Independent bookstores to celebrate Small Business Saturday around the country |

Independent bookstores to celebrate Small Business Saturday around the country

Shari Johansson and her son Elias do some Black Friday shopping at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in downtown Steamboat Springs. This Saturday support the local bookstore with "Small Business Saturday" and by spending an afternoon with Denver author, Mark Stevens.
Matt Stensland

If You Go...

What: An afternoon with author Mark Stevens

When: 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28

Where: Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 68 Ninth St.

— Authors will have a new role this weekend, and it starts with independent bookstores throughout the country.

Serving as honorary booksellers for a day, authors of all genres will gather at bookstores nationwide to help sell and sign books, share recommendations and give readings for Indies First, a national campaign of activities and events in support of independent bookstores.

From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Off the Beaten Path, in downtown Steamboat Springs, will participate in the event for the first time for the first time, welcoming Denver author Mark Stevens. Stevens, author of the acclaimed Allison Coil mystery series set in the Flat Tops, will be in the store all afternoon volunteering as a bookseller and signing copies of his books.

Emily Katzman, bookseller and assistant manager of Off the Beaten Path, said she looks forward to the store’s first year hosting the event and offered a few tips on what makes a good bookseller.

“First and foremost, you have to have a passion for reading and books,” she said. “It’s not just about selling books, but to really connect readers with a book they will love. One of my favorite parts of this job is talking to people about books, and I think authors inherently have a lot of passion for books already.”

The son of two librarians, Stevens was drawn to books at an early age. He has worked in journalism, television and education and now finds success writing mystery novels about western Colorado.

The gripping mystery series follows the life of Allison Coil, a skilled hunting guide who is smart, tough, complex and, at times, vulnerable. Each book focuses on a murder that includes environmental, political and social elements.

Stevens draws inspiration for the books from themes, locations and characters he has encountered in western Colorado. The primary protagonist for the series, he said, was inspired by a female hunting guide he met in the Flat Tops Wilderness.

“When I met her there many years ago, I was just so enthralled with her character and the Flat Tops and how different those are in terms of Colorado,” Stevens said. “The vegetation is so lush there with the lakes, and it’s very different than most of Colorado. There is something really peaceful and remote about that area.”

The four titles in the Allison Coil series include “Antler Dust,” “Buried by the Roan,” “Trapline” and “Lake of Fire.” Steamboat Springs residents, Stevens said, may relate to the books’ atmosphere and their strong protagonist, a woman who isn’t afraid to take charge.

Stevens said this will be the first time he has assumed the role of a bookseller but added he looks forward to the challenge and the opportunity to have conversations with other readers.

“Part of the beauty of reading is that you want something the same, but different,” Stevens said. “But I think we have to look at our own reading patterns, because sometimes, you may be in the mood for candy or may want a real heavy novel. It depends on the day, mood and your interests, which change over time. It’s always fun to run into other readers and maybe go off in a new direction that you might not of even have thought of.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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