Thursday, August 15, 2019

Letterpress Books - Portland, ME

Letterpress Books, Portland, ME
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Readers, have you ever had one of those experiences in life where when you finish you just kind of exhale and go "aahhh?"  This is EXACTLY what happened to me when I left Letterpress Books in Portland, ME.  My only problem is, I'm not sure if it was because of the bookstore or the absolutely delightful people I met there.  Let's say that it was a little bit of both and was the perfect example of the kind of experience you won't get on the internet.  And as owner Katherine O. told me, the fine folks in Portland are starting to understand the importance of shop local, buy local.  Keep it up, Portland!

This is a true family-operated independent bookstore.  Owned and managed by Katherine and staffed by her mother Karen and father John Paul.  Katherine brings 30 years of bookstore experience to this endeavor and it shows.  The store has been in business for almost 6 years and is sustaining but optimistic for future growth.  They have a great location in a strip area surrounded by many businesses including UPS right next door (wouldn't every bookstore love this?!), pet store, fitness center, and a Starbuck's to name a few.  They also enjoy being located in an affluent area with many nearby schools and retirement communities.  One of my favorite things here was the easy and AMPLE parking availability.  The store offers new and used books and John Paul is in charge of curating the used books.  You'll find them shelved thourgout right along with the new ones.  They offer customers store credit for the books they bring in but some simply donate their books for resale.  I thought the books by Maine authors and the section of local and regional interests were especially good.  Letterpress has a few sidelines here including greeting cards, journals, and calendars to name a few.  They also offer some terrific art work by local artists displayed throughout the store.  If you want some Maine-themed art you'll find it here. 

I cannot imagine anyone coming here and NOT enjoying these lovely people.  The EPITOME of knowledgeable, graciousness, and kindness found in all the good booksellers I meet.  But I know the regular customers at Letterpress already know this.

Still, there are Portlanders who haven't been here yet.  Man, get with it!  Hey regulars, the next time you visit Letterpress bring a friend who hasn't been here.  They'll be destined to return after the experience they enjoy at this terrific bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Libra, Don DeLillo.  Didn't.  I was intrigued by the premise of a fictional rewrite about Lee Harvey Oswald and the JFK assassination but boy, for me I found the writing to be "clunky" and not smooth.  Just could not get into it.  

CURRENLY READING:  Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Louisiana's Way Home, Kate DiCamillo.  

An attractive store front.  

Lots of window display space.  

Step right in to a wonderful bookstore.  

Might as well start your browsing on the outside.  

I love it when bookstores are able to accommodate friendly dogs.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the left after entering.  You won't be able to miss the table display of new releases.  

A few of the greeting cards available in the front of the store.  

Many stores offer this promotion and I love it.  Plain brown wrapper, but how do you know what you're getting?   Here's how it works...

Here at Letterpress they give you some clues about your "blind date."  You'll see all sorts of variations on this promotion.  

Maine is not the Lighthouse state, but it could be!

A nice reading special.  

ALWAYS ask your bookstore about gift certificates.  

A wall display of new releases.  

See what the staff recommends.  

An award-winning bookstore.  

A neat wall display of bestsellers.  

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

Lots of artwork throughout the store by local artists and available for purchase.  

It's still not too late for a beach read.  

Grab a cooking book and sit down and plan out a menu.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

Kids will love these finger puppets.  

A very unique table for little readers.  

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

One of those special sidelines you only see in independent bookstores.  

From L-R: Karen, Katherine, and John Paul, the fine folks you'll meet at Letterpress Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Stillwater Books - Pawtucket, RI

Stillwater Books, Pawtucket, RI
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Regular readers know how often I expound on the amazing talents of booksellers and owners across the country.  I often refer to them as rock stars or super heroes and I truly mean that.  Up to this point  I've never met any wearing a superman cape but if there were ever two who are worthy, it would be the husband/wife co-owners Dawn and Steve P. at Stillwater Books.  They came to the rescue for the fine folks in Pawtucket with their wonderful bookstore 1 1/2 years ago.  They performed this super hero feat of opening a bookstore and filling a void that had been missing for 25 years.  I'm also happy to say that with this indie I continue to see a trend of successful new bookstores.  Way to go, Dawn and Steve!

But their talents don't end with just the opening of a bookstore.  Along with the bookstore they are the owners of Stillwater River Publications and are also the founders of the Association of Rhode Island Authors.  All three of these are under one business umbrella which confirms what I see that bookstore owners are very creative and flexible with their business model.  As publishers, they've published over 200 books by local authors.  These relationships can be found throughout the store by the many books offered that are written by these authors.

The one-level store has a great corner location in downtown Pawtucket.  It is adjacent to a very busy bus stop which brings in some of the customers.  They offer new and used books along with an assortment of sidelines including greeting cards, earrings, and regional items.  Different from other stores with used books, Stillwater acquires their books from estate sales, library sales, and other similar methods instead of taking in books from customers.  The results are a very well-curated store of used books, most of which are in superb condition.  If you can't visit the store in person you have the option of ordering online.  Still don't see what you're looking for?  Be patient.  Many books are in storage and not displayed in the store yet.

This store is one of the 2019 Best of Rhode Island.  Pay them a visit and find out why.  Two knowledgeable and friendly owners in a wonderful bookstore offering an experience that you won't find online.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Educating Esmé: Diary Of A Teacher's First Year, Esmé Raji Codell.  Candid and inspiring personal account of the author's first year teaching Chicago fifth-graders.  Anyone who has ever taught will identify with the challenging student, the shy student, an incompetent principal, and little parental support.  At times funny and at times maddening because of the system all teachers are up against.  Very relevant.  I really liked this book and this first-year teacher really had her stuff together. It's a very quick read.  Highly recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Libra, Don DeLillo.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Providence Rag, Bruce DeSilva.

I couldn't resist this picture, a beautiful building that is part of the Pawtucket Library.  This is very close to the bookstore so consider visiting here as well.  

The bookstore sits on a great corner location.  

Just inside the front door you'll see the logo and a variety of magazines.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  

After entering you'll go to the right and then this will be your view looking through the store.  

Nice display of relevant regional topics just inside the entrance.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

I was curious about this shirt and who Ben Mondor was.  He was the long-time owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, AAA affiliate for the Boston Red Sox.  They have a long history in Pawtucket but now the affiliate has been moved to Worchester, MA, leaving an emptiness in what seems to me a very good baseball town.  Hence the t-shirt.  

These bookshelves located near the front of the store are mostly new books.  

Items of local and regional interest.  

Cold drinks AND snacks?  Yes please, as I try out a book.  

The store has an excellent sports section with many items relevant to New England.  

This is Patriots country.  This would be a great gift idea for a Pats fan who likes jigsaw puzzles.  

You can't go wrong with a bin of .99 books.  

Or with these bargain priced decorating books.  

See the blue tabs in this picture?  You'll find them throughout the store in every section.  They designate books by local authors.  This is a great way to find them.  

Display of books by local authors.  

Nice assortment of fiction.  

A great place to sit with your cold drink and your next book.  

An assortment of Melissa and Doug items for the kids.  

Partial view of the children's section.  

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

Have you heard about the 33 inning game played by the Pawtucket Red Sox?  This great book tells the story.  

An award-winning bookstore.  

These earrings are not for cats or dogs, they're for people.  Just to clarify.  

With Steve on the left and Dawn in the middle, the fine co-owners at Stillwater Books.  Thanks for a great visit.