Folded Feature: The Indie Way

Winston Smith Books, located in Auburn, CA, offers a wide selection of new, used, and rare books. Our own J.S. shops there and tells me the “atmosphere is fantastic.” On August 13, 2010 she will be representing Jessie Carty’s book, Paper House, at the store.  I have corresponded with owner, James Van Eaton, for an interview. He is one busy man.

How long has Winston Smith Books been in business?

Five years and some change. We opened our doors in January of 2005.

How frequently do you hold events?

Far more frequently than we used to. While we tried many times to have author signings in the past, public interest just didn’t seem to be there. Last year we hit upon the idea of combining authors with artists on the quarterly Auburn Art Walk to provide a venue for authors with something of a built in audience. Now, expanding on that idea, we’re signing up authors to be on hand in the store when we stay open Friday nights for the three main summer months, hoping that our new extended hours will translate into traffic for the authors.

Is the bookstore staff made up of local writers?

James Van Eaton currently has two self-published novels and does the monthly blog-like newsletter, but as of this time, his business partners Fred and Karen Bernstein are sticking to simply buying books, not penning them.

What is your favorite book of all time?

Tricky question, that. Because while I feel that Fahrenheit 451 is the most important book out there in regard to where and who we are as an American society, I’m not sure I’d call it my “favorite” That title, I feel, must fall to an overlooked science fiction gem called “Replay” by Ken Grimwood. It’s a story about living life over and over again with all the accumulated knowledge of your past lives. It has elements of humor, wonder, love and tragedy and though the style is simple, I find and feel different things each time I read it.

If you could change one thing in the book world what would it be?

I would like to see a shift away from purely escapist fiction and an embracing of quality literature. A frighteningly high percentage of my customers at the bookstore refuse to read anything “hard,” preferring the two dimensional exploits of cardboard heroes in worlds built without imagination or thought to the deeper, finer components of quality books: theme, tone, voice, and style.

Thank you to James for taking the time for the interview. For more information and a picture slide show visit

by Drew DeGennaro

2 Comments on “Folded Feature: The Indie Way

  1. Great e-plug for a wonderful store!!! Keep up the good work James!!! Thanks for being at the GRAPE GATSBY yesterday!


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