Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
Henry Ward Beecher
Chilly temperatures notwithstanding, it must be Spring! And that means that it’s time to mark the last Saturday in April to join in Independent Bookstore Day – specifically to tour as many as possible of the unique and spectacular indie bookstores that call this community home There will be author visits and readings, music, children’s events, and a chance to meet and greet the friendly bibliophiles who staff the region’s scores of independent bookstores.
As the promo material for the day points out, “Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.” The point, as I see it, is that not just the bookstores but their supporters are unique and independent!
There will be much more publicity, including on this blog, as the date approaches.
Meanwhile, I’d like to share a small story that reflects the relationship that readers share with their favorite indie:
Bethany Clarke was a long-time regular at Eat My Words! Bookstore, a very special used bookstore in Northeast Minneapolis. I never met Bethany but I share with her a devotion to this book lover’s dream destination. It’s also the site of our weekly Voices of Northeast interviews with reps of the Northeast Minneapolis book/reading community. (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/voices-of-northeast-minneapolis-captured-and-shared-on-video/)
One of the charming features of EMW is the busy all-purpose check-out desk where phones rings, customers request specific titles, Jimmy the USPS delivery man delivers and picks up tons of mail orders, neighbors drop in – and some of us show up for a weekly “shoot.”
If you hang out at that busy desk you soon spot a little box of miscellany. As it turns out, EMW staffers collect the stuff found in used books, returned books, etc. Everything from book marks to family photos to newspaper clippings, cartoons, personal notes and more. Like many customers, including me, Bethany perused the contents of that little box. Then Bethany took the next step – she assembled the collection in a booklet, appropriately entitled “Eat My Scraps: Things found in the pages of books at Eat My Words Bookstore” –self-published in Minneapolis, MN, November 2016. It’s a limited edition, and a grateful patron’s way of thanking EMW for the many hours of reading pleasure the shop has provided.
I love the story – it made me think that other faithful customers might want to do something personal to express their Thank You to a special indie on April 29.
My personal thank you to EMW is to encourage every independent reader to visit the shop and to subscribe to the bookstore’s “way above average” newsletter! More about EMW, their public programs and a chance to subscribe to the newsletter here: http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com
IMPORTANT UPDATE; http://www.midwestbooksellers.org/twin-cities-ibd-passport.html — The basics re. this year’s bookstore passports!
UPDATE: Reflections on the new Amazon bookstore in Chicago – need we know more… Chicago’s Amazon Books: ‘No Quirks, No Warmth, No Store Cat’
|“Amazon Books on Southport Avenue, the fifth physical store from the Seattle online giant and its first in the Midwest, is a deeply, unsettlingly normal place, a soulless, antiseptic 6,000 square feet, a stone’s throw from a J. Crew and a SoulCycle. It has the personality of an airport bookstore and conveys all the charm of its stone floor. Shopping there is as frictionless as a one-click purchase. There are no quirks, no attempts at warmth. There is no store cat. There are no handwritten notes about what the staff loves. The only difference between the children’s section and the rest of the store is that the children’s section has a rug. It is, in businessspeak, a bricks-and-mortar presence, so unimaginative its facade is brick.
“Body snatchers come to mind.”
–Christopher Borrelli in a column in the Chicago Tribune about the new Amazon Books store in Chicago.
UPDATE: Tribute published in ShelfAwareness 4/25/17
UPDATE: My Bookstore: ‘A Love Letter to Indies’- PUBLISHED IN SELF AWARENESS 4/25/17
In 2012, Black Dog & Leventhal (one of our favorite names for a book publisher) published My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, a tribute to independent bookstores by 84 well-known writers. Edited by industry veteran Ronald Rice, illustrated by Leif Parsons and with a foreword by author Richard Russo, the book included essays by, among others, Fannie Flagg, John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Dave Eggers, Wendell Berry, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Lisa See and Erin Hildebrand. Sometimes funny, often entertaining and always heartfelt, their contributions emphasized something readers may not be aware of: the many ways that indie bookstores are crucial to writers, particularly as they begin their careers and need help introducing their work and themselves to readers. In addition, indies keep established writers connected with their readers and with the wider book world. Bookstores also help writers in the same way they do other customers: introduce them to books and authors they wouldn’t know about otherwise, and offer them all the activities, services and charm that indies provide.
Earlier this month, My Bookstore was released in paperback; this updated edition features contributions from nine more writers and an afterword by Emily St. John Mandel. This version is timed to appear in connection with the third annual Independent Bookstore Day, which takes place this coming Saturday, April 29. My Bookstore offers book lovers a great opportunity to read more by their favorite writers, and about their favorite bookstores.
Editor Ronald Rice commented: “The new edition comes at a time when I see a bumper crop of new independent bookstores opening. I’m very encouraged. I hope the book is a legacy of the spirit and vital importance of independent bookselling.” He also called My Bookstore “a love letter to the indies,” a description and sentiment we embrace–in a variety of ways.