Monday, September 17, 2018

Authors Books & Music - Warren, PA


Authors Books & Music, Warren, PA

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Small towns across the country are increasingly dependent on their communities understanding the importance of, "shop local, buy local."  This concept is critical to the vibrancy of any small town and this is true of Warren, PA, population of approximately 15,000, including the surrounding area.  As Michael Y., the co-owner along with wife Shannon told me, they've had the bookstore for about nine years and the store's business has grown but has now leveled off.  And although Authors Books & Music has some good local regulars, many of their customers come from out-of-town.  What does this mean?  It means that now, more than ever, this store and other small businesses in Warren needs the support and patronage of the fine people of Warren.  Shop local, buy local, saves communities, I've seen it!

After visiting Authors Books & Music I know why it has devoted regular customers.  A small, one-level space with a good variety of used books at great prices.  They also offer CDs, DVDs, music on vinyl, sheet music, and historical posters of concerts and sporting events to name just a few.  The music on vinyl is doing especially well.  They offer store credit or cash for these used items and for books in good condition.  Some of their customers even donate books to the store, a wonderful gesture.  One of my favorite things here are the caricatures of four authors called Mt. Readmore (make sure sure you see the picture below), created by Michael himself (I keep telling you, bookstore owners are talented people).

I love these paper mâché caricatures that Michael created.  Who are the authors featured?  Scroll to the bottom of the article for the answer.  

When you visit here you'll have a great time meeting and talking to Michael.  He was wonderful to meet and kindly answered lots of my questions.  You'll enjoy the store as well as his expertise.  And if his artistic talents aren't enough, he's also a devoted Marx Brothers scholar having even written a book about them.

So this is where you come in, Warren.  Regular customers, keep returning and bring a friend or two who've never been to Authors Books & Music.  Even if they're not readers, surely they can find a gift, some music, or a movie.  This is a great place with a great owner and I don't want Warren to lost it.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Schlump, Hans Herbert Grimm.  If you like WWI lit you'll like this.  Published anonymously in 1928 and subsequently burned in the 1930s by the Nazis, this work of fiction depicts the stark realities of war through a German soldier, Schlump.  From his duty as administrator of a French village to the depressing experience of trench warfare.  It's labeled fiction but it is most certainly semi-autobiographical.  Recommended.      

CURRENTLY READING:  The President Is Missing, James Patterson & Bill Clinton.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Freddy The Cowboy, Walter R. Brooks.  Freddy And The Baseball Team From Mars, Walter R. Brooks.  


One of the store's front display windows.  

Always check out the quote of the week.  I think Michael is very creative in presenting the store.

A beautiful sign at any indie.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Intrepid readers undoubtedly recognize the famous right elbow of an illusive celebrity.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  

A couple of great places to sit and try out a book near the front entrance.  

This is the display you'll see just inside the front door.  

Shakespeare fans will want this set.  

Check out the pick-of-the-week display just to the right after entering the store.

Start browsing, this will take awhile!

A great inventory with super prices.  

Looking for a unique button?  Make sure you find this display.

Classic sheet music.  

Just a few of the movies available on DVD.  

They even have movies available on VHS for dinosaurs like me!

Lots of music on CDs.  

Baseball history buffs should be all over this.  

Their collection of music on vinyl is extensive.  

I told my mom I would buy her this.  She passed.  

A clever way to have King Kong display his movie.  

Piano players will enjoy looking through their inventory of sheet music.  


View looking from the rear of the store toward the front entrance.  
Michael is a Marx Brothers expert. Ask him anything!

With Michael on the right, the fine co-owner of Authors Books & Music.  Thanks for a great visit.

 (Here's your answer for the authors in Mt. Readmore, L-R, Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain.  How did you do?)


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Homer Bookstore - Homer, AK

The Homer Bookstore, Homer, AK
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Bookstores like this one absolutely confound me!  They shouldn't because I've seen successful ones just like it with similar histories and backgrounds.  This indie is in a community of approximately 5000 but with the surrounding environs approximately 12,000.  They have been in business forty years.  HOW?!  This town in Alaska is basically the end of the line.  Go any further and you need a passport.  But survive and thrive it has and the good news according to owners Jenny S., Sue P., and Lee P., is that they are seeing what many other indies are.  The pendulum is swinging back toward indies, this store is showing positive growth, and with these three terrific owners and their experience I think they have a bright future.  People, if they can do it in Homer, AK, it can be done anywhere!

This bookstore has an attractive exterior and to me is especially cheery in the summer, the day of my visit.  They offer all new books in a one-level setting as well as a variety of sidelines including t-shirts, greeting cards, journals, and Alaskan chocolate which sells very well.  They made their mark with sidelines though a few years ago when they carried Alaskan-themed beanie babies.  A shrewd marketing move that paid off!  The store holds events and as Sue told me, they hold more than people would think.  I've learned that Alaska has a good population of published authors and that's beneficial for all of the Alaskan indies.

As with other Alaska bookstores, I thought that books about Alaska, things to do and see, guidebooks, and maps were particularly good.  The store's customers visit roughly during their respective seasons.  Regulars and locals during the winters and tourists in the summers.  Lee also attributes part of the store's success to the fact that Homer's local population is well-educated, mostly transplants from other parts of the country.

I hit the trifecta on this visit by meeting Jenny, Sue, and Lee, the three owners who were all present.  This was a big deal because the three are rarely here all together.  It was my lucky day to meet these wonderful people who were thoroughly engaging and so fun to to talk to.  It is clear to me why this store is so darn successful.  If you're in Homer and haven't been here yet (unbelievable!), good grief get with it.  Visit a legendary bookstore worthy of national recognition and the super people who work there.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman.  I'll bet this becomes a movie so you should read this first.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Eleanor Oliphant is an average woman, average looking, average build, average job, with an ironclad constitution.  She is socially awkward, sometimes the butt of jokes, but goes about her business.  But someone at work takes an interest in her and slowly she warms to little gestures of kindness for no reason at all.  But she has a hidden history that is slowly revealed through the book.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Schlump, Hans Herbert Grimm.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent.  Man In Hole, Doug Dodd.  Not purchased but gifted, a very hip Homer Bookstore book bag.  Thanks Lee.


A beautiful bookstore in a beautiful part of the country.  

Original art work above the entrance.  

I love this caricature of a reader on the front porch.  

Nice display window and I usually apologize for the glare but you can see scenic Alaska reflected.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

A few of the Alaskan-themed items.  

Display of some of the new releases.  

Specialty magazines available near the front entrance.  


Lots of Alaska maps and guides to choose from.  

As much regional and local interest books as anywhere I've visited.  

Science in the Summer wall display.  

An extensive assortment of greeting cards.  

There are a variety of journals offered. 

This is one of the benches you can sit on and there are several located around the store.  But they're more than benches, they're works of art.  

A great place to sit and sample a few books.  Bring your bookclub here.  


When you get ready to check out with your book, pick up a paper.  

I love this display, guaranteed good staff picks.  

All the artistic benches are unique.  

I love this promotion and have found it at many other bookstores.  

This is how it works.  

Display of books by local authors.  

The owners tell me that this Alaska chocolate is outstanding.  

Grab a coffee to keep you company while you browse.  

A portion of the children's section.  

I think kids will love these.  

From L-R, yours truly, Jenny, Lee, and Sue.  Some of the fine folks you'll meet at The Homer Bookstore.  Thanks for a great visit.