Friday, March 24, 2017

Dunaway Books - St. Louis, MO

Dunaway Books, St. Louis, MO
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Readers, I'm afraid I owe you an apology.  Many of you who have faithfully followed The Indie Bob Spot have probably been wondering when the heck I would get to Dunaway Books in St. Louis.  After all, it's only the oldest and largest bookstore in St. Louis.  Its been in business since 1965 and includes an inventory of over 75,000 used, collectable, and rare books.  Well, the wait is over and I can gladly tell you that this indie needs to be put on your list of visits in the St. Louis area.

On the day of my visit, I was warmly and politely greeted by a British accent and the owner who was behind the front counter, Peter H.  I think Peter is every bit as interesting as the store itself.  This bookstore owner played rugby for over 30 years, plays Victorian golf (knickers and all!), enjoys medieval history, and would probably conduct the business with an old-fashioned quill and feather if it weren't for Vernon, one of the booksellers.  I tend to color my opinions rather optimistically for bookstores and books but Peter differed with me on this.  Business at this store has slowed, especially with walk-ins, over the past few years.  He expressed to me real concerns for bookstores, books, and reading in general.  There's definitely competition for kids with all kinds of electronic devices, but I'm hopeful books can co-exist and still find a place.  Thanks to these devices though, Dunaway Books conducts over 40% of its business with online sales of their collectable and rare books.   Because of this, Vernon will ship out a dozen or more books daily.

Dunaway is a multi-level space with an outstanding inventory.  They offer customers store credit for books they bring in for trade and will offer money for rare or collectable books.  If you're a collector, you absolutely must visit here and also visit their online site.  They have many complete sets, but as Peter told me, "they'll be bought by someone who builds a mansion and displayed so people won't think him an illiterate twerp."  Well said, Peter.

But here's what I can guarantee to you at Dunaway Books.  A chance to explore and experience a quintessential bookstore and meet the fascinating people who work there.  Yet, for as long as Dunaway's has been around there are people in St. Louis who haven't discovered it yet.  Really?  I may be late to this store but I'm not 52 years late.  Wake up St. Louis!  Enjoy a visit to Dunaway Books and enjoy the leisure of a wonderful bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Moon Palace, Paul Auster.  One of the cover quotes calls it a composite of Twain and Dickens.  I would agree.  Story of a young adult beginning in the late 1960s and all his trials and tribulations.  The story takes a winding trail and included some incredible coincidences that help reveal relationships between characters.  An interesting story that won't be for all, but I can recommend it.  If you haven't read anything by Paul Auster, this might be one to start with.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant, Douglas Wallop.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Crown Of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas.  

Another exterior view and one of the display windows.  

View looking directly into the store from the front entrance.  

A few of the works by local authors.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance and a great place to have a seat and do a little sample book reading.  

One of the long aisles on the main floor.  Toward the back you can see the upper balcony level.  

A view looking to the right from the front entrance.  These shelves contain many volumed editions which, as Peter says, some will come in and buy just to fill a bookshelf in their house.  

Looking for 17 volumes of Balzac?  Visit here.  

You can find local authors and interests throughout the store.  

A portion of the children's section and a great place to browse for little readers.  

How about some 1832 editions by Hegel?  Visit here.  

This is near the back of the main floor.  I took this picture because I loved the lamp and the lighting in this part of the store.  

How about a music CD?  Lots of options here.  

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

A nice wall of bookshelves on the upper balcony.  

Continue downstairs for more genres.  

View looking into the basement.  

Another view across the basement level.  

Literary criticism is one of the best sections in the store.  

This is a second basement where even more books are stored.  

With Pete on the left and Vernon on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Dunaway Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Afterwords Books - Edwardsville, IL

Afterwords Books, Edwardsville, IL
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

When you look up the words, "cozy" and "charming," in the dictionary of bookstores, this is the place you'll see pictured.  Lots of natural light, lots of comfortable seats, and everything neatly arranged and layed out in a historical house built in the 1800s.  To an atmosphere and setting like this, add a personable bookstore owner who is as friendly and conversant as any and you get the perfect recipe for a winning combination in Edwardsville, IL.  

Luanne L. has been the owner here for the last 6 years of the store's 8 years in the business.  Luckily, for bookstore patrons in Edwardsville, Luanne is tenacious.  The store has had 5 moves in the last 5 years but has found an outstanding location in its current home and is much more visible now.  Travelers who explore old Route 66 will be able to visit Afterwords Books now with this location.

Luanne shared with me that the store has continued to show positive growth over the past 8 years and its no wonder why.  The store has a strong children's section with twice weekly story times.  There are frequent children's author events that are very well-attended.  In-store book clubs, a documentary club, and a knitting group are all here and are great ways to bring people into the store.  Some of the store's sidelines like greeting cards, book cover coasters, and unique crafts are created by local artisans.  Is it any wonder with community connections like this that the store had a solid group of volunteers to help move the inventory a mere 3 months ago?!  Kudos to you, Edwardsville.

The store is arranged all on one level in multiple rooms.  It offers new and used books and all are shelved together.  And if you need to pick a day to visit, go on Friday when they have cookies provided by any one of the several local bakeries.

As with most of my visits, owners like Luanne are an absolute delight to meet as well as a regular customer and former bookseller, Mike, who was in the store on the day of my visit.  I can't imagine anyone visiting here and NOT having a great time.  But Edwardsville, I want to give you a word of warning.  You are in possession of a treasured gem.  Don't blow it.  Many communities would love to have what you have.  So visit Afterwords Books, browse, talk books, find something for yourself or a gift for someone else.  Learn the lesson of communities who didn't do this.  Don't miss this terrific bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Fever, Megan Abbott.  Well, I came close but didn't finish it.  The book is probably in the maid's break room in some hotel in Alabama.  The hazards of traveling the country in support of independent bookstores is that some things get lost along the trail.  This book was going great until I lost it and based on what I read, I would recommend it.

CURRENTLY READING:  Moon Palace, Paul Auster.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood.  And received as a gift a wonderful Afterwords Books coffee mug.  Thanks Luanne.   

View of the side of the bookstore from the parking lot.  The ramp makes the store handicap accessible.  

When you see this sign, pull in.   

Another exterior view.  

A couple of great places to sit on the front porch and try out a book.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Remember, this store is in an old house.  This is just the front hallway.  

This is the first room to the left after entering.  

This is the first room to the right after entering.  Lots of great places to sit in this room.  

Your kids might enjoy these learning mats.  

Some unique and creative items in the front hallway.  

Just some of the items here that kids will love.  

This is a portion of the children's room.  

Another portion of the children's room.  This is the second room on the right after you enter.  If you haven't brought your child here yet, make a point of it.  They will love it.  

The store offers a line of Melissa & Doug items for kids.  

A few of the unique greeting cards available.  

Check out some of the events at Afterwords.  

Kids will find lots of stuff here they like.  

Very unique trees made from book pages.  

Find this room in the back left of the store, especially on Friday.  Cookies.  

Some of the ornate craftsmanship found in this historical house that is Afterwords Books. 

Items of local interest.  

You can get some of Emily's great artwork creations here at Afterwords Books.  

Yes, yes, and yes.  Lots of reasons to get one of these tote bags.  

With Luanne, the fine owner at Afterwords Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rose's Bookhouse - O'Fallon, MO

Rose's Bookhouse, O'Fallon, MO
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

I can't express adequately in these posts and in these few words what a joy it is to visit these many bookstores on my incredible journey across the country.  But the true fulfillment in each of these visits is the opportunity to engage and meet so many wonderful people along the way.  Such was the case for me within the first 10 minutes of my arrival at Rose's Bookhouse in O'Fallon, MO.  Dawn was the bookseller present on the day of my visit and what a fun conversation I had with her and another customer.  A 3-way chat about books, authors, and bookstores.  I know many of my readers visit bookstores BUT, if you have not engaged another customer or one of the booksellers, you're missing out on one of my favorite parts of a bookstore visit (you won't get this on Amazon).  So I'm pretty sure when you visit this indie, you're going to have a great experience.

Rose's has been around for 37 years and is now in its 3rd ownership with Wendy D. who has owned the business for 16 years.  This store fits the cliche, "don't judge a book by its cover," perfectly.  From the outside it looks small and unassuming.  After you enter, you're hit with a very long, one-level store that has over one million new and used books.  The majority of the books are used and at least 1/3 of the inventory is dedicated to romance; including 5 sub-genres of romance categories.  Many used bookstores don't even offer romances but it is definitely a strength at Rose's.  They even offer a very full stock of Harlequin romances going back up to 10 years, a rarity in bookstores.  But don't worry if you're not a romance fan.  I found lots of great books in many genres, including children's.  

I didn't meet Wendy on the day of my visit, but I had a great time talking to Dawn who told me a lot about the store and was wonderful to talk to.  She really knows her stuff and if you like reading fantasies, you absolutely must talk to her.  The store has occasional author signings, held right on-site.  Aside from some unique bookmarks, there are no sidelines here but as with all indies, they're always keeping their options open down the road.  Wendy is also offering more great sales all the time including dollar books, bags of books, and 3-fers.  In other words, prices will not be a reason to leave empty-handed.  They have a great partnership with a local school and I wish more schools would respond when independent bookstores reach out.

If you're in the O'Fallon/St. Louis area and enjoy bookstores, this is a place you need to check out.  And if you're a romance reader and don't know about this place, where have you been?!  Put this store on your "to-do" list, take a friend, and enjoy a visit to a long-running indie with terrific people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Fever, Megan Abbott.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.  

A beautiful day to visit a bookstore.  

View looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  

Another view looking into the store from the front entrance.   

Miss Rosie stays in her bookstore all the time so she knows the perfect place to catch the sun.  

Some of the unique bookmarks available in the front of the store.  

Lots of great stuff on this front table display.  

One of the long rows of bookshelves, always one of my favorite pictures.  Follow this aisle to the Harlequin romances.    

At a price like this, you can buy several!

And here they are!  Find this display.  

Diana Gabaldon fans will find a complete series.  

J.D. Robb fans will also be pleased.  

A great place to test drive a book.  

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

You can still support this and many other indies with your ebook purchase.  

If you're a fan of Harlequin romances, you simply cannot afford to miss this bookstore and this section.  

Miss Rosie will be waiting to check you out at the front counter.  

...because a cat just can't work all the time!

With Dawn on the right, one of the fine booksellers at Rose's Bookshop.  Thanks for a great visit.