|Alma Libre Bookstore - Puerto Morales, Mexico|
Readers, this is the life. As I sit here writing this entry somewhere south of Cancun, the gentle breezes caress my pasty-white midwestern skin (how's that for Descriptive Writing 101? HA!). I casually eat my fresh mango and feel the spirit of Ernest Hemingway as I gaze across the gulf waters toward Cuba. This all sounds very nice but I couldn't get to this point without visiting a bookstore which is exactly what I did. Take a short trip south along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and you'll come to the small town of Puerto Morelos, home of Alma Libre Bookstore, the only bookstore in the Yucatan Peninsula area. Since it's the only one in the area, you must visit it when you vacation here. The Indie Bob Spot is no longer just a national project. It just went international.
Alma Libre is located right on the square of Puerto Morelos and you can easily see the gulf from the store, a mere block away. I was curious to find out the differences between this indie and the many indies I've visited in the States. There is no ABA (American Booksellers Association) or any similar organization here in Mexico. Indies here are on their own. Getting books here is a huge challenge because of all the red tape you have to go through. Since 99% of the customers here are English-speaking tourists, the store sells primarily English books, both new and used. And because the postal service here is so dreadfully bad, they don't have the concerns about Amazon that the bookstores in the States have. Customers in Mexico who order through Amazon sometimes never see their book arrive.
Alma Libre is owned by Rob and Joanne B., two Canadians. On the day of my visit I met Joanne and had a great talk with her. She couldn't have been nicer and more welcoming. The store has been here for 18 years and Rob and her have been the owners for 13 years. Like many US indies, they need their sidelines in order to keep the business going, which is a challenge. They've tried to stay open in the summer months but no longer do so since there are no tourists and no local business. They return to their homes in Canada in May and then come back to Puerto Morelos in November. When they return to Puerto Morelos, they bring about 5000 books to stock their store. They also place occasional orders with a US distributor who is willing to help them and also through sources in Mexico. Joanne has done a great job of knowing exactly what to have in the store and what the tourists want, which includes books of local and regional interests. There are also books here by local authors. Some of the books in highest demand by customers are classics and sci-fi. They don't have author events here but Joanne is open to it. Because of the tourist customer base, however, she is unsure if they would be successful.
Joanne is like so many other bookstore owners I've met on my journey. Friendly to talk to, receptive to my visit, and knowledgeable about her business and her customer base. If you're not interested in a book, you can always contact her about rentals in Puerto Morales, a small town you would enjoy seeing. I know many of you have visited some of the bookstores I've shared with you in the States. And now you must expand your horizons to a fantastic little bookstore in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, not far from Cancun. After all, you're going to need a book for all your beach time! Ir a un indie y compar un libro. Buenas Noches.
CURRENTLY READING: Sycamore Row, John Grisham. Almost done. Loving it.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: Gifted actually, Secrets Of The Talking Jaguar, Martín Prechtel. Thanks Joanne.
|View from the outside.|
|This is the front window. The store has a very open air feeling to it.|
|Continue through this inner doorway and you're in the store.|
|View looking straight back through the store.|
|A few of the sidelines in the front. Some of you more devoted readers may recognize the right elbow of The Indie Bob Spot's graphic artist, Cheryl M.|
|Books of local interest.|
|Have a seat and browse a book.|
|The book bags here have a Mexican flair.|
|Some of the figurines that are very popular here.|
|A great selection of classics which are huge with the tourists here.|
|One of the book aisles looking toward the front.|
|One of the book aisles.|
|Another spot to try out a book.|
|View from the rear of the store looking toward the front.|
|Staff picks can be found here just like any other indie you visit.|
|With Joanne, the fine co-owner at Alma Libre. Thanks for a great visit.|