Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Chapters - Miami, OK

Chapters, Miami, OK
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This article is my "call-to-arms" to all the fine folks in Miami, OK.  You have a gem in your midst yet some of you haven't visited yet.  What gives?  There is no need to visit a large, discount department store when you have a perfectly fine local, independent business right in the middle of downtown.  A business that will keep your money in the community.  The "shop-local, buy-local" movement is gaining ground all over the country and I think it's an important component for all communities to recognize.  Thankfully, many of the people in Miami are all over this.  

This one-level store in a historic building offers a nice assortment of new books but clearly the strength of the business is its sidelines and cafe.  If you come here and can't find gift ideas you're not trying!  I would compare this store to a museum where you would see something new and different on every visit (newbies, this means you'll have to return).  And I would love to be here if a bus load of kids came in.  They will love this place!  You'll find items for all ages and tastes.  Everything from a line of Vera Bradley and some wonderful designer jewelry produced locally, to fake mustaches.

One of the things that gave the store a big boost was when it was able to offer Starbucks coffee in their cafe.  This brought them more business and also brought in people who otherwise might not have visited.

Chapters has a nice room in the store that's available for use by groups and/or events.  It's also a great area for the monthly book club.  Whether you come here to use this large room or just to see the store you'll enjoy finding easy on-street parking right in front and for free.

I didn't get to meet the owners on this visit but I am so glad I got to meet Lee M., assistant manager.  She was so much fun to talk to and told me a lot about the store and the town.  The store is on a good run dating back to 2006 and I see no reason for it to come to an end anytime soon.

Miami has a population of approximately 13,000 and there are many towns much larger who have nothing like this.  Show your appreciation for this wonderful store with your presence and patronage.  I know all the regular customers will agree!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Evolution Of Bruno Littlemore, Benjamin Hale.  This is a memoir/autobiography of Bruno Littlemore, a chimp who learned how to talk and became very educated.  He "evolved" into a human and he tells his story from captivity in a zoo, to science experiment, living with Lydia, the human love of his life, and all the experiences afterward.  This is a pretty good read but it took me awhile to get into it.  I thought it was a bit verbose and could have been edited down some.  But in the end, I enjoyed the story even though it was weird at times.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Last Night At The Lobster, Stewart O'Nan.

The store has lots of great window display space,  

Lots of stores I visit have a history as another business.  Back in the day, this was the store you'd enter.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Long-time readers may recognize the celebrity on the left powering through the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

This store has EVERYTHING!

If you have a toddler, check these out located near the front entrance.  

A partial view of the kid's section.  

Find this display for bestsellers.  

Every Harry Potter fan in Miami should have one of these.

Find these shelves for children's fiction.  

Find this room near the back of the store, a great space for meetings and/or events.  

A great Oklahoma mural in the meeting room.  

Always ask about gift cards at any indie.  

Women will find many great items to shop for.  

The store has a large cafe counter.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

A nice self-help section.  

If you're goal is to travel Route 66, you'll go right by this store.  Make sure you stop in.  

A good section of history and local interests.  

Grab a coffee, a seat, and a book.  

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

Every kid in Miami needs one of these.  Local teachers, you can thank me later.  

With Lee, one of the fine people you'll meet at Chapters.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Deep Vellum Books & Publishing - Dallas, TX

Deep Vellum Books & Publishing, Dallas, TX
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Readers, you know how I relate to you the uniqueness of all bookstores.  There is no cookie-cutter for how they should or shouldn't be.  But here's what I liked about Deep Vellum Books in Dallas.  I didn't recognize a single book they displayed.  That's right, and I loved it.  Deep Vellum takes its title of independent bookstore to the nth degree and only offers books by small independent presses.  The books they offer here are arranged by their publishers and you'll rarely see any of these at Barnes & Noble.  In fact, many of these can be hard to find at other independent bookstores.  For me, that's what makes this indie so much fun, finding books by new authors and publishers.

This bookstore is located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, surrounded by many restaurants, pubs, and night life, a very cool area.  Its name is a kind of pun on the neighborhood its located in.  The business actually began as a small press 5 years ago and then added the bookstore part 2 years ago.  The good news here is that things are going great and its small press business just published its 30th book.  Congrats Deep Vellum!

Plaque on outside of building noting historical significance.  
The store is a small one-level space with a corner location.  The building is recognized as a historic landmark which was the home for Leadbelly (Heddie Ledbetter), blues guitarist many years ago.  Deep Vellum does not offer the typical sidelines of other indies but does have frequent events in the store which are an important part of the business.  These include author events and readings as well as live music.  The events really help support the business with their sales of wine, beer, and coffee.  They also have some wonderful art work on their walls by local artists and these works are available for purchase.

I was very fortunate during my visit to meet and talk with Cristina, the store manager and I also got to meet Will E., the store owner and founder.  Both of these people are knowledgeable about small presses, their authors, and those books that are published.  When you visit this store, you will be meeting a couple of true experts in their field.

Having trouble picking out your next book?  Want to try something to impress your bookclub?  Make your way to Deep Vellum Books to browse their selection and lean on Will and Cristina for some great advice on your next book.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Bastard Out Of Carolina, Dorothy Allison.  Fiction but undoubtedly a semi-autobiographical account of the author's childhood in the 1950s.  Born to a 15-year old single mother, this story depicts southern poverty among white families at its worse.  Fortunately for Bone, the book's main character, she is surrounded by multiple aunts, uncles, cousins, and a granny who try to help but are challenged by lack of education and booze.  Harrowing and stunning.  I thought this book was outstanding.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Evolution Of Bruno Littlemore,  Benjamin Hale.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Stephen Florida, Gabe Habash.  Nightmare In Berlin, Hans Fallada.  

Another exterior view.  

Sign outside Deep Vellum, a Dallas bookstore.  I live in the midwest.  Everything is relative!

One of the exterior display windows.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Habitual readers may recognize the celebrity on the left.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance and a wall of books by small independent presses.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

Some of the small presses with books in the store.  Books are shelved according to publishers.  

A couple of great places to sit and sample a book.  Or a wine.  

Lots of books facing with the covers out.  A great thing for the indies who have the space to do this.  

Have a seat and try a book.  

Take time to check-out the art work around the store by local artists, much of it available for purchase.  

Lots of great work in the store.  

The name of a bookstore AND the name of a publisher.  

Books in a plain brown wrapper, consider it a blind date.  I love this promotion that many indies have.  

Here's a close-up of one of the "blind dates."

A variety of beverages available.  

A ladder that rolls on rails in case you need to see a higher shelf.  

Wine in a can and I hear it's pretty good.

With Will on the left and Cristina in the middle, two of the fine people you'll meet at Deep Vellum Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Interabang Books - Dallas, TX

Interabang Books, Dallas, TX
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This is the interabang, right in the front window.  
There are some bookstores I visit that make me curious about their name and this is one of them.  What the heck is an Interabang and how did they come up with it?  Interabang is a question mark and exclamation mark superimposed on top of each other.  It represents curiosity and excitement.  This certainly explained both of my feelings as I entered this store.  And as Jeremy E., the operating partner of the store told me, they didn't want to go with something boring.  Mission accomplished. 

The Dallas area has been a slow bookstore scene for many years but that is beginning to change thanks in part to Interabang Books.  This is another new bookstore and has only been in business for 6 months.  As Jeremy told me, it's about changing people's habits and that will take time.  But so far things are off to a great start and there is strong support from a core of the community that wants to see this store succeed.

As for the physical presence of the store, it's absolutely beautiful (I've been on a streak of these lately!).  A one-level space that is long and wide that feels very spacious and roomy for easy browsing.  Every single table display is on wheels that allows the store to be transformed into a great event space that can hold up to 100 people.  The big eye-catcher when you enter the store is the cartoon mural on the center wall with a talk bubble that displays different messages about books clubs, events, store info, etc.  It was even painted and created by Jeremy which confirms my belief that booksellers are multi-talented.  I haven't seen anything like this and it is so indie!

The store offers an extensive inventory of new books and a variety of sidelines including some upscale items like a line of purses, handbags, and totes by Knomo.  The children's section is good-sized and has its own beautiful mural there.  Heck, this store is so attractive that they even have decorative artwork in the bathroom.  And as with many of my bookstore visits, I met a lovely pair of lady customers, one of whom was a bookseller at Hatchards Bookstore near Picadilly Circus in London.  Man, I love this gig!

Jeremy, and Lisa P., the children's book buyer, were simply fantastic to meet and talk to.  Readers, you don't have to tell me I'm lucky, I'm aware and thankful for every visit.  But in Dallas, not everyone has discovered this place yet.  Ok, the cat's out of the bag Dallas, check this place out and take a friend but allow plenty of time.  You'll be curious and excited for a long time.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Shipping News, Annie Proulx.  Didn't.  This book is arguably recognized as the author's best work but I just could not get into it and it didn't hold my attention.  The author's writing style just didn't click for me.  But there are many who disagree with me so give it a try.    

CURRENLTY READING:  Bastard Out Of Carolina, Dorothy Allison.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Last Suppers, Mandy Mikulencak.  Munich, Robert Harris.

Another exterior view.  

The store has lots of window display space.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  My pictures don't do this store justice.    

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  Intuitive readers will notice the curious celebrity at the table display.  Yes, that's my mom.  

The lighting and the fixtures in the store are outstanding.  

This wall to the right of the front entrance is where you'll find some of the staff picks.  

Jeremy did the outstanding artwork on this wall.  Notice that talk bubble?  Now look at the pictures below.  

If you get tired of browsing books, put your eyes on this beautiful wall and see what they're talking about.

This is incredibly creative.  They talk about MUCH more than what you see here.  

Magazines and periodicals.  

A great place to sit and try out a few books.  

One of my favorite pictures in any bookstore but this is definitely one long wall of books.  

Many bookstores carry socks with goofy phrases.  These are socks with positive affirmations.  

The store carries a wide variety of sidelines. 

Weiner dog bookends for your dog-lover.  

These are the books that are shelved behind the cartoon mural wall.  There is more space in this store than what you see upon entering.  

Visual confirmation.  Not available on Amazon.  

The Indie Bob Spot does not often show the pictures of bathroom interiors but good grief, look how beautiful these walls are!

View looking into the children's section.  

Another great mural in the store.  This is in the children's section.  

Sorry for the blur but the UPS guy was flying by with more new books.   

An overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance.  

Looking for a DIY doll?  You'll find it here.  

If you're like me, you can barely get into the store without being distracted by new books.  Thankfully, this is right by the front entrance.  

With Jeremy on the left and Lisa in the middle, two of the fine folks you'll meet at Interabang Books.  Thanks for a great visit.