New documentary aims to support independent bookstores

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — An Indiana man who was trying to sell a self-published novel ended up making a documentary about the plight of independent bookstores. Those stores have been facing overwhelming competition from mega booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

But Mason Engel said as tried the gain support from the indie booksellers for his book, being sold on Amazon, he realized something important.

“I realized what I was doing–I was trying to convince booksellers to promote a product to promote my book that was available only through Amazon,” said Engel.

So, he switched his focus and made a documentary focusing on the plight of independent bookstores. ‘The Bookstour’ was the result of his tour of indie booksellers across the southeast.
One of the places Engel’s stopped on his tour of indie bookstores was right here at Page and Palette bookstore in Fairhope.

Owner Karin Wilson says big-box stores and Amazon had already chopped the sales of independent bookstores globally. Then came the covid pandemic.

“We were shortening our hours and days open and we’re not going to order as much, we’re going to reduce our inventory–it was very difficult,” said Wilson.

“Our core program is emergency financial assistance,” said Kit Mundus Steinaway. She is with BINC–the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Engel says all of the money raised by his documentary is going to the foundation to help support independent booksellers.

“If a bookseller falls on hard times, has unexpected medical expenses, a natural disaster in their area—BINC is who they turn to,” said Engel.

The Bookstour documentary is available for pre-order until July 7th. A virtual premiere is planned for mid-July. You’ll find all of the information to order and watch here.

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