Sunday, February 17, 2019

Read A Book Nook - Marshalltown, IA

Read A Book Nook, Marshalltown, IA
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After so many bookstore visits, I didn't think my admiration for bookstore owners could get any higher but that's exactly what happened for me after meeting Wendy S., the owner of Read A Book Nook.  Wendy is part of that connected fabric of owners throughout the country who do such a great job.  She's a one person staff (with one person of occasional volunteer help) that brings an enthusiasm, growing knowledge, and passion for books and her store.  The store's birth one year ago and subsequent success to date falls squarely on her shoulders even though she's had great support from family and friends.  But make no mistake, Wendy is the reason for this store's successful start.  Congratulations to her and Marshalltown.

As for bookstores, this is about the only option for miles around.  The business growth here is definitely community driven by a town that has enthusiastically welcomed this new bookstore.  Many of the regular customers also come from several nearby smaller towns who prefer visiting here rather than larger cities.  The store has a wonderful inventory of 10,000 books which are mostly used with a few new.  Many of these books are donated and customers can get store credit for the books they bring in.  And if they donate over 30 books, they can receive a lifetime benefit of 5% off every purchase, just one of the several custom perks.  The one-level store shares business space with Griego's Thrift & Collectibles and Shirley's Crochet & More in the 3rd Ave Buzzar.  This is a great arrangement to share rent and utilities.  The bookstore is now in its second location very near downtown and much more visible then its original space.  Wendy's store began with 60 books and 3 bookshelves, a story other indie owners may be able to identify with.  From these humble beginnings, Marshalltown has added a wonderful establishment to its retail footprint.

As with many new bookstores, the word is still getting out about Read A Book Nook.  If you're in Marshalltown, anywhere nearby, or just passing through, here you go.  Help spread the word to shop local, buy local, and take pride in knowing that you have a terrific owner and her business in your community.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya.  Some have called this one of the best-known works in contemporary Chicano fiction.  Story of a boy growing up in New Mexico after WWII and his family's challenges with some bad characters.  Combines mysticism with Native American beliefs and Catholicism.  Themes include murder, revenge, redemption, witchcraft, and school bullies.  This book is banned in some school districts.  I enjoyed this one.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Becoming, Michelle Obama.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Mississippi Blood, Greg Iles.


View looking into the store from the front entrance.  


View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  Behind this display you'll find the two other businesses that make up the 3rd Ave Buzzarr.  Griegos's Thrift & Collectibles and Shirley's Crochet & More.  


Display of popular fiction.  

If you're a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, you definitely need to check out this display case at the check-out counter.  

If you're a Danielle Steel fan in Marshalltown and haven't been here yet, you're missing out.  

If you have an interest in collectible editions, always ask about what they have.  

Just like every other bookstore!

View looking into the middle room.  More fiction and children's.

A portion of the children's section and a little table for little readers.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

An antique book display from Lang Books.  

These books are shelved in the passageway that leads to the third room, which is actually a vault from when this was a bank. 

View looking into the third room, the "vault."  Lots of non-fiction in this room.  Readers might recognize Indie Bob Spot staffer, Michelle T.  

View looking toward the front entrance from the middle room.  

The store has a large storage area in the back of the building.  This is not yet open to the public but might be available at some point in the future. 

View looking into the partner businesses' space from the bookstore.  

For every indie owner enduring this brutal winter season all across the country, these are essential.  Here at Read A Book Nook, the bag of salt and shovel are in a place of honor by the front door!

With Wendy, the fine owner at Read A Book Nook.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Book Corner - Bloomington, IN

The Book Corner, Bloomington, IN
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Family.  Clearly and easily that is the story behind the success of this wonderful, long-running independent bookstore in Bloomington.  I heard it in the words from Patty W., the store manager, and witnessed it myself with the customers who came into the store on the day of my visit.  Not family in the biological sense, but family in the sense of closeness that a business develops over time.  Closeness with customers and the closeness of the relationships within a bookstore's staff.  The relationship of this bookstore with the community began back in December 1964 and has bloomed long enough to see 2nd generations of customers from the same families.  This strong, local customer base is what has enabled The Book Corner to endure, survive, and now with the renaissance of independent bookstores, thrive and prosper.  Way to go Book Corner and way to go Bloomington.

The one-level store has been in the same space the entire length of its run.  An excellent corner location on the town square.  Before becoming a bookstore, this space was home to a bank.  The Book Corner offers all new books and a variety of sidelines.  Patty told me that jigsaw puzzles and greeting cards sell especially well.  They also offer a good assortment of magazines and a variety of newspapers including the New York Times, right outside the front door.  I thought their section offering Penguin classics was outstanding.  They'll occasionally host authors for signing events right in the store but if they land someone who can bring in a big crowd, they have another option for hosting off-site.  Remarkably, the store sees lots of tourists and out-of-town customers, a nice complement to the local regulars.  

After meeting Patty and bookseller Kathy L., I can see why the store's sense of family is so strong here.  These two ladies are characteristically bookstore friendly and regular readers of this blog know how much I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate meeting these fantastic people.  I even got to witness one of the store's customer service perks of free gift wrapping (I wish every indie could do this).

Bloomington, IN is a college town home of the University of Indiana.  Next time you go to one of those Hoosier basketball games, allow yourself some extra time before or after to visit and enjoy a legendary bookstore.  If you haven't visited yet get with it, you're 54 years late.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Friend, Sigrid Nunez.  National Book of the Year award winner.  Work of fiction but it makes you wonder if there are threads of truth within.  A writer commits suicide and leaves behind a pet dog.  Nobody wants the dog but it ends up going to a female friend and colleague who had never owned a dog and was a cat person.  The friend takes the Great Dane even though she lives in a small apartment that doesn't allow dogs.  This sounds simplistic but the story is about way more than this.  It talks about suicide, grief, writing, and relationships.  For once, an award-winning book that I enjoyed.  Recommended.    

CURRENLY READING:  Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway.   


View from across the street.  Prior to 1964, this was a bank.  

Before you go into the store, look back over your shoulder at the beautiful government building in the town square.  

Front display window.  

Nationally recognized papers for sale outside the front entrance.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Some great cards available immediately inside the front door.  

Immediately to the right after entering is an attractive book display of bestsellers.  


These are 3-D pop-up greeting cards.  Very unique and something I have not seen in many bookstores.  


A very generous offering of magazines, located near the front of the store.

At the check-out counter, don't miss the large number of sidelines available.   

A good section of travel guides.   

A very nice section of nature books and materials.  

These are only a few of the jigsaw puzzles here.  You'll find them displayed throughout the store.  

A variety of journals can be found throughout.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

These are all the Penguin classics editions, found toward the back of the store.  If you can't find a worthy classic here, you're not trying!

Kids are going to love these.  

An overview of the store looking from the back in the children's section toward the front entrance.  

Indie customer service is fantastic.  

With Kathy, one of the fine staffers you'll meet at The Book Corner.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bookstore1 Sarasota - Sarasota, FL

Bookstore1 Sarasota, Sarasota, FL
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If you're a follower of this blog and you happen to be a bookseller or indie owner, there's a chance I might visit you at your bookstore.  That's exactly how I found my way to Bookstore1 Sarasota.  Andrea G., one of the store booksellers, became known to me as a follower of this blog on social media.  Luckily, her profile included her information as bookseller and media person here at Bookstore1 Sarasota.  And now I can happily say that I've met Andrea, Kate T., the store manager, and Georgia C., the store owner.  On top of that, I got to visit an incredible and beautiful bookstore in an attractive area of downtown Sarasota (FYI, I look forward to meeting all of you who work at bookstores and have viewed this blog).

This bookstore sparkles from the minute you walk in.  Bookstore1 Sarasota is a medium-sized, one-level store offering all new books and a good variety of sidelines.  This is a new location for the store having only occupied this space for the last two years.  They moved here from a nearby building, the original location when the store opened 8 years ago.  Kate told me that things are going well for the business and Andrea added that things go well here in the winter months, which can be a far cry for bookstores in the midwest or eastern regions of the country.  

I thought two of the best things here were the staff pick displays and their busy author events schedule.  You cannot turn around in here without bumping into a display of staff picks in several genres.  If that isn't enough, you'll find "shelf-talkers" posted throughout the store in all genres and on all shelves.  Outstanding.  As for events, they stay busy hosting on-site or Andrea can hook the store up with her contacts in the libraries to use those spaces for large events.

But as usual, the BEST part of my visits are the wonderful people I meet.  Andrea, Kate, and Georgia are only three of the rock stars who work here.  My only regret is that I didn't get to meet the rest of the Bookstore1 Sarasota cast!

So whether you're a tourist or a nearby resident, don't make the mistake of missing this bookstore and the terrific people who work there.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, Helene Tursten.  Collection of stories, all related, about 88-year old Maud who lives in an apartment by herself.  Some people just really tick her off and she has to take justice into her own hands.  Who knew a walker could be so lethal?  This is a very quick read and enjoyable, something maybe a little different and a nice change of pace by a Swedish author.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Friend, Sigrid Nunez.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Pride Of The Yankees, Richard Sandomir.  A Meal In Winter, Hubert Mingarelli.  Not purchased but gifted, because I guess Kate really did think I have nothing to read!  Notes On A Nervous Planet, Matt Haig.  The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman.  Thanks Kate.



From across the street, this is the view you'll get of the store located on ground level.  Notice tropical trees and lack of snow.  

Enter here, right at the corner.  


Make sure you check into the store's active events schedule.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Display of 2018 top-sellers.  How many have you read?  

One of my favorite things when I visit a store is seeing the staff picks and reading their reviews.  This display is one of several at Bookstore1 Sarasota.  

Timely display of new fiction.  

Right next to the new fiction you'll find this display of new non-fiction.  

Most Florida bookstores will have really good travel sections.  

Lots of bookclubs make this their home.  

If you have a Harry Potter fan in the family and they don't have Harry Potter socks yet, this store has you covered.  And they have more than just this pair!

More staff picks.  

A nice section of classics.  

A very representative poetry section.  

Here's a display of nonfiction staff picks.  

I liked this picture not so much for what it displayed, but what it was displayed ON!  Not your everyday table display!

A really nice assortment of reading glasses.  For those of us who lose ours or break them, this is a welcomed sideline.  

A nice place to sit and try a book or decide what magazines you want to get.  

 More than just books.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

A great "fort" for a kid to hideout with a book.  

If you're a regular customer, this is a no-brainer.  SIGN UP!

Very creative window display done by one of the booksellers using an old ice box for the base, adding books, and making this Japanese themed structure.  I've found booksellers to be some of the most creative people anywhere.  

Just a few of the items of local and regional interest.  

Dystopian staff picks.  I told you, they have staff picks for everything.  

A nice nook of fiction off to the right in the store.  

Perfectly situated in the nice nook of fiction.  

Cast your eyes around the tops of the walls and you'll see photos of many of the authors who have visited here.  

From L-R:  Kate, Georgia, and Andrea, some of the fine folks you'll meet at Bookstore1 Sarasota.  Thanks for a great visit.