The fantasy writer George RR Martin, creator of Game of Thrones, is the latest author to open their own bookstore. The writer has opened a bookshop, Beastly Beasts, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, next door to the Jean Cocteau Cinema which he bought in 2013 and which he uses as an arts venue. He decided to open the store because he was already running very successful events and signing sessions with writers in the cinema but needed more space.
The shop specialises in fantasy writers and Martin wrote on his blog. “[We have hosted] dozens of terrific, award-winning, bestselling writers. All of them have signed stock for us. The only problem was the Jean Cocteau lobby was far too small for us to display all of these wonderful autographed books. With that in mind … we opened our own bookshop right next to the theatre … Do come by and visit us the next time you come to the Land of Enchantment. Beastly Books. Hear us roar!”
In recent years a number of authors have opened bookstores in the US. Ann Patchett opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee in 2011; YA writer Judy Blume opened a small non-profit bookshop in Key West, Florida in 2016; Jeff Kinney, creator of the very successful Wimpy Kid titles opened An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts in 2015; and Louise Erdrich owns Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. In 2012 Garrison Keillor opened Common Good Books in St Paul, Minnesota, though he sold the shop earlier this year.
Keillor summed up the connection between writers and bookstores like this: “Local bookstores launched my first book 40 years ago and I am still grateful. Writers are independents so we feel a kinship with independent bookstores. It’s a romantic venture, like the act of writing itself, and no matter how discouraging the news on any given day, a person is bucked-up by the fact that writers are still at work and bookstores stay open.”
In the US, the American Booksellers Association, has noted that independents have grown by 5% in the last year, part of a reaction to some of the negative publicity surrounding Amazon coupled with the growth of localism and a ‘greener’ way of shopping.