Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Book Table - Oak Park, IL

The Book Table, Oak Park, IL
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Great news for The Book Table!
Readers, if you take nothing else from this article, consider this.  This store is embarking on a journey to expand its space.  The business space next door opened up and now The Book Table is going to move in and enlarge its store.  What a great sign for this bookstore, now approaching its 15th year in business.  Since many of you are independent bookstore patrons and supporters, here's how you can help.  Go to the store's website, booktable.net and find the link to contribute to their indiegogo campaign.  Jason and Rachel, the fine owners at The Book Table will appreciate anything you can give that would help out and contribute to the store's new expansion.

As Bianca, one of the store's staffers told me, when customers come in to The Book Table they aren't just entering a mere bookstore, they're entering a thriving bookstore.  I could certainly tell that on the week day of my visit.  Lots of customers coming and going and a well-staffed store.  It also helps to be located on one of the busiest streets in town, Lake St., which makes it very visible.  The one-level store offers new and used books and a good variety of sidelines, many of which were of a quirky nature.  They are very particular about the used books that they take and will offer the customer store credit or cash.  The used books can be found throughout the store shelved along side the new ones.  They also offer vintage and collectables and signed first editions.  The art books available here are especially good.

They don't hold events in the store, but one of my favorite things here is the events they do offer are called Authors On Tap.  These are held at a local bar and grill near the store where you can enjoy the event along with something to eat and/or drink.  

I'm so appreciative of Bianca and all the time she took to visit with me.  Her speciality is comic books but she's just as good at store PR.  As she told me, the secret here is Jason and Rachel, a great combination that complement each other well.  Jason does a great job of curating the store's book inventory and Rachel helps with some of the social media, just to mention a few of the things they do.

Many will come to Oak Park for the Hemingway Museum or Frank Lloyd Wright house.  Put one more stop on your list.  Don't miss out on a thriving and growing bookstore where you're sure to find something before you leave.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Munich, Robert Harris.  Historical fiction that takes place in 1938 London and Munich.  Based on the challenges and pressure leading up to the Munich Agreement between Chamberlain and Hitler.  The twist involves a member of Chamberlain's staff and a member of Hitler's staff who conspire to bring down the Führer.  I enjoyed this one.

CURRENLY READING:  The One Man, Andrew Gross.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Berlin Alexanderplatz, Alfred Döblin.  

Exterior view from the other direction.  Check out the awning.  Fiercely Independent!  Go indies!

A very spacious and well-used front display window.  

Staff favorites already visible in the display window.  

View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  Sagacious readers will undoubtedly recognize the celebrity in the left foreground.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  This is where you'll check out with your books and pick a few non-book impulse buys.  You'll enjoy meeting great people like Bianca, on the left.  

Always glad to find reading glasses since mine are usually broken or lost.  

A wonderful display that will greet you just inside the front entrance.  

Find a variety of magazines just to the right of the front entrance.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

The store has a wonderful variety of sidelines.  Something for everyone.  

See those white cards hanging from the shelves?  Those are "shelf-talkers."  If you're curious about one of the displayed books, read the shelf-talker.  You'll find these throughout the store and in almost every indie.
Look for this display to find a New York Review Of Books classic.  

Display of books of local interest.  

Remainders of the day = great prices.

If you see socks here that you like, get them.  You rarely see them anywhere besides an independent bookstore.  

If you're a collector looking for rare and vintage, you would be smart to give this store a visit. 

If you enjoy reading trilogies, find this display.  

The Book Table has lots of neat book tables.  This one is in the rear of the store.  

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  

Behind this blue tarp will be revealed an expanded store space, more books, more fun.  

A partial view of the children's section.  
Order away!
Some really interesting sidelines at the check-out counter and these are just a few.  

Speaking of interesting sidelines.  You should probably get some of this lip balm and hold onto it.  It might become collectable and valuable!  

With Bianca, one of the fine booksellers at The Book Table.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Book Rack, St. Louis - Ballwin, MO

The Book Rack, St. Louis, Ballwin, MO
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been on this journey for a few years and have now visited over 300 independent bookstores.  There are some who might think this would get old or ho-hum.  Let me ask you, what could possibly get old about seeing bookstores AND meeting some of the nicest people anywhere?  I know that I sometimes sound repetitive but these people I meet in bookstores are out of this world.  With that in mind, I offer up to you Cindy A., owner, and Lauren G., bookseller.  I hope when you visit The Book Rack that you take time to talk to these ladies.  These two are as nice as any I've met along my journey and once you start visiting with them you won't want to rush this bookstore experience.

The Book Rack has been at it for almost 38 years and Cindy is the third ownership, owning and succeeding for over 7 years.  The one-level store offers almost all used books and very few non-book items.  Understandably, after 38 years there are definitely a good core of regular customers.  This indie gets its books from these customers as well as estate sales or garage sales.  They are also fortunate to receive donated books.  Customers who bring their books in for trade receive "book bucks" to use in the store on more books.  The store is very well organized and as Cindy told me, she can be a little OCD which explains her talent for this.  I thought the quality of the books offered and the breadth of inventory was outstanding.  

My favorite thing at this store was the arrangement of the shelves.  Like many others, there were book nooks throughout the store but here at The Book Rack there was a chair in each nook.  Thank you Cindy!  Pick a nook, find a book, take a seat, and try it out.  This really helps to make browsing easy, relaxing, and fun.  

The store has a great location in a strip with many other businesses and is highly visible on the very busy Manchester Road.  There's lots of easy parking and it's all free, something I always appreciate.

Things are going great here and the store has a terrific vibe.  If you haven't been here yet, check it out and you will have a great time.  Lots of great books and some wonderful people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Stephen Florida, Gabe Habash.  A recent release that is underrated.  Story of a senior wrestler attending a small college in North Dakota and his drive and passion to win a national title.  Even at the expense of friends, relationships, and all else.  At times, I thought this writer was over my head but it was a good book.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Munich, Robert Harris.    

Lots of window display space.  

You can start your shopping and find some deals before you walk into the store.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  Devoted readers may recognize the celebrity on the right.  Yes, that's my mom.  Occasional readers may also recognize one of the Indie Bob Spot staffers on the left, Michelle T.  

View looking down one of the store's aisles.  Notice that every book nook has a chair.  I love this!

Here's one of those nooks with its own chair.  

Many indies do this promotion, blind date with a book.  A fun way to buy a book that you might otherwise never have found out about.  Take a chance and give it a try!

A portion of the children's area and their book nooks have their own little stools.  

If you're anywhere near St. Louis, you would be wise to bone up on Cardinal info.  Thankfully, I chose not to wear my Cubs shirt on this visit.  

Another great place to sit and try out a book.  

A very nice area toward the back of the store to sit and discuss your next book pick.  This would be a great place to bring your bookclub.  

Keep your eyes open and you might find out what Cindy is reading.  Make sure you take time to talk to her, she'll give you lots of book ideas.  

Have you ever wondered what the order of books are in a particular series?  

This store has several authors and info posted about the order of their books.  

Another partial view of the children's section.  

Check out this room in the back of the store, the classics room.  

If you're in a Missouri bookstore, you'll probably find some Mark Twain.  

If you're a Civil War buff and don't have this set, come here to check them out.  

Star Wars fans will want to check this out.  

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  

With Cindy on the left and Lauren on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at The Book Rack.  Thanks for a great visit.