Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dragonfly Books - Decorah, IA

Dragonfly Books - Decorah, IA

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Happy Birthday Dragonfly Books!  Dragonfly Books has been open 4 years and celebrates its birthday this month.  This is an indie success story in a small northern Iowa community of approximately 8000.  After talking to the owner, Kate R., it's obvious that the success here falls squarely on her shoulders.  She knows the community, she knows books, and she knows business.  I think four years of business is a mere prelude for a long, successful run.

Everyone battles a mid-life crisis in their own way.  Some people will buy an expensive sports car, some might go on a long, soul-searching journey, some will burn through lots of money, some might visit bookstores (good grief, who would do that?!).  Or some might decide to open a bookstore.  That's exactly what Kate did in her hometown of Decorah, IA.  She wandered through academia, financial services, music, and library sciences but I have a feeling that owning a bookstore was in there all along.  After visiting this community, I can't imagine it NOT having a bookstore.  It attracts a nice mix of customers who are local and within a 75 mile radius, tourists (especially in the summer months), and people with connection at the local college, Luther College.

The one-level store has a great location in the heart of the downtown business district on a main street.  You can find recent bestsellers and also a nice assortment of children's and young adult.  The store is active with author events on-site and can accommodate up to 50 people.  Kate is considering some off-site options as well for larger crowds.  It's impressive that a bookstore in this small community has an events coordinator on staff, a great sign for an engaged business.  There are only a few sidelines here, all the more remarkable that the store can succeed with a minimum of these.  There are no used books available here and that doesn't seem to be something that will be changing in the near future.

It was hard to believe that on the week day morning of my visit in this small Iowa town, Dragonfly was enjoying a steady stream of business.  How fortunate for this community to have a vital, energetic bookstore.  Lots of towns around the country would be lucky to have a bookstore like this.  In honor of its 4 year birthday, I didn't bake a cake or bring it a present.  Instead, I bought a couple of books.  Mid-life crisis resolved!  Do not pass up a chance to visit this unique town with many unique shops, and one very special independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Sycamore Row, John Grisham.  Loved it.  If you're a Grisham fan and haven't read this yet, move it to the top of your list.

JUST FINISHED:  Andre The Giant: Life And Legend, Box Brown.  Not my typical kind of book but gave it a try based on a bookseller's recommendation.  A cartoon biography, or graphic novel, of Andre The Giant.  True story of his challenging life in all-star wrestling.  Interesting.  I liked it and it is very quick.

CURRENTLY READING:  In The Shadow Of The Banyan, Vaddey Ratner.  Enjoying it.  Probably one of the best books nobody knows about.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Boundary Waters, William Kent Krueger.  Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger.

Dragonfly Books from across the street.  

One of the window displays.

View looking straight back through the store from the front door.  Alert readers may recognize the celebrity sighting.   Yes, that's my mom in the front left foreground.  

Have a seat and try out a book.  

February means Valentine's Day and this indie is ready!

A few greeting cards by Decorah High School art students.  If you're going to have sidelines, this is a great idea.  

One of the book aisles looking toward the rear.  

Some sidelines for the kids.

View from the rear of the store looking toward the front.  

Looking for some puzzles?  Pick one up with the book you're going to get!

Are you kidding me?  Who doesn't like PooPooPaper?!  You'll be doing the planet a favor by buying some!

A great sign above the door.

With Kate R., the fine owner at Dragonfly Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. Bob, thank you so much for highlighting Kate and her wonderful store. Kate, the store looks so beautiful (can you please come help me sometime? )
    I have to comment here to tell everyone what a wonderful person Kate is. I would like to think that if we lived in the same town she'd let me be friends with her. Because we're hours apart I have to settle for her always kind, insightful and caring messages on facebook. Anyone who gets to be friends with her in real life better not take her for granted!

  2. If there's one thing I've observed in my many bookstore visits it's that there is a sisterhood/brotherhood among the owners. One more reason for customers to visit Dragonfly and other indies, the nice owners you get to meet when you go there!