to read and write. I know, it’s ridiculous, I work in a bookstore—but there really isn’t enough time. I found it was the same when I worked for HarperCollins.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

  • Yes, people do routinely mistake me for Brad Pitt. It’s ​my cross to bear.
Sam Barry, Marketing Director
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 927-0960, ext. 256


Dentist Seo said...

The Mystery Writers Conference in July, and the Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.
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