Sunday, May 16, 2021

South Main Book Juggler - Memphis, TN

South Main Book Juggler, Memphis TN

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Honestly, after meeting Jean, the owner at South Main Book Juggler and listening to her store's history over the past 8 years I'm impressed that they're still here!  They opened their bookstore in downtown (South Main Historical District) Memphis because the trolley stopped near the store.  Perfect location, right?  6 months after opening the trolley ended.  This was JUST the beginning of the headaches that included multiple years of on and off construction.  There was even construction on the street outside of the store on the day of my visit.  And then the pandemic hit.  Thanks to a grant from The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) and a little help from the city and state, this indie has done more than survive.  Last March was the store's best month ever and they're now doing reasonably well.  Memphis is an attractive tourist destination and now those traveling customers are beginning to return.

 As Jean told me, South Main Book Juggler is a true neighborhood bookstore.  She and her husband moved to this neighborhood and she wanted to contribute something to this area and they decided to open a bookstore.  Her background in bookkeeping and accounting (a plus for the business) led to the name "Book Juggler".  The store is surrounded by downtown residents making their location ideal.  Book Juggler offers mostly used books along with some new.  There are also vintage and collectible editions available.  If customers bring books in, Jean will simply buy them if she's interested.  Most of the sidelines consist of art, jewelry, and pottery to name a few.  All created by local artists.

For me, the best thing here was all the Memphis-centric books.  Books about Stax Records, Elvis, Sun Studio, Beale Street, and the history of the blues and its performers.  You'll find books here on these subjects that will be hard to find elsewhere.  If you have any interest at all in these Memphis subjects, this is your place.

Memphis is a tourist destination for many reasons.  When you visit here, put this neighborhood and its terrific bookstore at the top of your list.  Graceland?  Bah.  South Main Book Juggler?  Sign me up!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Deacon King Kong, James McBride.  1969, Brooklyn, NY and the year of the amazing Mets.  But drugs are encroaching into the housing projects and it affects all of the colorful characters.  Multiple characters with several sub-plots going on.  The old crotchety church deacon shoots one of the young neighborhood drug dealers which triggers events for everyone in the book.  The connections between all the characters revealed by the end of the book are incredible!

CURRENTLY READING:  The Overstory, Richard Powers. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion, Robert Gordon.  Memphis Rent Party, Robert Gordon. 

 

Beautiful exterior of a historic building.  Jean is waiting outside for your arrival!

 

Meet your peeps under the Book Juggler window.

 

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  What this store doesn't have in width it makes up for in length. 

 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 
 

Find a book to sample and grab a comfy seat here in the front of the store. 
One of the stores' strengths are its books of local interest and by local authors. 
Like many other indies, sidelines offered are often created locally. 

 

Looking for a collector's item newspaper?  Read about this dark day in Memphis history. 

The locally created art here is fantastic. 
Get your Book Juggler t-shirt.
Look for these on the bookshelves to locate your author. 

 

I agree with several of these super store favorites. 

 

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

 

You'll see talented art in the book nooks like this. 

 

Find these shelves for a rare or vintage edition. 

For Elvis fans, this store is a must visit. 

 

With Jean, the fine owner at South Main Book Juggler.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Light Trap Books - Jackson, TN

 

Light Trap Books, Jackson, TN


(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Most bookstores I visit I can usually recognize the connection of their name and how it relates to the store.  There are the obvious ones with ties to books and reading like The Bookmark or The Bookworm.  Others can be based on location like Main St. Books or (insert town's name) Bookstore.  Sometimes owners use all sorts of creativity when naming their bookstores which is the case for Light Trap Books in Jackson, TN.  When owner Lauren S. explained it to me I never would've got it but those of you who are camera bugs get it.  A light trap is what you need to keep the light out of a dark room when developing film.  It is also the title of her thesis in grad school.  So this 2-word motif has stuck with Lauren and I think I can confidently state this is the only indie in the country named Light Trap Books.

This charming little indie is located on the edge of downtown and is part of an area called The Local, a trio of micro businesses.  In addition to Light Trap there is a coffee shop and a store that offers a variety of homemade crafts.  The premise for the businesses in The Local is that they'll be able to start their businesses, leasing their spaces for two years at a reasonable rate and then will look for a new and expanded space once they've had a chance to establish themselves and become successful.  I think of it as a business with training wheels for a couple of years.  For Lauren at Light Trap, the store is off to an excellent start that's showing positive growth and attracting many customers including a solid core of regulars.

Lauren has filled a community-driven need for an independent bookstore.  There hasn't been an indie in Jackson for about 20 years so this really filled that void.  The store is less than a year old (another newbie during the pandemic) and was launched with a generous kickstarter campaign that proved how much this town was serious about having an independent bookstore.  

The store offers all new books with only a few used books accepted as donations only.  They stock some unique stationery and notebook items as well as an artwork reproduction of a mural by an 11 year-old student.  When the store relocates into a new location Lauren hopes to have the space for events and perhaps a cafe service.

A delightful store with a delightful and knowledgeable owner looks like a bright future to me.  If you're in Jackson and haven't discovered this little beauty yet, wake-up!  A wonderful indie serving up a well-curated space full of books waiting for a home.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Deacon King Kong, James McBride.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Furious Hours:  Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep. 


Beautiful store exterior on a beautiful day.

Grab a coffee from the nearby coffee shop and enjoy these seats right outside the bookstore.

This is the common "courtyard" area shared by the three businesses in The Local. 

These large windows allow for a lot of natural light inside the bookstore. 

View looking straight into the bookstore at the well-curated non-fiction section. 

A variety of releases displayed on the left wall after entering the store. 

If the weather outside is rainy, enjoy this comfortable chair inside to sample a book. 

Just inside the front entrance and to the right you'll find a good assortment of poetry editions. 

The organization of the store is fairly basic.  Shelves on the left are non-fiction and shelves on the right are fiction.  Despite the store's small size, I thought it was very well curated. 

Just about every bookstore I visit features fantastic art work. 

Make sure to look underneath the check-out counter for your last minute buys. 

Go to the check-out counter in front of the Light Trap logo.  Visit frequently!


Just a sampling of the children's books available. 

A good variety on this display table. 

Books to benefit people of all ages. 

The artistic talent of a local 11-year old has led to benefit a social advocacy project in the community.  Way to go Jackson!


With Lauren, the fine owner at Light Trap Books.  Thanks for a great visit.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Nook - Baldwin City, KS

The Nook, Baldwin City, KS

 (Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Honestly, if a town of approximately 4000 can pull this off, anyone can.  Ok, maybe I should rephrase that.  Anyone could pull it off if they're anything like Niki M., the owner here at The Nook.  When I listened to all that she's currently doing it made me feel faint.  Then she listed the things she still has on her to-do list including opening a sports bar and a book bindery.  Oh wait, then there's remodeling the upstairs of this 100 year old building into a two-bedroom air bnb.  Oh I forgot to mention, she and her husband have two kids.  And she's also a runner.  Oh, also forgot that she puts out a local newspaper.  And these are only the things she told me about that I'm remembering.  Good gawd when does she sleep?!

So Niki is the talent and creativity behind this beautiful bookstore in Baldwin City.  They've been open for about a year and a half now and like others I've met they've done very well during the pandemic.  One of their secrets is they home delivered everything, a marvelous customer service.  They offer all new books here along with a few used ones and copious sidelines including many locally created crafts and art.  They have a beautiful children's room, a place to bring a child to explore while mom or dad can sip a wine or beer.  Or if you're visiting earlier in the day enjoy a coffee drink and a light pastry in the coffeeshop area.  

The Nook enjoys many regular customers as well as others from the Baker University community right across the street (FYI, Baker is the oldest 4-year college in Kansas).  Two things really stand out for the store's success.  One is events.  They are a huge deal here and as Niki says it gets people in the store.  The other is Niki's publishing company, Imperium.  This is the only publisher in Kansas so if you're in Kansas or the midwest and looking for someone to publish your book, consider Imperium.  I saw many of the publications and they are very professional and look great.

As the weather changes, consider coming to the outdoor patio to enjoy lunch from a local food truck and some live music.  If this isn't your thing, inquire about joining the Boozy Bookclub.  Come for the books, stay for the booze!

This store truly has something for everyone.  If you can't find anything, you're not trying.  With everything it offers and all its events, this is definitely a beacon of a successful business that is important to the health of any community.  Way to go Baldwin City.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

 JUST FINISHED:  We Were The Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter.  What a book.  Begins in the late 1930s in Radom, Poland.  Jewish couple and their 5 adult children with their loved ones face the dire consequences of a crumbling Europe to Nazi Germany and they must endure multiple hardships to endure and survive as they become scattered around the world.  Incredible story base on true events.  5-stars all the way, highly recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Deacon King Kong, James McBride. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Home Front, Melinda B. Hipple.  Hotel Toledo, Melinda B. Hipple.  

Beautiful exterior view of The Nook. 
Overview of the very spacious outdoor patio.  Expect to hear live music here during the summer months. 

You have arrived!
View looking into the store from the front entrance.  There is some cafe seating in here and some more in a room to the right. 
View looking to the right from the front entrance.  The doorway in the upper left will take you to a 3rd room with more books and a children's section.
Overview of the main room. 
Display of staff picks. 
Variety of sidelines in the main room.  Much of this is produced and created locally. 
Lil Happy Creations made locally.  Shop local, buy local. 
Can you even call yourself a Chiefs fan if you don't have the earrings?!
Immediately to the right of the front entrance, a portion of the graphic novels and coloring books offered. 
Niki also has a publishing house, Imperium Publishing.  Here are some of those titles.  If you're looking for a publisher, check this one out.  Very professional and I thought they looked great. 

Just inside the front door you won't be able to pass by this display of new releases. 
 

Need a break from browsing?  Get yourself a drink and pull up a seat for some chess. 
Need ideas for a birthday party?  Here you go!

 

An overview of the seating area in the main room.  I had a great time talking to Melinda H. during my visit who is a bookseller AND a published author.   
A wide variety of everything.  If you're looking for a coffee drink, proceed into the middle room for that.  


Seating also available at the counter/bar. 

 

View looking into the cafe, the middle room in the business.  This is where you'll order your coffee drink. 

Get something from the bakery case to go with that coffee. 
If you go to the right after entering the store you'll enter the 3rd room.  This is an overview of that room and a view of the children's section. 
Some wonderful little seats for some little readers. 
Whoever is supervising those little ones might as well settle into this comfy chair. 
A wonderful variety of games.
If you like puzzles and you like the Jayhawks this is for you. 
A nice sitting area in the 3rd room. 
A good assortment of used books. 
Find these shelves if you're on a tight budget. 
Overview of the 3rd room looking toward the children's section. 

With Melinda on the left and Niki on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at The Nook.  Thanks for a great visit.