Books at the Block Party: The Economics and Outcomes of a Local Literary Economy

Stephanie Anderson (Darien Library), Dan Blank (We Grow Media), Rachel Fershleiser (Tumblr), Kassia Krozser (, Kevin Smokler (Kevin Smokler enterprises)
Location: Duffy/Columbia Level:
Average rating: ***..
(3.00, 2 ratings)

Why does it make national news when Laredo, TX (pop. 250,000) loses their only bookstore and not their only flower shop or car wash? This discussion gets at why. Acknowledged out loud or not, we view books, authors and literature as emblems of a vital community. “Books at the Block Party” will explore the economic and cultural value of a thriving writing/book/publishing culture . Experts from urban planning, library, and nonprofit space will share data and case studies of what has worked, how and the benefits and challenges of making books part of a community’s lifeblood. The takeaway: An action plan and the supporting evidence for why books not only enrich a community but how that enrichment shapes the business and place of authors, publishers, booksellers and organizatons in the publishing ecosystem.

This session will explore:

  • The writing/book/publishing culture outside both within and outside of community bookstores
  • Authorless events and books as additions to local business and community functions.
  • Literary culture and institutions as an element of urban planning.
  • The role of technology and social media in both creating and complicating the idea of physical space and place for books.
Photo of Stephanie Anderson

Stephanie Anderson

Darien Library

Stephanie Anderson is the Head of Readers’ Advisory at the Darien Library and has been in the book industry for over ten years, most recently as the manager of WORD, an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. She also blogs as Bookavore, reviews children’s books for Shelf Awareness, and runs the country’s only nerd basketball league.

Photo of Dan Blank

Dan Blank

We Grow Media

Dan Blank is the founder of where he has worked with hundreds of writers, helping them build an audience for their books, and ensures their work has an impact with readers that builds a lasting legacy. He teaches online courses in author platform development, digital content strategy and marketing, as well as runs in-person workshops and provides consulting services for both writers and publishers.

Dan has worked with both traditionally published bestselling authors as well as first-time writers self-publishing their work. He has worked for companies such as Workman Publishing, Perseus Books Group, The Kenyon Review, Writers House, F&W Media, Writers Digest, Library Journal, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, Mediabistro and others. He speaks regularly at writing and publishing conferences including BookExpo America, Writer’s Digest Conference, AWP, Thrillerfest, Digital Book World, SCBWI, NYU Center for Publishing, James River Writers, Grub Street’s The Muse & Marketplace, and many others.

You can find Dan via his blog at, on Twitter at, and on LinkedIn (

Photo of Rachel Fershleiser

Rachel Fershleiser


Rachel Fershleiser works on Tumblr’s strategic outreach team, specializing in publishing, nonprofit, and cultural organizations. Previously she was the Community Manager at Bookish and the Director of Public Programs at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. She is also the co-creator of Six-Word Memoirs and co-editor of the New York Times Bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning, and three other books. Her writing has appeared in the anthology My Parents Were Awesome and in The Village Voice, New York Press, Print, Los Angeles Times, National Post,, Fray Quarterly and several amazing print and online publications you’ve never heard of.

She is passionate about drawing connections between online and IRL literary community.

Photo of Kassia Krozser

Kassia Krozser

Kassia Krozser, publisher of, covers the intersection of technology and publishing. She serves on advisory boards for several publishing start-ups, presents at conferences such as Tools of Change for Publishing, Digital Book World, and South by Southwest, has appeared on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and contributes to various industry publications.

Photo of Kevin Smokler

Kevin Smokler

Kevin Smokler enterprises

Called “A publishing visionary” by The Huffington Post and Mashable, Kevin Smokler is the author of forthcoming essay collection “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons the Reread 50 Books you Haven’t Touched Since High School” (Prometheus Books, Feb. 2013) and the editor of “Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times,” A San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2005. His work has appeared in the LA Times, Fast Company, Paid Content, The San Francisco Chronicle, Publishers Weekly and National Public Radio.

Kevin Smokler sits on the advisory boards of SXSW Interactive, Salon97 and Symbolia Magazine and speaks on the future of media and culture at companies (AOL), conferences (SXSW, The Idea Festival) and universities (M.I.T, Stanford, University of Michigan) throughout North America.


Sponsorship Opportunities

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