Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gene's Books - Sanibel, FL

Gene's Books, Sanibel, FL
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When you visit Gene's books in Sanibel, let me give you a little advice that I can sum up in three words.  Watch your step!  Seriously.  If you have balance problems, mobility issues, or too much to drink, take it easy.  As regular readers know, my writing skills are mediocre at best so my words are inadequate in describing to you the bookstores I visit.  I tend to overuse adjectives and do so with the few I know.  For example, I often use the word "overwhelming" to describe some of the bookstores I've visited.  When I've used it, I've definitely meant it.  If there is a word that ranks higher than "overwhelming", NOW is when I would use it.  I guess the good news here is that if you do have balance problems and take a tumble, your fall will be cushioned by lots of books.

This is one of the very few bookstores I've visited that offers nothing other than 100% books, no sidelines, not even a button or a magnet.  The books are EVERYWHERE; inside, outside, scattered throughout the book nooks on shelves and on the floor.  There are three buildings of books along with a house full of book inventory not open to the public.  Carla, one of the booksellers told me they might have 500,000 books but I think that estimate is VERY conservative and the inventory could be closer to a million.  This store has been in business for about 6 years so I think adventurous book-lovers are still discovering it as a destination.  I also think its surprising that Sanibel with a  population of approximately 6000, has two great independent bookstores.  This means every citizen could buy and read over 166 books (all things considered, this is a pretty conservative estimate!).  Very impressive when you consider much larger communities have nothing.

The vast majority of the store is new books with maybe 95% of them remainders.  Even more impressive is the fact that they have everything on a data base and know what's in the store.  Now, if you have trouble finding just the right book I have some good news for you.  The store is expanding into two additional buildings!  This is welcome news for all the books that are stored throughout the current store.

I didn't get to meet Gene on this visit (he came to Florida from Pennsylvania to retire but created an empire instead!) but boy does he have a great staff.  Everyone I met including Christian, the store manager, along with staffers Alexa, Carla, Heather, and Lisa, were all outstanding young people to talk to and hear about the store.

Ok book lovers, here you go.  I'm going to expect to hear about more and more of you visiting this bookstore in the months and years ahead.  If you're like me, you'll be wowed the minute you enter.  Beat the tour buses and visit this bookstore now before it becomes nationally recognized as a bookstore destination.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story Of The Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel.  The unbelievable true story of Christopher Knight who left his home in Massachusetts, drove into the Maine woods, left his car, and disappeared for 27 years.  He lived isolated outside in a tent, no heat, no AC, and survived brutal winters.  No human contact.  How did he do it?  You'll have to read it and find out.  Fascinating story.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu.  

The side porch at Gene's.  A great place to sit and read.  

Notice the window in this door.  This is an example of what you're about to see in the store.  Wall to wall books.  

Great picture of the store's main building.  There are two more buildings filled with books behind this one.  

Yeah, one of these shopping baskets isn't going  to cut it.  

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

Just inside the front entrance.  Watch your step.  

To the left of the front entrance and near the check-out counter.  

Just inside the front door.  Watch your step.  

One of the store's many book nooks.  

Just a fraction of the items of local and regional interest.  

In the corner of one of the book nooks.  

This happy customer is surrounded by inventory.  

Lots of CDs in this room.  

One of the long book aisles.  Watch your step.  

Every bit of space in this store is used for book display and storage.  

A book-lover's dream.  

Again, just a fraction of the children's books available.  

This beautiful bathroom is the only space I could find without any books!  

You're going to have to take this corner slow.  

Are you getting the idea, yet?  I'm trying to impress on you that they have a lot of books.  This is toward the back of the main building.  

Leaving the main building and proceeding out back to the next building.  You can browse books on your way.  

More under this tent.  

Lots of outdoor storage areas.  

Looking into building number two.  

Do you know what's under these tarps?  Yep, more books.  

This is the entrance to building number three.  

View looking into the third building.  Check out the book aisle in the right of this picture, around the green blanket, and then look at the picture below...

This is that aisle at the other end of the green blanket!  

The back room of the third building.  

Believe me, if you go through all three buildings you'll need a break.  Look for this bench.  

From l-r, Alexa, Heather, and Christian, three of the fine folks you'll meet at Gene's Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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