Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Iconoclast Books - Ketchum, ID

Iconoclast Books - Ketchum, ID
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This bookstore is another stop along my long national journey documenting independent bookstores and it's another one that causes me to shake my head.  How the heck do they do it here?  This town of approximately 3000 is home to 2 terrific independent bookstores.  Regular readers know I've been to towns of 50,000+ that have nothing yet this town supports two.  It seems to me that the community takes books and literature very seriously here.  After all, Ernest Hemingway spent his final years here and is even buried in Ketchum.  This area is also host to the annual Sun Valley Writers Conference, an event that attracts many renowned authors.  And even though the population is small, the area is very attractive to tourists who enjoy outdoor summer and winter activities.  Put all these factors together and you have a great place for Iconoclast Books.

The bookstore started out many years ago selling all used books but now sells lots of new and used.  Its been in its current downtown location for about 10 years, in a very attractive space that fits perfectly with all the other local businesses.  I was especially glad that the bookstore's cafe has outside seating all around the store's corner location, perfect for the beautiful June day of my visit.  The store is host to author events off-site at the community library.  You'll also find rare and vintage books here, but as the store has evolved this is not as prominent as it used to be.  Customers are offered store credit or cash for their used books and these are shelved right along side the new books.  The cafe is a very important part of the business as well as the variety of sidelines.  I thought the store had a nice variety of regional themed jewelry.

Sarah H., the owner, wasn't in during my morning visit but the store was in excellent hands with Beth who was wonderful to talk to.  Beth was very persuasive that I should come back to meet Sarah later in the day.  Sarah's life and this bookstore are quite a story and you can learn more about both on the Iconoclast website.  I think Sarah is doing a great job here and it was confirmed by a customer who overheard our conversation and heartily endorsed Sarah and the store.  But her success hasn't come without challenges.  Iconoclast began in Seattle by her husband, Gary, before coming to Ketchum.  After Gary's tragic death in an auto accident, Sarah became the sole owner.  She told me lots about the business including its dependence on tourists, many who come from areas with no bookstores and genuinely appreciate finding an independent bookstore.  

My question is, what about the local residents?  Do they know how fortunate they are?  I think the citizens of Ketchum want to do the right thing.  So if you haven't been to Iconoclast, now is the time. This is one gem of a bookstore and if you haven't been here, check it out.  You'll have a great experience and you'll enjoy meeting Sarah and Beth, two of the rock stars at Iconoclast.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls.  Absolutely outstanding and a must read.  Memoir of the author's impoverished childhood growing up in the 60s and 70s and her ability to succeed and overcome unbelievable obstacles.  This one will stay with you for awhile.  If you haven't read this one yet, go to your favorite indie and buy it.  Very readable.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Our Souls At Night, Kent Haruf.

A portion of the wonderful outdoor seating area.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  There is also an entrance toward the back of the store where the cafe is located.  

One of the many displays, near the front entrance.  

Display of award winning books.  

Display of Indie Bound recommendations.  

Another great view looking through the store.  Continue straight from here into the cafe.  

Attractive display of handbags available here.  You'll need one of these to put your books in!

Some of the sidelines available including jewelry.  

You'll find all things Hemingway here.  

Display of those unique and quirky items you find at an independent bookstore.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I had to include this t-shirt.  What's wrong with this picture?!

View looking into the cafe from the bookstore area.  

I wish I could make this picture larger so you could see all the excellent offerings in the cafe's display case.  

A portion of the children's section.  

View from the cafe looking toward the front entrance of the bookstore.  

Think of this as a giant iPad, located in the cafe.  This would be a great feature in all indies!  

Rare and vintage books were a big part of the store's beginning.   

The store features a book of the day, conveniently located at the checkout counter.  

The Sun Valley Writers Conference is a huge author event in this area.  

With Beth on the right, my morning host at the store.  

With Sarah on the left, my afternoon host at the store.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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