Several authors help Medina business celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Photos by Tom Rivers: Staff of Author’s Note welcomed many customers on Saturday to the store that was decorated in a garden theme as part of Independent Bookstore Day. From left include Olivia Marchese, Erica Caldwell, owner Julie Berry and Kamie Feder, who created the decorations.

Posted 30 April 2023 at 2:04 pm

Author’s Note decorated with butterflies, garden critters for ‘Grow Yourself’ theme

By Ginny Kropf and Tom Rivers

MEDINA – A steady stream of customers filled Author’s Note Bookstore for a celebration of Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday.

Owner and New York Times Bestselling Author Julie Berry chose the theme “A Bookstore is a Garden. Grow Yourself,” and keeping with the theme, the store was lavishly decorated with a botanical theme. Kamie Feder, an art teacher at Albion school, made the decorations, which lined the entire bookstore. She used a big roll of craft paper, paper mache, card stock and paint.

Feder, and store employees Olivia Caldwell and Lincoln Pace spent all day Friday putting up the decorations, Berry said.

The store will continue to be decorated with a garden theme. Kamie Feder said she wanted to create an immersive experience for people inside the store.

The store opened early and the store immediately filled with people, said employee Erica Caldwell. Six authors greeted customers and signed books throughout the day, starting with Edward Ashton of Webster at 9:30 a.m.

Webster writes science fiction, and his book “Mickey 7” is currently being made into a movie by Bong Joon-ho, who won Best Picture for his movie “Parasite.” “Mickey 7” is expected to be released next year and will star Robert Pattinson and Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is known for his role as the “Hulk.”

Howard Balaban of Medina was one of the first in line to get a signed copy of Ashton’s book. He brought daughter Rayna, 8, who also loves to read, and had author Kalynn Bayron of Ithaca sign her book “The Vanquishers.”

This was Bayron’s first visit to Medina, and she spent Friday night at Bent’s Opera House, where she stayed in the “Well Read Room,” with a book theme. She spoke to Medina seventh-graders on Friday.

The first to meet Bayron was Caitlyn Bower of Grand Island, who said Bayron was her favorite author.

“The instant I saw she was going to be in Medina, I told my husband Kevin we had to go there,” Caitlyn said. “I had a choice to go clothes shopping or come here. I’ve read all her books.”

Bower said she likes to seek out independent book stores, and this was the first time she has been to Medina.

Julie Berry, center, joins award-winning Buffalo author Dee Romito, left, and New York Times best-selling author Kalynn Bayron from Ithaca. They greeted people at Author’s Note, and signed books and answered questions.

Thomas and Monica Finnigen came from Attica to check out the books and meet the authors. Monica works at the Attica Library and said she and her husband come to Author’s Note once a year. She is in charge of the children’s storytelling at Attica Library, so likes to check out the children’s books.

Lindsey Buck is a reading specialist at Orchard Park Middle School and regularly visits Author’s Note.

“I love this store,” Buck said. “It’s my favorite and Kalynn and Julie are two of my favorite authors. I was so excited to hear Kalynn was going to be here today.”

The authors featured on Saturday said they want to support independent book sellers who are critical to helping spread the word about their books and make them available to the public.

“Independent book stores are the life blood of our communities,” Bayron said. “These bookstores are passionate about getting the books into the hands of the community.”

Peggy Thomas of Middleport has written several books, and tries to highlight agricultural heroes. She holds a copy of “Lincoln Clears a Path” which tells Lincoln’s agricultural legacy. The book “Hero for the Hungry” details the life of Norman Borlaug, a crop innovator who has boosted yields and made some plants more disease resistant.

She said big box stores and online sellers such as Amazon are threat to the smaller independent stores.

“But here it is a much more personal experience,” she said about the independent stores. “You can meet with people at a more personal level.”

Another writer, Dee Romito of Buffalo, was happy to meet with readers and sign books at Author’s Note. She has been a published author for seven years and is grateful for the independent stores that have featured her books.

“They’re a very knowledgeable group,” she said about the independent stores and their staffs. “They know what’s selling and they know their customers. We need to support them.”

Peggy Thomas of Middleport signed her books, including the newest, Hero for the Hungry: The Life and Work of Norman Borlaug. She writes about the 20th-century American agriculture scientist whose innovations in crop varieties founded the Green Revolution and fed hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

Thomas tries to highlights agricultural innovators, and she there “are so many amazing stories” in farming.

As a book customer, she prefers the independent stores and is grateful for Author’s Note, one of the few independent books tores between Buffalo and Rochester.

“This has been my local book store,” she said. “I’ve been coming here for 20 years.”

Darlene Baker of Lockport also signed copies of her books on Saturday. The Middleport native was a professional truck driver for three years, taking products to all 48 continental states and throughout much of Canada. She sets her novels with the main character a female truck driver. She wants readers to know what that career is like from a woman’s perspective.

She kept 13 journals when she was a truck driver, and fills her novels with some of those details.

“It was good money,” she said. “I often made $2,000 a week with other perks. But if you want to be home with your family for Christmas, you can’t count on it. You might be sleeping in a recliner in Denver.”

Julie Berry said she and her staff were overwhelmed by the many customers who came into the store on Saturday, and their words of encouragement.

“All of us at Author’s Note are overcome with gratitude for the incredible outpouring of support we felt on Saturday,” Berry said. “Book lovers traveled from far to join us, as did our authors, and the community turned out in force to welcome them.”

She said they were especially grateful to authors Kalynn Bayron, Edward Ashton, Dee Romito, Peggy Thomas, Darlene Baker and Randall Reese for sharing their time and enthusiasm so generously.

“Many of them commented on what a remarkable turnout and energy they felt from our customers,” Berry said. “It isn’t typical, but that’s Medina for you. Customers raved about what a delightful welcoming place Author’s Note is, and that warms my heart, because that’s what we want Author’s Note to be. It truly is a team effort to pull off a celebration like this one, and I can’t say enough about what a gift it is to have Erica Caldwell, Olivia Marchese and Kamie Feder as part of our Author’s Note family. I must give a special shout-out to Kamie for all the time and love she poured into our gorgeous garden-themed decorations. She’s a gem.”

Kamie Feder passed up cupcakes to people outside Author’s Note who were walking Main Street on Saturday. Feder, an art teacher at Albion school and part-time employee at Author’s Note, made a paper mache butterfly and other garden creatures for the celebration.