Andrew Laties says he's been a contrarian since age 8, when he refused to cut his long hair, despite ridicule from classmates. "At that point, I took on an adversarial position that's resonated throughout my life," he says.
For 30 years, Laties managed three independent book stores in Chicago. He now runs the Eric Carle Bookshop in Amherst, Mass. Bookstores are beleagured, but in his new book, Rebel Bookseller: Why Indie Bookstores Represent Everything You Want to Fight for From Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities (Seven Stories Press), Laties proposes solutions.
For one, "You want your name associated with every possible interest group your customers encounter; you increase the accessibility of your business and you learn about customers' interests," says Carle, by phone from New York.
Rejecting chain-bookstore paradigms, Laties argues for quality over quantity, and insists that the value of indies lies in knowing their patrons.
Copacetic Comics hosts a meet-and-greet with Laties and a "buying local" panel discussion. Other panelists include Jovon Higgins, from 720 Music, Clothing & Café; Frank Otero, from Eljay's Used Books; and Copacetic's Bill Boichel. 6-8 p.m. Mon., Oct. 3. 3138 Dobson St., Polish Hill. Free. 412-251-5451 or www.copaceticcomics.com. (Amy Kuhre)
Expect pizza from the outdoor brick oven and other treats alongside your literature as Gist Street Reading Series hosts its annual Wood-Fired Words event at Braddock's UnSmoke Artspace. Guest Josh Barkan, author of the short-story collection Before Hiroshima, is the inaugural writer-in-residence for the Into the Furnace program, ensconced for nine months in UnSmoke's neighboring former convent. The event starts at 7 p.m. Sat., Oct. 1 ($5; unsmokeartspace.com) … The Battle of Homestead Foundation hosts distinguished Pittsburgh-based author and historian Todd DePastino to discuss "Hobos, Hobohemia, and Homelessness in America." DePastino, much lauded for his 2009 biography of political cartoonist Bill Mauldin, is also author of the 2003 book Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America. He speaks at 1:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 2, at the foundation's historic Pump House, in Munhall (free; 412-848-3079) … Shannon Cain, 2011 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, reads at 6 p.m. Thu., Oct. 6, at the Carnegie Library's main branch, in Oakland. Cain reads from her award-winning short-fiction collection The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, whose stories, she says, "chart the treacherous and often absurd territory of the illicit" (free; 412-622-8866).