5 questions with Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld

There have been quite a few reports lately that indie bookstores are on the rise or making a comeback. We're heartened by this news since indie bookstores are some of our favourite places and, we'll say it, our favourite people are book people.

Photo of Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld.

One of those book people is Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld, Events Coordinator at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon. 

McNally Robinson has three stores in Canada, two in Winnipeg and one in Saskatoon. They bill themselves as "Canada's largest and most eventful independent bookseller, locally owned and committed to the values of community bookselling." Founded in 1981 in Winnipeg, this chain also has a sister store, McNally Jackson, in New York City. 

Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld agreed to answer our bookseller questionnaire in this instalment of 5 questions with:

1. Which author would you most like to have for an event in your store (living or dead)?

There are many, but I’m going to say Patricia Lockwood because I recently read Priestdaddy and thought it was brilliant! It’s absurd and plaintive and one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. 

2. What attracted you to bookselling?

I was an anxious kid, seemingly allergic to the outdoors and without cable, so I relied heavily on reading for entertainment and as a coping mechanism. Being around books makes sense to me. I also value being part of a larger community of book lovers, authors, and weirdos. Most of the weirdos are also booksellers.

3. What's your favourite bookselling war story?

Hosting a signing with Jann Arden in mid-December and selling out of her book Feeding My Mother as hundreds of folks waited in line to meet her. It was absolute chaos. 

4. What is the most pressing issue facing bookselling today?

As an independent bookseller, I’d say the constant flux of the industry is an ongoing challenge. Not to mention the popularity of certain major online retailers and wholesalers. That being said, I think we’re holding our own rather well.

Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld of @mcnallyrobinson tells @BookNet_Canada what she thinks is the most pressing issue facing bookselling today.

5. What forthcoming book are you most excited about?

I’m really looking forward to the sequel to Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman! I also think Refuse: CanLit in Ruins (Book*hug) is going to be an important read.

BONUS: An aunt comes in looking for a gift for her niece, who likes embroidery and Proust, just got a new job on a cruise line, and whose beloved schnauzer just passed away. What do you recommend?

I’ve never read Proust and I don’t embroider, but my instincts tell me that her niece might benefit from a journal to process some pretty big life changes. Perhaps a waterproof one?

Smart thinking. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Even the admittedly strange one.

Find all of our bookseller responses to this questionnaire here.