Buffalo is a city alight with curiosity and creativity. It is a place artists of all walks of life flock to when inspiration is needed. Take a stroll down Elmwood Avenue, heading North to the very heart of downtown, and you’ll find Talking Leaves Bookstore nestled contently in a nook next to the most popular traditional Italian coffee spot. The independently-owned bookstore is Buffalo’s oldest, pushing 43 years in business. Recent news has revealed that the Talking Leaves University Heights location, on Main Street near University at Buffalo, is closing. As a writer, book-lover, and Buffalonian, I am pained by this news. It’s no secret book retailers have taken a hit with the sudden, rapid takeoff of e-books and electronic readers. Unfortunately, I naively hoped my own personal favorite bookstore would survive through the book revolution untouched… The Elmwood Village location of the bookstore will remain, and will hopefully continue to grow.
As a city, Buffalo is supremely proud of its cultures and traditions. Dyngus Day is highly anticipated every year, as are Food Truck Tuesdays and Zumba in the Park Wednesdays in the humid summer months. It’s a city alive with passion, and passion is exactly what No Frills Buffalo/Amelia Press (NFB/AP) is rooted in. Mark, the indie-CEO, editor, marketing manager, and PR specialist of NFB/AP, allowed me to work with him on beta-editing and marketing techniques. We reached out to local writers, seeking new, fresh stories that would really punch the community right in the gut… in the best possible way. Dominating the publishing industry in WNY, the press is small and localized, centering itself in Buffalo tradition and pride. A full-time teacher, Mark developed No Frills Buffalo/Amelia Press to engrain the spirit of the city in Talking Leaves bookshop, which is now the hottest place to find local literature, art, and food. The press has published hundreds of books, in all genres: fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry. No matter the genre, the books all have one common theme: the Queen City.
An author I had the pleasure of working with is Michael Farrell, author of When the Lights Go Out. Mike and I corresponded in the late stages of the editing process, fixing the final version of the and addressing some minor proofreading/formatting errors. Farrell has been published in The Buffalo News, Buffalo Spree, and and The Boston Herald in the past, but sought NFB/AP as a platform to reach out to a larger audience. Like most small presses, NFB/AP distributes by order-only to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but still supplies to bookstores all the way from Talking Leaves to Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, NY!
Local pride is, arguably, the most important factor in maintaining a healthy community. Not only does NFB/AP publish only Western New York writers, but the press makes sure 90% of profits go to the authors. They seek submissions daily, and authors frequently re-publish with the press and successfully establish a local presence in the area. No Frills Buffalo/ Amelia Press’ mission statement is as follows:
“We hope to provide all that is necessary for the author to flourish including editing, design and in some cases representation. No Frills means no excess, no double-speak, no empty promises. The words on the page are the core, the author is the center and the book is the goal.”
A local press such as this one offers the city not only a permanent community and outreach program, but also allows writers, readers, and neighbors to unite over a common ground. Artists from all crafts call Talking Leaves “home.” To the 2.6 million Western New Yorkers, Talking Leaves will always be a way to feel grounded in the city we all take so much pride in… and it’s No Frills Buffalo / Amelia Press that preserves the culture and history of the resurging community.