Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Frugal Muse Books - Madison, WI

Frugal Muse Books, Madison, WI
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When you enter this store you're immediately hit with that "wow" factor.  As in, wow, where do I begin?  As I browsed through the store my initial thought was, what DON'T they have?  You won't be able to sprint through this bookstore because you'll find so many things to get for yourself and others.  It all starts with the books, offering new and used.  Customers can receive cash or credit for the books they bring in and shelving all that they intake is continuous as you might imagine.  After the books, they have a large inventory of CDs, music on vinyl, DVDs, vintage and collectible books (also available online), comic books, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  To put it candidly, this is simply a large store with a large inventory of everything.  I couldn't see a weakness for any book genre.  The store reminds me a little bit of Title Wave Books in Anchorage except Frugal Muse doesn't have the volume of sidelines that Title Wave has.  One of the best things here though is the wonderfully large space.

Frugal Muse has been around for 25 years.  Originally, there were three stores but due to bookstore economics there is just this one remaining.  For this store, the introduction of the e-reader in 2010 was when they noticed many of their regular customers disappearing.  As Bill S., one of the co-founders told me, it was as if they vanished into thin air.  Thankfully for indies like Frugal Muse, the e-reader wave has passed and this store's business has stabilized.

It was my good fortune to meet two of the owners and founders of Frugal Muse, Dave D. and Bill.  I could've talked to these guys all day about the business, books, and their terrific store.  As I've learned on this journey bookstore people are the best and Dave and Bill certainly fit that description.

So, what are you waiting for?  Easy parking, great prices, and comfy places to sit.  Bring in your used books and then take your time browsing through a legendary bookstore.  Find out what many in Madison and smaller surrounding communities have discovered.  A bookstore that will definitely  have something for everyone.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Where The Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin.  This fiction would be designated as middle grade reader or YA (young adult).  Story of 12-year old Della and her challenge of coping with a mother who suffers from schizophrenia.  She tries everything to help her mom but can't come up with the solution.  Then she allows the many who want to help her to come closer in her life.  A very well-written, touching book.  Don't overlook books like this because of their target audience of younger readers.  Adults can enjoy these too.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Haunting Of Hill House, Shirley Jackson.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah.  Brave New World, Aldous Huxley.  Not purchased but gifted, Bloodsuckers, David G. Danielson.  The Sensuous Investor, David G. Danielson.  Thanks Dave!

One of the large display windows.  

This indie is an award winner.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  See what I mean by, "wow?"

View looking to the right from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left of the front entrance.  By the time you see this, all of those used books waiting to be checked in will be on the shelves or already in someone's home.  

A great community service for the local children's hospital.  

Look for this rack for some super bargains.  You'll find great prices throughout the store.  

Table display relevantly themed for October.  

To the right of the front entrance you'll find some great places to sit for yourself, your friends, or your bookclub.  

Consider purchasing some of the displayed art work to support local artists.  

Little table and little chairs for little readers.  

You'll find some collectible editions on these shelves in the front of the store.  
If you're looking for the Little Journeys Abroad series, you'll find them here.  

Or maybe you're a Zane Grey fan.  

A partial overview of the children's section.  


A few of the greeting cards available.  

A nice display of new titles.  

A rack of cooking themed books along with some of the cookies you'll be making.  

Lots of CDs available.

If you're a movie buff, you'll have many to choose from.  
Take one of these, you're going to need it.  

One of the many book nooks.  

Head for this area in the back of the store for even better bargains and lots of inventory to choose from.  


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

Great customer service that happens at almost every independent bookstore.

Boy, I could've used a section like this a few years back!

The store has an outstanding music section.  

With Dave on the left and Bill on the right, two of the fine co-owners you'll meet at Frugal Muse.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Paperbacks Plus - North St. Paul, MN

Paperbacks Plus, North St. Paul, MN
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Ok readers, brace yourselves.  Your visit to Paperbacks Plus in North St. Paul will be an energy-packed whirlwind of excitement.  When I left here, I felt like I needed to catch my breath and lie down.  Kathryn H., the owner, has an undeniable, contagious energy that you will thoroughly enjoy when you visit her store.  You'll be able to talk about books, bookstores, and current events for as long as you're able to keep up with her.  This is a wonderful bookstore, but for me as a customer, Kathryn is the star of the show along with her two store dogs, Mario and Flash.  She's a self-admitted eccentric with attention deficit which which gives her an advantage as an all-star level bookseller.

As for the bookstore, if you want to visit a no-nonsense, but-kickin' bookstore, this is it.  It's all about the books here and Kathryn has the store meticulously organized, being extremely conscientious of genres and the importance of alphabetical arrangement.  She offers customers store credit for used books and takes in just about everything but admits she also has to recycle a lot, a sad reality for many used book bookstores.  No sidelines here except for one greeting card.  Really!  And it's a beautiful reproduction of an artist's rendition of the bookstore's exterior.  The store hosts occasional events throughout the year with many local authors and you'll find their books here.  You can also be reassured that the store doesn't offer just paperbacks as you'll also find an extensive inventory of popular hardbacks.

Kathyrn took the business over in 1992 from an owner who stayed on in the store and ultimately had a profound impact on her life.  In 2002, the store moved to its current location and Kathryn owns the historical building the store occupies.  The rent she receives from an upstairs apartment tenant and another small business on the main floor helps her to sustain the bookstore.

Paperbacks Plus has been around for a long time and flew under my radar, but not anymore.  Join all of the loyal regulars who visit here and find out what they know and what I learned.  A well-maintained used bookstore with an owner full of an energy and a passion for what she does.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Behind Closed Doors, B. A. Paris.  Block out some time for this one because once you start it you will not be able to put it down. Psychological thriller about a couple who seemingly have the perfect marriage to those who see it from the outside.  But inside the marriage it's a totally different picture and the story is unbelievable yet somewhat plausible.  If you like gripping page-turners, this needs to be on your list of books to read.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Where The Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Live Wire, Harlan Coben.  Don't Let Go, Harlan Coben.  The Big Over Easy, Jasper Fforde.


Another exterior view.  

Lots of display window space.  

Your doorway to adventure!

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

If you slide 6 steps to the left after you enter the store, this is your view.  

Or watch this sign.  

After entering the store, you'll see some vintage comic books just inside the entrance.  

You know that friend you have who has a nickname that is really the opposite?  Like a guy nicknamed Tiny but he really isn't.  Use this logic when thinking of Flash.  


Mario, a happy greeter for customers!  

A wall of bookshelves all the way to the back of the store.  

Lots of comic books and many are vintage.  Sheldon Cooper would love this place.   

One of the book nooks.  

Have a seat and try out a book.  

This is the employee cafeteria.  Flash and Mario can often be found here on their breaks.  

One of the long book aisles.  

A most comfortable seat for trying a book.  

There are several collectible Barbie's in the store still in the original packaging.  Inquire with Kathryn if interested.  

Find this display case to see the vintage and collectible editions.  

You can find these deals toward the back of the store.  

Entrance into the back of the store, convenient to a parking lot across the street.  

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

This will come in handy because the book you always want will be out of reach (or on the bottom shelf!).  

Nancy Drew fans should definitely visit here.  

An excellent artistic work of the store's front.  This is the likeness that is on the store's greeting card.  

With Kathryn and Mario, the fine owner at Paperbacks Plus.  Thanks for a great visit.