Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bookbound - Ann Arbor, MI

Bookbound, Ann Arbor, MI
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The Bookbound welcoming committee, Chester.  
Readers, you are absolutely going to love this place and the greeting you get here.  When I walked in, one of the friendliest bookstore dogs I've met, Chester, came ambling over to me with tail wagging and welcomed me to the store.  For some reason, I haven't been welcomed by any bookstore cats in the same manner.  Yes, this is a fine bookstore.  Yes, Peter and Megan, the owner, are wonderful people.  Yes, of course, lots of books.  Yes, yes, blah blah blah.  If you come to this store for no other reason, you must come to meet Chester.  Heck, even Peter told me that people come here just to see him and pet him.  But once you get past Chester, continue on through a really neat and roomy indie that you will thoroughly enjoy.

Bookbound is a one-level store with two spacious rooms of books and a few sidelines.  There is lots of room to move around in the store and Peter and Megan told me that they made a conscious effort to have a handicap accessible store including space to move and maneuver, wider doorway, and an accessible bathroom.  They offer all new books with the exception of a handful of used books.  They are not in the market of pursuing used books but when presented with the opportunity, they will offer store credit for particular books in excellent condition.  There are a small number of sidelines available and the greeting cards sell especially well.  The store has been open only 3 1/2 years, relatively new, and the good news here is that business has been positive each year.  Peter worked for Borders for many years and the experience has really helped here for buying books to stock on the shelves.  It has also helped that Peter and Megan are both learning their customer base better and are offering those books for their interests.  I especially like the arrangement of the books in the first room with all of the covers facing outward.  In the 2nd room, the books are shelved in a more conventional manner and if you want a bargain, look for a dot on the spines.  

The store is situated in a small shopping plaza (free parking) and it is conveniently located next to Cardamon Indian Restaurant, an outstanding and very popular restaurant that attracts customers from as far as 60 miles away.  This really helps Bookbound as does the proximity of the University of Michigan.  The store has been able to do some institutional buying for some professors and a nearby hospital, a great advantage.  

So here's my suggested itinerary.  Visit a renowned local restaurant; go meet and pet a friendly and welcoming dog; have a wonderful conversation with Megan and Peter about all sorts of books; browse their collections; make a purchase; repeat often.  If you're anywhere near Ann Arbor, this should be your weekly diversion.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance.  Author writes about his experiences growing up in Kentucky and Ohio in the Appalachia culture and the low percentage of "hillbillies" who are able to escape the culture and succeed.  Despite all the challenges, the author goes on to a successful life and career.  This book was excellent.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet.  

Another exterior view.  

One of the neatly arranged display windows.  

Need an activity for your toddler at home?  Put this on your schedule.  

View looking to the right from the entrance.  Notice all books displayed with the covers facing outward.  I love this.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

I always like seeing the staff pick displays.  

A few of the sidelines available.  

Some of the greeting cards available.  

The store offers a small assortment of used books.  

At the back of the main room proceed through this very wide opening into the 2nd room.  

The store offers events, mostly with authors with local ties.  

Looking to the right and inside the second room from the first room   

The table display as you enter the 2nd room.  

Looking to the left as you enter the second room.  

A portion of the children's section.  This is where you bring your toddler for story time.  

I love the area rug in the children's section.  

A great place to try out a book.  

Display of non-fiction in the second room.  

A nice overview of the second room.  Scrupulous readers may recognize the celebrity seated and reading on the left.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Not sure it shows up on this picture but look for the dots on the spines for a bargain-priced book.  

A much better picture of Chester.  Seriously, look at this cutie!  How can you not visit here and say hello to this guy?!!

With Megan in the center and Peter on the right, the fine co-owners at Bookbound.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bookbug - Kalamazoo, MI

Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
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My very first thought when I walked in the front door of Bookbug was, why haven't I been here yet.  If you've never been here, I hope you have the same reaction when you visit.  And after entering the store and spending some time browsing, here's what I like about this place, EVERYTHING!  A great selection of books with creative displays, an outstanding children's section (one of the store's strengths in my opinion), a variety of sidelines, easy and free parking, and more.  And of course, the people here are as nice and knowledgeable as any I've met.  Just another example that you can find quality independent bookstores anywhere across America, including this gem in Kalamazoo, MI.

Joanna P., one of the co-owners along with Derek and Nicole, told me that Bookbug opened in 2008, a time of economic uncertainty.  But as with many indie owners, they didn't really think about that and jumped right in.  Since opening, they've seen steady business growth each year, such a positive sign for this bookstore and the community.  They opened originally as a children's bookstore but now offer books for everyone.  Additionally, they offer a nice variety of sidelines including greeting cards, crazy socks, music on vinyl, t-shirts, and LOTS more.  You can easily find gift ideas here for anyone.  I thought their book displays were especially creative and attractive.  The store has a great location in the Oakland Plaza with many other like-minded businesses.  Bookbug has a very active events schedule, hosting on-site or at larger venues off-site if needed.  They also have a weekly story time in the store every Thursday morning.  There is a strong core of local customers and community support is obvious for a store that is 9 years old.  I especially like that they're able to do book fairs with some of the local schools.

If you're not a regular reader of The Indie Bob Spot, I continue to drive home a common theme.  The people you meet in bookstores are the best.  The ownership team Joanna, Derek, and Nicole along with Sarah, one of the booksellers are wonderful to meet and so fun to talk to about books and the store.  I feel so fortunate to meet people like this all along my journey.

If you're in the Kalamazoo area and haven't been to Bookbug yet, you're making a big mistake.  Or if you're driving along I94, take the Oakland Dr. exit and head north, you'll drive right to it.  I can guarantee you'll fall in love with this place when you visit, just like I did.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Norwegian By Night, Derek B. Miller.  An 82-year old grandfather is transplanted from his home in NYC to live with his adult granddaughter and her husband in Norway.  He becomes witness to a crime in their apartment building and flees with a little boy who needs his help.  A pretty good crime fiction book.

CURRENTLY READING:  Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A really cool Bookbug t-shirt.  

Another exterior view.  

One of the display windows.  

Bookbug has an active calendar of events.  

View looking into the bookstore from the front entrance.  Faithful readers will surely recognize the celebrity squarely in the middle of the photo.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Only a few reasons to visit Bookbug.  

Several indies do this promotion and I love it.  Take a chance on a book wrapped in a plain brown wrapper.  

This is what I mean by a creative book display.  The books of authors who will be appearing at Bookbug.  

A long wall of fiction to the right in the store.  Notice all the staff recommendations with the "shelf talkers."  

Some of the items of local interest.  

I think you can find a pair of socks to "fit" anyone!

A nice display of the new paperbacks.  

If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, come to the Bookbug and find this display!

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Lots of great stuff here for kids.  

Kids are going to love this house to play in back in the children's section.  

Notice the roof of the house made of books.  And if you look a little further, you might see a book bug.  

Find a literary onesie for your baby.  

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

Music on vinyl and t-shirts.  

You can even get Bookbug candy bars.  These go really good with any book you get!

With Derek on the left and Joanna on the right, two of the fine co-owners at Bookbug.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pella Books - Pella, IA

Pella Books, Pella IA
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If I were to compare this bookstore to a football player I'd call it the right guard on the offensive line.  The obscure player who does his job well that few know by name.  For me, Pella Books is that player.  This place has been under the radar and off the grid.  Consider that oversight corrected.  I'm here to tell you that this fine independent bookstore should be in the center of your radar and one of the places to put on your list of visits.

Pella Books offers all used books along with vintage and collectable editions.  I thought its inventory was as well curated as any of the other used bookstores I've visited.  Alfred P., the owner, told me that the vintage books don't sell as well as they used to but if you're a collector I would encourage you to visit this store or search their inventory on-line.  The store does daily transactions on-line which is a huge part of the business.  This is especially important in a town like Pella where the population is only about 10,000, making it challenging to bring in enough in-store customers to sustain business.  I also like that you can find printed music here for keyboard, voice, and a variety of instruments ( I SCORED a couple of finds!)(the music people GOT that!).

This is one of the few indies I've visited that has absolutely no sidelines.  No cards, no journals, nothing.  Nothing but books here and Alfred acquires them in a number of ways including tag sales, garage sales, and donations.  He'll offer you cash or credit for books that are in good condition.  I think its quite impressive that he also has a data base of everything in the store, something not found in all used bookstores.  The entire inventory is housed in a historic building that was originally a church back in the 1800s.  It's located downtown just off the square and has a great parking lot right next to the building. 

Aside from visiting the bookstore, you'll have a great time meeting Alfred and talking about the store and its history.  This place has been here since 1999 and I'm glad to hear that things are going fairly well, always a great sign and especially for indies in smaller towns.  

Make a point of visiting this charming town in central Iowa and take time to visit the outstanding  bakeries, diners, and coffee shops around the square.  Then take your visit just off the square to enjoy Pella Books and its owner who will be eager to meet you and talk about books.  There's no way you leave empty-handed.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Norwegian By Night, Derek B. Miller.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff.  The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley.  The Case Of The Missing Books, Ian Sansom.  Sonata In Bb K 358, W. A. Mozart.  Rubank Elementary Method for Trombone, N. H. Long.  

When you spot this sign, you're in the right place.  

I love the historical building this bookstore lives in.  

History buffs will enjoy finding out about this building.  This plaque is posted just outside the entrance.  

One of the long book aisles on the right side of the store.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Front table display just inside the front entrance.  

This is the far right book aisle.  You'll be able spend lots of time browsing the shelves.  

I just love these book aisles.  If you don't see something you like on the shelves, check out the boxes full of books below.  

Collectors should visit this store.  

You'll EASILY be able to find a book here!

From the back of the store looking toward the front.  Perceptive readers may recognize the celebrity seated at the front counter.  Yes, that's my mom.  

I found a couple of printed music items here that I could use.  

Look around the store and the tops of the bookshelves for vintage editions.  

There must be a collector out there looking for this edition!

With Alfred on the left, the fine owner at Pella Books.  Thanks for a great visit.