Kara Rofé looked forward to getting her hands on Jennette McCurdy’s memoir for months. The 24-year-old knew “I’m Glad My Mom Died” was coming out on Aug. 9. She usually wasn’t one to pre-order a book, but this was different.
Rofé, of Cambridge, also loved Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag,” so when she learned it was available in book form, she wanted to buy that, too. She added both to her cart and submitted the order to Porter Square Books in Cambridge.
Morgan Holly, 21, was working at the bookstore, checking out customers and attending to online orders. As a fan of Waller-Bridge, she immediately noticed the request for “Fleabag: The Scriptures.”
“It was one of the orders I was excited to fulfill,” she said, noting her similar taste.
Then, Holly saw the second title beside it: “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” The memoir by McCurdy, detailing the parental abuse she suffered as a child actress, has taken over the Internet and is a bestseller on Amazon. Hard copies are sold out on Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble, according to Rolling Stone.
Holly paused and looked at the two books side-by-side, both of which deal with pretty heavy subject matter.
“I saw the two books together, and I was like, I’m just gonna write a little note to make sure this person is doing okay,” she said. “Or just like a little sincere, little aside, that someone’s thinking about them and that I hope she’s doing okay.”
She added the extra note to the order:
I would say happy reading, but these titles indicate otherwise... Hope you are doing ok!
P.S. The Fleabag Scriptures is my most prized possession, hope you enjoy!
She hit send.
The humanness of the email in place of an automated message made Rofé’s night. She took it to Twitter. Then, well, this happened.
Their genuine exchange got more than 100,000 likes, and drove up support for local indie booksellers, particularly the book store at the heart of it all, Porter Square Books.
“What an awesome thing for them to do! I’d probably burst into tears if I were low and some random person felt I was worth checking on,” one reply said. “When folks ask why we’re all so devoted to indie bookstores, this is it. This is the answer,” another wrote.
“In the time of ordering things online, especially if you order a book on Amazon, you’re never going to get a personalized message, nor would you get a message with someone checking in on you,” Rofé said.
Holly admitted that when she sent the email, she didn’t expect so many people to see it. But she’s thrilled.
“It’s been really sweet and really eye-opening how many people have sort of connected to that tweet, and also it’s been really exciting seeing all these people rallying for independent bookstores,” she said.
Josh Cook, co-owner of Porter Square Books, agreed.
“I actually think my favorite genre of quote-tweet that I saw [was someone who said something like] ‘I started reading the message and thought “oh that’s something Porter Square Books would do,” and then I saw it was Porter Square Books’,“ he said.
It’s the humanness, he says, that’s at the heart of it. The conversations employees are having on social media or through emails to customers are not unlike the connections they’d create at the counter in the store. They’re just online.
I asked Cook how people can support their local indie bookstores. He says that if you’re talking about a book on social media, even if you don’t buy it at an indie bookstore, consider linking to one. “That’s free, that raises the stature of the bookstore and independent bookstores in general, and it might create a few sales,” he said.
As for the books Rofé ordered, the two titles are now sold out.
And if you’re wondering, Rofé says she’s doing okay.
She picked up her books on Wednesday night and has already started reading.
“Hot girls support their local bookstores,” she said, with a laugh.