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Authors selling books — literally — on Saturday

**ADVANCE FOR FRIDAY AUG.29**  In this phoreleased by HarperCollins shows Wally Lamb author 'The Hour I First Believed'. (AP

**ADVANCE FOR FRIDAY AUG.29** In this photo released by HarperCollins shows Wally Lamb author of "The Hour I First Believed". (AP Photo/HarperCollins) **NO SALES**

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» Larry Day, at Anderson’s, 5112 Main St., Downers Grove

» Luis Alberto Urrea, at Anderson’s Bookshop 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville

» Richard Moreno, at New Copperfield’s Book Service, 120N. Side Sq. Ste. A, Macomb

» Kelly McNees, 4736 N. Lincoln, Chicago

» Melanie Benjamin and Robert Goldborough, at The Bookstore, 475 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn

Updated: December 30, 2013 11:04AM

Best-selling novelist Wally Lamb, a two-time Oprah Book Club pick, has signed thousands of copies of his books. But he’s never sold one, at least the way booksellers do.

That will change Saturday, when Lamb and more than 1,000 other authors become volunteer booksellers for a day at more than 400 independent bookstores across the country.

It’s part of Small Business Saturday, which began three years ago as way to support local businesses in an age of online shopping and national chains. This year, author Sherman Alexie added a literary twist he dubbed “Indies First.”

In an open letter to other authors in September, Alexie, best known for his semi-autobiographical novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” urged “book nerds” to become booksellers at a local bookstore on Small Business Saturday.

“We will make recommendations,” he wrote. “We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books. Maybe you’ll sign and sell books of your own in the process.”

Lamb, who’ll be at R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., says he signed up “to celebrate the survival and resurgence of America’s indie bookstores,” and “to extend my personal thanks to R.J.’s, one of the best and most reader-friendly indies in the country.”

Other prominent author/volunteers include: Dave Barry (in Florida), Cheryl Strayed (in Oregon), Sarah Dessen (in North Carolina) and Ridley Pearson (in St. Louis).

Dan Cullen of the American Booksellers Association says “it’s been completely a grass-roots promotion, spreading largely via social media.”

Lamb, 63, a former high school English teacher, says he has limited retail experience. In high school, he worked at a drugstore and recalls selling a “a lot of condoms, called rubbers back then, and kept discreetly in the back room.” In graduate school, he worked at a convenience store and “sold a lot of Slim Jims and more condoms.”

Saturday, he’ll be selling books.

Gannett News Service

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