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In today’s digitized, attention-deficit world, guerilla booksellers must bring intrepid commitment to their work, infiltrating events where bespectacled conspirators are likely to congregate.
“People ask who is paying me to do this, and I have to say, ‘Nobody—I just really love these particular books,’” says Laura Straub, the “vicereine” of Vouched Atlanta, a grassroots initiative that promotes and distributes the literature of small, independent presses.
Straub, a twenty-five-year-old writer who moved here from Muncie, Indiana, in 2008, essentially acts as a curator, sorting through hundreds of books in a variety of genres to cull favorites. Then she sets up her folding table at festivals, galleries, and other artsy crossroads around Atlanta—Artlantis, the Goat Farm, the Solar Anus reading series—with around twenty-five selections she can discuss in an on-the-spot book club. She usually buys four or five copies of each title directly from the publisher at cost and sells them for a $1 or $2 markup, which she uses to buy more titles.
“I’ve read them, hence the name,” Straub says of Vouched, which started in Indianapolis “to remind people that literature can shake its ass,” according to its website, where readers can find more ardent commentary and reviews as well as the location of the next ambush sale. “Indie lit can be hard to find, so I thought this was a novel concept to deal with that need,” Straub says, giggling and apologizing for the pun.
Illustration by Bomboland