Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reading Room Books - Wabash, IN

Reading Room Books, Wabash, IN
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Readers, many of you have visited numerous bookstores where you can enjoy not only books, but a variety of other items.  There's nothing wrong with this, however, if you're looking for a no-frills, no-nonsense, just show me the g d books, then this is your place.  Reading Room Books in Wabash is a 46-year old, grizzled bookstore veteran.  It has survived electronics and computers and in this small Indiana town of approximately 11,000, it is doing just fine thanks to many regular customers as well as a good influx of out-of-towners.  For store manager Ray D. whose career was in nuclear medicine, it has been a fabulous retirement career choice.  In fact, he loves it so much that he can heartily endorse it to others.

So if you don't want to be distracted by all that extra stuff in a bookstore, this is your place.  Reading Room offers all used books with a very small number of new books.  They also sell vintage and collectible editions, many of which are available on their online inventory.  Many customers come in and simply donate their used books but the store will offer store credit in return for used books.  I thought the sections of spiritual/inspiratioinal books and large print books were especially good.  But honestly, they are loaded with everything.  Three large rooms available to customers and two attics and a basement full of books that are stored which equals 400,000 - 500,000 in Ray's estimation.  As Ray told me, they're inventory rich!  All of these books are housed in a charming historic building (architecture buffs will absolutely love driving around this town) that's about 100 years old. 

The organization in the store is outstanding, and that says something for any used bookstore.  It also says what a great job Ray has done who told me when he began 6 years ago, disorganization was the order of the day.  It's a one-man show here so hats off to Ray.

For all the regular customers in and around Wabash, keep up the great work.  And next time you visit, bring a friend who has yet to experience this Wabash landmark.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry.

Approaching the store while walking along the sidewalk, this will be your view.  

Bravo, Reading Room!

Lots of display window space.  This one looks very homey.  

A perfect bookstore greeting above the door.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Finicky readers may recognize the celebrity charging into the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the right from the main entrance.  

These are only a few of the Indiana authors found in the store.  These shelves are by the front entrance.  

As usual, bookstores give the best advice.  This is above the door on the inside.  

This is a great customer service.  

Display of books of local interest.  

This hallway leads into the room on the right side of the store.  Notice in the pictures the stylish calligraphy indicating directions and genres.  Great signage in the bookstore and it was all done by Ray.  

Walk through the hallway into the second room and look to the left for this view.  

A wonderful display of seasonal favorites.  

The iconic tin ceilings found in historical buildings go along with this historic chandelier.  

You can find many quotes like this one in the room to the right.  Expert calligraphy by Ray.  

A great place to sit and try out some books.  

Fans of music on vinyl will find lots to choose from.  

This book aisle is in the main room.  

A terrific store mural found on the back wall of the main room.  

One of the long aisles in the room to the left of the main room.  

In case you can't read the sign, refer to the models to tell you what you'll find in this aisle.  

Yeah, hope you're not in a hurry.  This aisle will take awhile.  

There are so many books and bookshelves here it's hard to get a good overview of the store (The Indie Bob Spot has yet to embrace drone technology).  This is the main room looking toward the front entrance.  

With Ray on the left, the fine store manager at Reading Room Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Skylark Bookshop - Columbia, MO

Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO
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Readers, if you've never heard of the Unbound Book Festival, I suggest you check it out.  This might be just the event you need to inspire the idea of opening your own bookstore.  At least, that's how it worked for Alex George, the owner of the new bookstore in Columbia.  Besides his professions of published author and attorney, he decided to add bookstore owner to his busy schedule.  This new indie is only three months old and is already seeing many regular customers.  And as Alex told me, many of them have thanked him profusely for opening this business in Columbia and bringing something that is treasured and welcomed by this community of literary and educated readers.  I couldn't be more excited to see yet another bookstore riding the wave of new bookstores opening all over the country.

I can't imagine this store having a better location. Smack in the middle of downtown Columbia on a busy street, right next door to Lakota Coffee (ideal) with MANY other small businesses up and down the street.  It's also a great location that attracts business from the three colleges in town, Stephens College, Columbia College, and the University of Missouri.  The store is a long and lengthy one-level with a small upper level in the back of the store.  You'll find a very well-curated inventory of new books and a variety of literary-themed sidelines including socks and scarves to name a few.  They have an excellent space right in the front of the store for events and are already offering an active schedule.  They're also able to hold events for smaller groups in the loft in the back.  Best of all, I'm so happy to report that their business is going very well and off to a great start.  Congratulations Alex, staff, and Columbia.

Alex and store manager Carrie K., were a blast to meet and talk with.  Like so many of my visits, I could've talked to these two all day.  And the fun here was also meeting a published author who also owns a bookstore!  The cherry on top was another friendly and welcoming shop dog, Theo (Honestly, I don't think I've ever met an UNFRIENDLY shop dog!).  I think they could post this charmer outside and draw in even more customers.  

People are still discovering Skylark so I'm optimistic the good news will continue to spread.  This place is an absolute keeper and once you visit, you'll see why.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  People Of The Book, Geraldine Brooks.  I like this author and certainly do recommend her but this book didn't grab me.  A 500-year-old haggadah is found in Sarajevo in 1996, and the novel sets out to explore the book's journey across Europe in those intervening years.  Story also centers on Hanna Heath, the book conservator who has been chosen to solve some of the mystery surrounding the book.  Somewhat Da Vinci Code-esque, but not quite as good for me.    

CURRENTLY READING:  The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A Good American, Alex George.  An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, Helene Tursten.  

One of the clues that helps me find a bookstore I've never visited.  A sidewalk chalk message board.  

A spacious front window display.  

The attractive view looking into the store from the front entrance.  A lengthy store with a stairway in the back to an upper loft area.  Beautiful light fixtures and trimming around the shelves.  Nicely done.  

Area of the front window display and also a perfect stage area for authors visiting the store for events.  

Grab a seat and test drive a book.  

A nice display looking to the left just inside the front door.  

An overview of the left side of the store.  When all these table displays are cleared out they have a nice seating space for events.  Meticulous readers will no doubt recognize the celebrity in the foreground.  Yes, that's my mom.  These same readers will certainly note the new winter jacket not seen in the hundreds of previous pictures.  

Book themed cards and wrapping paper available at the check-out counter.  

Theo sells some books to an enthusiastic customer.  

A variety of sidelines can be found throughout the store.  

This is a really cool scarf with the lithograph of an entire novel.  

Quirky socks only found at independent bookstores.  

Serious writers, artists, and drafters should check out these top-grade pencils.  

Literary-themed mints.  

A few of the books of local and regional interest.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

Take these steps to the loft.

An overview of the very attractive loft area.  

I think this is my favorite place in the whole store.  After reaching the loft, go around to the right and find this stairway that leads to nowhere.  It's a dead-end with one reading chair.  Yes please!

Have a seat in these chairs in the loft and you can keep an eye on both floors.  

Overview of the store looking toward the front entrance from the loft.  

Staff picks are scattered throughout the shelves using shelf talkers.  They look like 3x5 cards hanging from the shelves by their recommended book.  

"It ain't easy selling books.  Don't bother me, I'm on break.  Uhh, unless you have a treat."

With Carrie on the left and Alex in the middle, two of the fine folks you'll meet at Skylark Books.  Thanks for a great visit.