November 4, 2013

Independent Bookstores of America!

Hi Everyone,

Below I have created an index to all 49 bookstore blog posts.  On each post you can find all the bookstore's website, Facebook, and Twitter links. The list is also a quick at-a-glance of which stores will be featured in the final book. Share it around, take a look, and the next time someone claims his state doesn't have any independent bookstores anymore, show them this page and prove they're wrong!

Thank you all so much for following me on this bookstore tour these last months as I continue to work to create this Independent Bookstores of America coffee table book. The first couple stages are officially finished! I'm so grateful for all the support I've received from so many people. From all you beautiful book loving people who supported the IndieGoGo campaign to all the new friends, blog followers, and bookstore owners I've met over the last few months during this bookstore tour -- I could not have done this without all of you. 

Total Miles Driven: 18,821
Indie Bookstores Photographed: 49 
States visited: 48
Months on the road: 4+
Total # of times I give thanks for all of your support: 1,000,000,000 (and only grows each day)

As for questions about Hawaii and Alaska, well maybe one day it'll be in the budget, and we can add them in. :-)

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.


P.S. -- If your favorite indie bookstore didn't make it into the book this time, I am really sorry. I promise the hardest part of this project was narrowing down the bookstores to only one per state. There are many more out there that I truly love. Thank goodness, right? Long live bookstores!

Alabama Page and Palette
Arizona Antigone Books
Arkansas WordsWorth Books & Company
California Green Apple Books
Colorado Tattered Cover
Connecticut R.J. Julia Booksellers
Delaware Browseabout Books
Florida Books & Books
Georgia FoxTale Bookshop
Idaho Rediscovered Books
Illinois Anderson's Bookshop
Indiana Big Hat Books
Iowa Prairie Lights
Kansas Rainy Day Books
Kentucky The Morris Bookshop
Louisiana Garden District Bookshop
Maine Longfellow Books
Maryland The Ivy Bookshop
Massachusetts Porter Square Books
Michigan Nicola's Books
Minnesota Magers & Quinn Booksellers
Mississippi Square Books
Missouri Left Bank Books
Montana Country Bookshelf
Nebraska The Bookworm
Nevada Sundance Bookstore
New Hampshire Water Street Bookstore
New Jersey Watchung Booksellers
New Mexico Moby Dickens
New York WORD
North Carolina Malaprop's
North Dakota Zandbroz Variety
Ohio The Book Loft
Oklahoma Full Circle Bookstore
Oregon Bloomsbury Books
Pennsylvania Joseph Fox Bookshop
Rhode Island Books on the Square
South Carolina Hub City Bookshop
South Dakota Prairie Pages Bookseller 
Tennessee Parnassus Books
Texas Book People
Utah Weller Book Works
Vermont Crow Bookshop
Virginia Fountain Bookstore
Washington Elliot Bay Book Company
Washington, D.C. Politics & Prose
West Virginia Taylor Books
Wisconsin Boswell Book Company
Wyoming Wind City Books

November 3, 2013

Florida: Books & Books

Books & Books in Miami, Florida was my last stop on this amazing Independent Bookstores of America journey. It is the 49th bookstore I've visited in a three month period. Clearly I have seen a lot of bookstores, but luckily I was smart enough to save one of the best for last. Books & Books is a south Florida treasure. Think that's cheesy talk? Well, you're right but you're also wrong because it is the TRUTH. This store, which has a few locations, is dead on awesome. 

The store featured in the pictures below is the original Coral Gables location, and this is the location that will be featured in the book. It's a gorgeous store with a beautiful courtyard and a way above average, absolutely excellent cafe. Mitchell Kaplan, who founded Books & Books in 1982, was nice enough to spend some time talking to me about the store and its history. As a Miami native, he definitely understand and knows his community which is reflected in the bookstores.

The best part of Books & Books is that it really feels like a loved community spot. The events this store puts on are numerous and fantastic. Cristina Nosti, Director of Events & Marketing for Books & Books, appears to have planning great author events and fun community events down to an art. She was an absolutely wonderful guide to learning about this store, and I can't say enough good things about her or Mitch.

The day I was there I saw a book club holding a lunch in one of the store's spaces, some parents enjoying the beautiful kids' section with their children, and a packed cafe with people from all over using this store as a place to meet up and hang out. While Books & Books may be historic and have a well-earned reputation for its greatness, it hasn't lost the local community feeling that one hopes to get with a good independent bookstore.

Books & Books is about an hour away (if I'm being generous with traffic) from where I live now, and I have to brag: I am one lucky bibliophile to have such an awesome independent bookstore not too far away.

DSC_0011 DSC_0055 DSC_0122 DSC_0180light DSC_0184lightened DSC_0197 DSC_0226 DSC_0241 DSC_0041

Facebook: Books & Books
Twitter: Books & Books

West Virginia: Taylor Books

West Virginia sometimes gets a bad rap, but Taylor Books in Charleston sure makes a strong case for it being a pretty great place. This great downtown local spot has a lot of books to choose from and a nice cafe where you can grab lunch and hang out for a bit, One of my favorite parts of this store was the explanation of why you should shop local written on the wall behind the cashier's area. You can see it in the last picture on the bottom here, but it says: You spend $100 local - $68 of it stays local.

DSC_0153 DSC_0161 DSC_0186 DSC_0188 DSC_0208

Facebook: Taylor Books
Twitter: Taylor Books
Next Bookstore: Books & Books in Florida

November 2, 2013

Virginia: Fountain Bookstore

Fountain Bookstore: another freaking awesome store that I'm way too excited to tell you about. I'm going to try though. Fountain Bookstore is located in downtown Richmond, VA and is owned and run by one of the coolest people I met on my Indie Bookstores of America journey, Kelly Justice. She has owned Fountain Bookstore since 2008 and been its manager since 2000.  

Things I loved about this store:
  • Its owner
  • Its great vibe, which no offense Richmond, I didn't know you guys could have. (And if you're in Richmond and only stick to the suburbs, you're doing yourself a disservice. Get to this store immediately.)
  • Its awesome online presence and skill at selling autographed copies of books.
  • The zero tolerance for book snobbery so that everyone who comes to this store feels totally comfortable and not intimidated by any 'indie bookstore' stereotypes they may have. (Full disclosure: That's a personal pet peeve of mine. I really hate book snobs. I just want everyone to love books. Period. End of story. :)
  • The bookstore soap 

Yep, you read that last one correctly. This is pretty much one of the coolest extra things I've seen in a bookstore. How many times have you gone into a bookstore and had an immediate reaction to how good it smelled? Well Fountain Bookstore captured its great scent and put it in a soap. 

And if you're still wondering why I mention the people behind a bookstore so much, it's because I truly believe they are what makes a bookstore awesome. Unlike a chain store where a manager or franchise owner may not have as much personal impact on a store, indie bookstores are completely shaped by their owners. And an awesome store is going to have an equally great bookstore owner behind it.

DSC_0014 DSC_0021 DSC_0040 DSC_0052 DSC_0093 DSC_0048

Next Bookstore: Taylor Books in West Virginia

November 1, 2013

Delaware: Browseabout Books

Every beach needs to have a bookstore nearby! It just makes sense, don't you think? This is especially true if all the stores can be like Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. First of all, it's huge. Second, it's all bookstore on one side and then attached to it is another store with your typical beach needs. 

I happened to visit this store on Labor Day weekend so you can imagine that it was a popular day to be on the beach and near the store. Well, I loved this store and from all the beach visitors that stopped in, it was clear I wasn't the only one! All the booksellers I talked to were beyond great and really friendly and helpful. Plus with a store this big, you're definitely going to find a book you'll love. 

I left Browseabout Books with a great insulated beach bag that has the store's name and logo on it. Bookstore t-shirts, bags, and almost all other bookstore paraphernalia are going to be huge hits with me. Not anything I'd ever want if it was from a bookstore-chain-that-need-not-be-mentioned.

 DSC_0095 DSC_0038  DSC_0087 DSC_0107 DSC_0065

Next Bookstore: Fountain Bookstore in Virginia

October 30, 2013

Maryland: The Ivy Bookshop

The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Maryland is a great local indie bookstore that does a great job with all of my requirements for a good bookstore. The selection is awesome, the store has a great vibe with a beautiful set-up, and of course it's run by an owner who is a passionate and amiable book lover. I hope all of you reading this in the Baltimore area will make sure to visit this store and make it your go to spot for books!

DSC_0122 DSC_0141 DSC_0184 DSC_0186 DSC_0195withlight

Facebook: The Ivy Bookshop
Twitter: The Ivy Bookshop
Last Bookstore: Politics & Prose in D.C.
Next Bookstore: Browseabout Books in Delaware

October 27, 2013

Washington, D.C.: Politics & Prose

I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to the famous Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. because it is just a plain awesome store. That's basically what it all comes down to. The store has tons of space both upstairs and downstairs and also has a coffee shop that is always packed. It's also only the second store I've been to across the country that has its own self-publishing machine. (The other being another famous store that I visited in Colorado: Tattered Cover.)

One of the things that Politics & Prose is probably most know for is the number of events they host every year. They host nearly 500 events a year!! That is a just a mind boggling awesome number. If your favorite author is doing any public speaking at all, it's a sure bet that Politics & Prose is one of his or her stops.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to talk to and learn a lot from one of the store's owners Brad Graham and its senior book buyer Mark LaFramboise. Both are well springs of knowledge and clearly enjoy what they're doing. I had an awesome time visiting this store, and I'm so glad it's going to be in the book. 

DSC_0013DSC_0054 11dcwithlight DSC_0067DSC_0103 DSC_0109 DSC_0094

Facebook: Politics & Prose
Next Bookstore: The Ivy Bookshop in Maryland

October 26, 2013

Pennsylvania: Joseph Fox Booksellers

Joseph Fox Bookshop in Philadelphia, PA is an independent bookstores that reminds you just how awesome an indie bookstore can be. It's one of those historic stores that everyone who loves indie bookstores can tell you all about no matter what state they're from. (The store has been around since 1951!) Also, you might notice that the top picture below is a little bigger than I usually post on this blog, but that's because this dog is so freaking cute I can't stand it. 

I love this picture so much -- it was a feat to get it as this little puppy loves to run around! It's pretty common to hear of an indie store having a cat or two, but this was the only store on my tour that had a bookstore dog! He isn't there all the time, but it's a good bet you can run into him occasionally. An indie bookstore with an adorable and loving dog is a place I would spend a lot of time in if I lived nearby.

DSC_0037 DSC_0058 DSC_0064 DSC_0066

Next Bookstore: Politics & Prose in Washington D.C.

New Jersey: Watchung Booksellers

Watchung Booksellers in New Jersey is a cool indie store that makes good use of its space. It's located in a really cute square right off of a NJ transit stop, too, which makes it one of the more convenient bookstores I've been to so far. On the day I visited, the children's area was packed because the bookstore was holding a little arts & crafts session with parents and children. Bookstores are so much more than just a place to buy books. They really are community building centers that we need to protect and preserve.

DSC_0043 DSC_0047 DSC_0052 DSC_0059 DSC_0064

Last Bookstore: Word in New York
Next Bookstore: Joseph Fox Bookshop in Pennsylvania

October 25, 2013

New York: WORD

Picking a bookstore to feature for the state of New York was a BIG challenge. Huge. Gigantic even. The state (not just the city!) is so lucky to have a lot of really great bookstores. I've also lived in New York for so long that it made it even harder for me to pick just one bookstore. I've spent lots of time browsing and hanging out at the bookstores I had to choose from. After much consideration and discussion with my friends in New York, we decided that WORD in Brooklyn would be the perfect choice.

Located in Greenpoint, WORD is the perfect neighborhood bookstore. New Yorkers always have to be smart and creative about how they use space since it's at such a premium, and this bookstore accomplishes this feat beautifully. It's a small bookstore, but it actually has so much more than you'd imagine. Most importantly, it does this without making you feel like you've walked into an episode of hoarders. It's beautifully done. And of course, a perfect neighborhood bookstore can't exist without an absolutely wonderful and intelligent owner which WORD definitely has in Christine Onorati.

Brooklyn, you're so lucky. Make sure this bookstore is your go to spot!

(P.S. - This is my first shout out to a store that is not going to be featured in the book, but I am so happy that my old neighborhood finally has a bookstore that I had to share! It just opened this summer, so all of you Astoria people, go to Astoria Bookshop and support them! Okay? Thanks. :) 

DSC_0038 DSC_0013DSC_0030  DSC_0066DSC_0076

Facebook: WORD Bookstores
Twitter: WORD Bookstores
Next Bookstore: Watchung Booksellers in New Jersey