Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, along with Linda-Marie Barrett, general manager of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, and Sarah Goddin, general manager of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, published a letter on April 14 addressed to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. General Assembly.
The letter, signed by 32 independent bookstores and three North Carolina publishing companies, said House Bill 2 was hurting small businesses, especially booksellers, who suffer when authors cancel events in protest of the bill.
Fiocco said the discussion about House Bill 2 among independent booksellers started when children’s author Sherman Alexie canceled his event at Malaprop’s scheduled for May 18.
“I think what kicked everything off was Malaprop’s in Asheville losing a really big-name author,” she said. “It’s a huge financial hit for us to lose a big-name author.”
Barrett said after Alexie’s cancellation, she realized other authors might start doing the same, so she published a letter to authors and publishers in Shelf Awareness, a national e-newsletter about books and the book industry.
“My appeal was that they could use their performance to publicize what’s going on,” Barrett said. “And perhaps even fundraise.”
She said Malaprop’s is working to turn events with local authors into fundraising events.
Fiocco said although Flyleaf has not had any authors cancel events, they are also working to give authors the chance to speak out against House Bill 2.
Felicia Day, an actress and writer, posted a YouTube video announcing she would not be canceling her book tour stop in North Carolina.
Day scheduled a book signing at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro sponsored by Flyleaf Books on April 27. Fiocco said Equality NC, a nonprofit organization, would also be at the event to speak about their work to repeal House Bill 2.
“That’s an example of turning it into a positive,” she said.
Elizabeth Woodman, publisher for Eno Publishers in Hillsborough, said in an email the bill was not only against their guiding principles, but was also doing harm to businesses and communities throughout the state.
“As small business owners, we expect our state government to have a positive effect on the business climate; at worst, it would have no effect,” Woodman said. “For it to have a negative impact, which we now face, is unfathomable.”
Fiocco said she hopes the bill would be repealed.
“An optimistic view would be that the elected officials at some point will have to take into consideration the loss of revenue and the loss of jobs and the outpouring of anti-legislation voices,” she said. “I just think that that will eventually take its toll.”