Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Book House - Maplewood, MO

The Book House - Maplewood, MO
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Here's the main thing you need to know about The Book House in Maplewood.  This place has books.  I mean, this place REALLY has books.  Yeah, yeah, I know, every indie I visit has books but this place is buried in books.  Approximately 300,000 when you count everything in storage and on the two floors of store space.  Of the 160+ bookstores I've visited up to now, I would have to rank this one in the top ten (maybe top five) in terms of storage space.  I was fortunate during my visit to see all of the on-site storage space including the bowels of the building thanks to Mark G., one of the booksellers.  Additional storage is at Michelle B.'s house (the owner) in her basement and garage.  Bottom line?  Overwhelming.  If you can't find a book here you're really not trying.

The Book House has been around since the mid-1980s but has been in its current location for almost two years.  Mark told me that sales have been great since the move but this is off-set a bit by slightly higher rent.  In my opinion, it seems to be a great location that is highly visible on Manchester Rd. (old Route 66) in the Mapleton neighborhood.  It is surrounded by many other businesses and very accessible for foot traffic.

Obviously, the depth and breadth of inventory is incredible.  You can get new or used books here in every genre imaginable.  The Book House works with a charity pool that supports Second Chapter Life Center and the Children's Home Society.  They donate time and space to their organization and help accept and sort the books for them.  In exchange they get first pick and they buy the books from the charity. A great way to acquire books for their inventory and a super way to engage with community outreach.  New and used books are all shelved together throughout the store.  They also have a strong offering of collectable, vintage, and rare books.  If you have a spare $10,000 you can pick up a 1st edition of The Hobbit.  Any individual who is a collector of rare books would be advised to visit this bookstore.  There are a few greeting cards here but other than that, sidelines are minimal.  The store hosts some book clubs on the lower level and also have weekly live music in the same space.  Book events are also held in this lower level space but mostly with local authors.  They enjoy a strong, local customer base as well as good support from tourists.

I didn't get to meet Michelle on this visit but Mark and Jonathan, two of the staffers, were fantastic to talk to and tell me about the store.  Its obvious Michelle has things figured out and it's easy to see why this bookstore is recognized as one of St. Louis's best.

So the next time you visit St. Louis, you have to make one more stop besides The Arch or the zoo.  There's a bookstore you have to visit that I can GUARANTEE will have your book.  You won't have to look too hard to find one!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons.  Written in 1932, a 21 year old woman from London is forced to live in the country side with her relatives due to the deaths of her parents.  She attempts to "civilize" these relatives and hilarity ensues.  Very British.  If you like British humor and authors, you'll love this one.

CURRENTLY READING:  Jesus Boy, Preston Allen.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury.

One of the front window displays.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  Go down the stairway for the lower level of books, mostly non-fiction.  

View just inside the front entrance.  Community announcements, flyers, and store calendar of events.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance and into the children's section.  

I know I'm in the minority on this but I kind of like the idea of a donation box in an indie.  If you don't buy a book (or even if you do), consider giving the store a "tip", or a "cover charge."  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

There are lots of books available about local interests, these are a few.  

A few of the rare and collectable books available.  

If you sit in this chair to try out a book, at least pretend to be reading.  

I love this picture.  Floor to ceiling bookshelves and books stacked along the floor.  

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

This is what I mean about storage.  This is only one of their storage areas.  See all the boxes in this picture?  They're filled with books, as are the shelves along both walls.  These books haven't even made it to the sales areas yet!

More boxes, more books.  

Yes, more boxes, more books.  You're starting to see what I mean! 

A partial view of the downstairs sales area.  

This is yet another storage area.  

This sign states, "We have MORE books in storage..."  I find this to be an understatement!  

This is a great area on the lower level for bookclubs to meet.  They also have book events and live music in this space.  

With Mark on the left and Jonathan on the right, two of the fine staffers you'll meet at The Book House.  Thanks for a great visit. 

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