When Neil Gaiman selected Porter Square Books to sell tickets to his only local reading for his new book, the Cambridge store decided not to take any online or phone orders. “We wanted to let our local community get a shot at the tickets,” said Ellen Jarrett, the store’s events and publicity manager, citing Gaiman’s loyalty to his fans and community. “He just keeps so grounded and in touch with his people,” she explained — whether through social media (Gaiman, going by @neilhimself, is a Twitter sensation with more than 1,800,000 followers) or by patronizing stores like hers. “We’re his local bookstore,” she points out, as the author and his wife, writer/musician Amanda Palmer, live in Cambridge.
His fans responded. On June 18, the release date of Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” and the day on which tickets became available, Jarrett said, “we had about 75 people lined up when I got here at 6 in the morning.”
Colin Moon, 26, of Cambridge, was one of them. “Neil Gaiman is hands down my favorite author,” Moon said. “I own just about everything he’s written.” Moon says most of the other writers he loves are long gone — from Milton to Poe to Hemingway — so he feels “incredibly lucky” to be able to hear Gaiman.
Bethany McBournie, 28, of Salem, was there, too, after waking up at 3 a.m. “I was in the bookstore parking lot by 4:15,” she said. “The first 10 or so folks in line bonded a bit over mutual Gaiman love and lack of sleep.”
“I’ve been a Gaiman fan longer than I ever knew,” McBournie continued. “Reading those books changed my life.”
By 7:30, half an hour after the store opened, 400 tickets were gone. The reading, to be held July 13 at 6 p.m. at the First Parish Church in Harvard Square, was sold out by 9 a.m. A bookstore veteran, Jarrett says she’s rarely seen anything like it: “The only thing that comes close is Harry Potter.”
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at email@example.com.