Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Book Escape - Baltimore, MD

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD
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Everyone should be greeted and welcomed the way I was at The Book Escape.  I always take pictures of the store fronts on my visits, sometimes several.  The entire time I'm taking exterior pictures I was distracted by a man just inside the front door who was waving madly at me.  I had sent a note to Andrew S., the owner, but didn't think he would be quite this excited about my visit.  As I entered the store I was greeted as a conquering hero, not by Andrew, but by Coard, a store customer.  Heck, it took me 15 minutes of bookstore talk with Coard before I even got to say hi to Andrew.  What a pleasure it is for me on this journey to not only meet the owners and booksellers, but the customers like Coard who make visits to bookstores such a great part of my endeavor.  Just another experience that you can't get from Amazon.

As Andrew told me, the store has a pretty good location and has been here the entire 18 years of its existence.  It has good visibility on the very busy High St. and is in the Federal Hill area.  It has the Federal Hill businesses on one side and the harbor tourist area on the other.  The store offers mostly used books with some new, all on a one-level space with multiple rooms and nooks.  Don't be fooled by the one-level inventory however (which is extensive), because there is a basement full of books and a 2nd floor full of books all waiting to find their way to the main floor.  Chances are good they might have what you're looking for.  They also offer an assortment of collectable books, DVDs, and CDs.  

The most impressive thing to me though was the fine artwork available here, especially the Russian artwork created by Andrew's wife.  Intricately painted jewelry, uniquely decorative jewelry boxes, and much more.  If you are interested in Russian artwork this store is a must see.  The store does a lot of its business though online sales and I would strongly encourage you to check out some of this artistry in person or online.

Business is going well here and weekends are especially busy.  You'll find several parking options nearby so that helps to make a visit easy.  And you get to meet terrific 2-legged people like Coard and gentle 4-legged hosts like Lavonda, the store dog.  A win-win for everyone who visits.  So in addition to the great tourist sites, make sure you include this indie the next time you visit Baltimore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Hearts Of Men, Nickolas Butler.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Wright Brothers, David McCullough.


Another exterior view.  

If you enjoy historical buildings, check out this 1920 fire dept building, right across the street.  

An award-winning indie.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  

I don't know how anyone could resist Lavonda!


Unique and artistic jewelry.  

You'll need to refresh yourself to see everything in this bookstore!

A few of the books of local interest or by local authors.  

Find this area to see a few of the collectable and vintage books.  

If you're visiting from out of town, these are always a good buy.  

If you're in Baltimore, you need to know about Cal Ripken.  


There are lots of kids and YA books in the store.  

There are several nooks in the store like this one.  I love nooks like this!


This store has many areas to cover so consulting this map is a good idea.  

Get some music to go with the book you'll buy.  

Nice display of award-winning books.  

A couple of great places to sit and try out a book.   

Keep going.  After you get to the back of the main room, follow the walkway to the left...

...you'll go through this patio area...

...and then enter another room filled with books.  This is how that room looks after you enter looking toward the left, which is the front of the building.  

Another great area to browse or sit.  

This is the front of that second room.  You have to visit this space, lots of great art work in this area.  


A view of the artwork in the front of the 2nd room, several genres.  


A very ornately framed portrait of Tsar Nicholas the 2nd and it is for sale.  This is a must-see if you stop in the store.  

I love this sign outside the store!

With Andrew on the right holding Lavonda.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Ivy Bookshop - Baltimore, MD

The Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, MD
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I'm aware that many people may have misconceptions about what it's like to be a bookstore owner.  Many may think that these people while away their days discussing high literature (something NOT found in this blog, by the way), reading books, petting the cat, and sipping coffee.  But readers, I must tell you it isn't as glamorous as all this.  In fact, did you know that many indie owners are required to take out their own garbage and recycling?  I offer to you photographic evidence of this very thing.  As Ann B., one of the co-owners told me, I had an experience only available at an independent bookstore; helping to take out the garbage.  Another Indie Bob first!  You can't do this on Amazon.
Proof positive that indie owners don't just read books and pet cats.  That's Ann backing out the front door with the garbage. . 
Taking out the garbage and recycling was a great way for me to enjoy a nice visit with Ann.  She and husband Ed have been the owners now for 5 years and just recently have added a new business partner and co-owner, Emma S.  These folks are the 2nd ownership group and the store is enjoying a good run since opening in 2001.

When you walk into The Ivy Bookshop located in the Lake Falls Village shopping plaza, you're going to be immersed in a very bright and truly beautiful bookstore.  This one-level space is very neatly organized and arranged and I thought the decorative nuances around the store showed good thought and creativity.  They offer all new books and just a few sidelines including a variety of greeting cards, reading glasses, and warm socks for your feet for winter reading.  Ann told me that events are huge for the store, held on-site or any of several off-site locations.  They're also the main vendor for the annual Baltimore Book Fest and enjoy partnerships with some of the nearby schools.  The store is well-curated but especially so in the children's section which takes up one quarter of the store.  This indie enjoys a great location in an area where the local customers are well-educated and value the presence of an independent bookstore.  

But the best part of my visits are meeting people like Ann, Emma, Emily, and all the staffers I got to talk to on this day.  As I told Shirley, one of the staffers, I could spend hours in this store and if you would annex bedrooms it would be even better!

After visiting here, I can confidently say this is a gem in Baltimore.  If you have't heard of it or haven't visited, check it out.  You'll enter an atmosphere that you won't want to rush away from.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

JUST FINISHED:  The Risen, Ron Rash.  If you're not familiar with Ron Rash you're probably not from the south.  He is a prolific author and this is the 2nd one of his books I've read.  Story of two brothers who meet a girl in their hometown in North Carolina who is visiting for the summer.  The brothers' lives take them in different directions but there is a dark secret about the girl, the summer of her visit, and their relationships.  If you've never read any Ron Rash, I certainly recommend this one.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Hearts Of Men, Nickolas Butler. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Small Mercies, Eddie Joyce.  

It will be easier to find the bookstore if you just look for this land mark.  

A wonderful front window display.  

Many bookstores are recognized award-winners, just like The Ivy Bookshop.  Way to go Ivy!

View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left of the front entrance and a partial view of the check-out counter where you'll buy your books!

If you break your readers like I do, you'll appreciate this display.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I love this display table and the drawers underneath.  

A nice display of new releases.  

A long line of bookshelves gives a customer much to ponder.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

A lot of thought has gone into the store's children's section and it shows.  

A table display for summer.  Find a beach read here.  

Some of the non-book items kids will enjoy.  

An overview of the store.  

Two very comfy chairs to sample a book.  

With Ann on the right and Emma in the middle.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Farley's Bookshop - New Hope, PA



Farley's Bookshop, New Hope, PA
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

As I travel this great country visiting bookstores, I discover many unknown (to me) tourist areas that I never knew existed.  Such is the case with New Hope, PA.  The population here is approximately 2500 and on the July weekday of my visit, this town was hopping.  Local businesses and eateries everywhere, a gridlock of traffic, and a crush of pedestrians.  Is it any wonder that there is a successful, long-running bookstore here?  It certainly isn't surprising to me, especially after hearing some of the remarkable Farley's Bookshop story from Julian K., the fine store manager.

It was my good fortune to visit Farley's during the week of its 50th anniversary.  Mike and Nancy Farley, bought this business and began a run that extends to this day.  They're no longer living but the store and building are still owned by the family, a great advantage for the business.  The Farleys were close to author James Michener and Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers), both of whom were instrumental in their support of the store's beginnings.  But the store's roots extend back before the Farleys bought the business when it was the Delaware Bookshop back in the 1940s.

So how have they survived and sustained through all the challenges?  Julian's answers were very obvious.  The community is very literary and artistic, making Farley's an important store to the local customers.  Their biggest months by far are May-September, something very apparent to me on the day of my visit with all the tourists.  I think they have an excellent location in a corner building on the main street through town and are surrounded by many other businesses.  Another great factor is that they have a cooperative partnership with some of the schools and are able to do book fairs in the buildings.  I wish all SCHOOLS would understand the importance of partnering with their local indie.

The store offers new and used books along with a few sidelines.  Customers receive store credit for their used books but Julian told me many of their used books are brought in simply as donations.  They don't have their used books on an inventory but they can point you to the right shelf if they have it.  Book collectors can also find vintage books here.  Farley's is a large, one-level with lots of different spaces and nooks within the store.  You'll also find some CDs, music on vinyl, and a very nice children's section.  I had a great time meeting Julian and getting to talk to him.  He took a lot of time to tell me about the store and its history and I'm so appreciative when I get to do this with owners and staffers.

Now you have LOTS of reasons to visit this wonderful little town near Philadelphia.  And for the non-readers in your group, they'll find plenty to do while you spend your time in this terrific and legendary independent bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Survivor's Club, Michael Bernstein & Debbie Bernstein Holinstat.  Author's memoir of how he survived Auschwitz as a 4-year old boy.  An absolutely incredible story, as these all are, and thoroughly researched.  The author is still living today.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Risen, Ron Rash.



Another wonderful exterior view.  


Happy birthday and best wishes for another 50!

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  You'll find a few of the greeting cards here.  

Looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  This picture doesn't truly show how big the store is.  Prolific readers may recognize the celebrity in the pink.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Some more of the sidelines including boxed greeting cards and notebooks.  

A relevant display for our times.  

As you walk through the store, you'll see this room on the right.  

Another room of books.  

Always check out the staff picks in a bookstore.  

You'll find some of the vintage books in this display case.  

If you know a Balzac fan, send them here.  

One of the many long aisles of books.  


Kids will enjoy finding a line of Melissa and Doug items in the store.  

Looking into a portion of the children's section.  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front.  You'll have to wind your way through a lot of books to get there!

A partial view of the bargain room.  


Adult coloring books are still in.  

Grab a seat and try a book.  

With Julian on the left, the fine store manager at Farley's Bookshop.  Thanks for a great visit.