Sunday, August 31, 2014

Warwick's - La Jolla, CA

Warwick's Books - La Jolla, CA

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When I first walked into Warwick's I became very nervous.  Let's see, there's the jewelry, backpacks, several aisles of greeting cards.  Oh good, lots of business supplies, tech accessories, leather goods, cool pens and markers.  Wow, there is so much in this store I could hardly take it all in.  Am I in the wrong place?  Where are the books?  And then I slide over to the OTHER section of the store.  Ahh, there they are!  Here at Warwick's there are two front door entrances.  One entrance is into the part of the store with gifts and other items and the other entrance is into the book part of the store.  The books have been found, crisis averted.  But you may have to buy more than a book at this versatile indie.

Joe, the general manager, on the right.  
This indie probably has more "extras' and sidelines than any other that I've visited so far.  You can certainly find some wonderful gift items here for any occasion as well as the right card to go with it.  But there are also many practical school and business supplies which would make the store a great stop even if you don't need a book.

But you will need a book and you'll enjoy your visit to that side of the store.  Well organized, very neat, and lots of great staff picks so you can't go wrong.  All new books here and all located on one level so don't worry about climbing stairs.  The store is also very active with author visits and it is really cool how they do this in the store.  All the bookshelves and tables are on rolling casters so they can be easily moved to open the space for events.  There are probably other indies that have rolling shelves and tables but I just haven't noticed it.

This store has been family owned for 4 generations and Adrian, the book buyer here, thinks that it is the longest continually owned family independent in the country.  I didn't get to meet Nancy, one of the co-owners, but it is easy to see the knowledge and skill she brings to this great store.  And it is especially evident with the wonderful staff people that I got to meet here.  Adrian, the book buyer, Joe, the general manager, Julie, the events coordinator, Emily, a staffer (who has ties to Jan and Prairie Lights in Iowa City.  Unbelievable!), and Acacia, another staffer.  Great people to visit with about the store and its history.  Warwick's is doing a fine business here and enjoys great local support as well as some tourist business.  It's so nice to visit these stores when everyone is so welcoming.  When you visit Warwick's you'll know exactly what I mean.

When you visit this absolutely gorgeous seaside town of La Jolla, go down to Warwick's on Girard Ave and sit down outside to play some chess.  Then go on inside through either entrance.  Buy some jewelry for your wife and then go get her a book on the book side of the store.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Actually, didn't finish.  The Dog Stars, Peter Heller.  Recommended to me by more than one person and gets some good reviews but didn't work for me.  Many of you will like this one, however.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Dinner, Herman Koch.  Liking it so far.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Great Escape, Kati Marton.  This is not the Steve McQueen, James Garner WWII movie.

Year-round outdoor chess.  Where else but La Jolla, CA!

This is what I saw upon entering.  I was concerned because I didn't see the books!

Good, good, more gift items.  Where are the books?

Lots and lots of greeting cards.  Very nice.  The books, please?

Good, good, office supplies, art supplies, blah blah blah.  Books, anyone?

AHH yes, a new leather handbag for my BOOKS!  Yoo Hoo, books?

AHHH... be still my heart.  Pulse calming.  Blood pressure dropping.  The books have been found!!

Great display of staff picks.  
Active events schedule.  
Part of the great children's section.

Holding the guide for my journey, My Bookstore, by Ron Rice and Adrian holding one of my bookmarks.  

Julie, the events coordinator, holding My Bookstore open to the Warwick's page.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bart's Books - Ojai, CA

Bart's Books - Ojai, CA

Regular readers know that I've mentioned how unique each independent bookstore is that I visit.  Bart's Books in Ojai, CA (pronounced oh-hi) takes uniqueness to a whole new level.  None of the indies I've visited so far can touch this place.  It's been labeled the outdoor bookstore.  Look at the pictures below and you'll see what I mean.  A couple of outdoor courtyards, no roofs, outdoor furniture, and Southern California weather.  Palm trees growing "inside" and bicycles parked "inside."  How cool is this?!  They have a cat here but if you have allergies don't worry, you're outside!  And room upon room of books.

This bookstore has been around for 50 years and was originally started by Richard "Bart" Bartindale.  He started selling books from his house at this current location and it continued to grow from that point.  The house is now the bookstore, inside and out.  Truthfully, there are lots of books outside and lots of indoor rooms filled with books.  This store is almost entirely used books but have recently started selling some new books as well.  In this town of approximately 8000, there are no other competitors so the new books sales fill a void.  They also have used CDs and DVDs for sale but aren't active in buying those back.  The store takes in books three days a week or by appointment and this flow of inventory is outstanding.  There is no computer inventory because of the volume of intake and turnover.  No matter your reading preference, they have all interests covered here at Bart's.

I was disappointed on my visit that the owner Matt H. wasn't available but I got to meet two of his great staffers, Annetka and Dylan.  They were busy on this day but were still able to take time to visit with me about the store, its history, and the community.  Like many indies, this one enjoys great local support as well as some tourist traffic.  This is yet another example of a great indie I've never heard of.  Didn't know about it until a day before my visit when Katie O., the manager at The Last Bookstore, said I need to check out Bart's Books in Ojai.  These indie people continue to give me more than just book recommendations, they send me to competitors!  A true sisterhood and brotherhood of these passionate bookstore people.

But IndieBob, if the place is outside, what happens in bad weather?  Well Dorothy, this isn't Kansas.  Or Iowa.  Yes, a lot of the books are outside but on the rare day when it does rain it usually comes straight down with little or no wind.  There is just enough overhang that the books are protected.

But IndieBob, what if Bart's is closed and I just have to get a book?  Many books are shelved outside the "outside", right along the sidewalk for crying out loud!  So anytime day or night, pick out a book and throw your two quarters under the door.  So readers in Ojai and all my readers who will eventually visit Bart's, you now have no excuses.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Monsieur Le Commandant, Romain Slocombe.  WWII in Paris.  Not liking it.  Wasn't recommended by anyone, I just picked it out.  That will teach me.  I may jump out before finishing.  Plenty in my pile waiting their turn.  But hey, we're all different so someone out there might like this.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Love And Shame And Love, Peter Orner.

Bart's Books from across the street.  Notice the bookshelves outside.  These books are there and available any time.  

Outside of Bart's Books with books on the outside.  You can get one any time, day or night.  

An outside bookshelf.  

Buying one of the outside books and Bart's is closed?  Follow these directions   

This is the view from "inside" Bart's Books.  

Inside Bart's Books.  Enjoy a book and the great weather.  

Another view from inside Bart's Books.  

Lots of inventory here.  

There are also aisles of books in the several rooms.  

One of the many rooms with books.  

From inside the bookstore.  

If you must sit totally inside, here's your chair.  

Another independent bookstore cat hard at work.  

This is the café in Bart's Books.  

Incoming books waiting to find a home on the shelves.  

This was the garage part of the original house.  Great collection of art books in this area.  

L-R, yours truly, Anneke, and Dylan.  You guys were super.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Another view of Bart's from across the street.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chaucer's Bookstore - Santa Barbara, CA

Chaucer's Books - Santa Barbara, CA

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How does an independent bookstore succeed, thrive?  How does it endure when so many struggle?  Ed, the book buyer here at Chaucer's, was great to talk to and narrowed it down to a few things at this independent.  Forty years in business; breadth of inventory, meaning a whole lot of books; great location in an affluent community with great local support; and give customers a reason to come to the store.  I think there's one more reason for this fine indie.  I didn't get to meet Mahrie, the owner, while I was here but it's obvious she knows the indie business well.  I sure felt like I met her as a kindred spirit through Ed, Kerry, and Lana, some of the great staff here at Chaucer's.

There aren't a lot of places to sit down here at Chaucer's but there's a reason for that.  This place is absolutely packed with books.  On high-reaching shelves, in piles in the book aisles, and even still packed in boxes at the ends of bookshelves.  Don't confuse this with disorganization though because this place is very well organized.  When Ed says he has breadth of inventory, he's not joking.  In fact, in this average sized store you could probably put their inventory up against some of the larger indies.  There are no used books here but if they ever decided to take that on they would have to expand.  They have quite a few sidelines here but not overwhelmingly so.  Many indies need these sidelines to help their profit margin but that doesn't seem to be a critical factor in the success here at Chaucer's.  There is a very large room of children's books and items.  Again, in terms of breadth of inventory, probably one of the best I've seen.  You really can find any subject/genre here but since many professors and students from UCSB visit this bookstore, philosophy, religion, science, and poetry are all strong and deep in inventory.  And, of course, in a store called Chaucer's you can find a lot of classics and pre-20th century literature.

Breadth of inventory isn't limited to the books though.  Breadth of inventory is also evident on the staff with wonderful people like Ed, Kerry, and Lana.  I was here on a Tuesday morning and the place was busy.  Yet they patiently took time to visit with me about Chaucer's, books, and all things indies.  I'm fortunate to meet such wonderful and kind people to talk to while on this journey.

What else?  Well, for those of you keeping score this indie doesn't have a cat.  Ed says they're too close to the parking lot.  No worries.  This indie doesn't need a cat to sell books!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman.  While reading this I was really liking it.  When I finished I loved it.  Story of a very grumpy old guy that will make you laugh and cry.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Monsieur Le Commandant, Romain Slocombe.  Just started.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  So Big, Edna Ferber, recommended to me by Big, who else?!  Thanks Big.   Euphoria, Lily King.

Outside of Chaucer's on a wonderful day.  

My view just inside the entrance.  

The check-out area and some of the sidelines including book bags and t-shrits.  

Activity books for kids.  Lots to choose from.  

Huge children's section in this indie and here are many of the stuffed animals waiting to find a home.  

L-R, Ed, Kerry, and Lana.  These guys were great.  Thanks for a fantastic visit!  

Same group with yours truly inserted.  

Lots of greeting cards and some of Mahrie's great photos.  

One of the long aisles at Chaucer's.  Can't find a book on the shelves?  Check the floor for more!  

Need a place to sit?  If this is open grab it!

Lots of games here for the young and young at heart.  

Chaucer's and classics - a natural fit.  

Seriously people, get in here and buy a book so they can unbox these and get them on the shelves!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Last Book Store - Los Angeles, CA

The Last Bookstore - Los Angeles, CA

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Regular readers know that my project and journey is to visit every independent bookstore detailed in My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  The Last Bookstore (and thank goodness it really isn't the last one) in Los Angeles isn't in the book but boy is it worthy.  It's a bookstore, a museum, and a gathering place.  It even feels a bit like being in a very old library which I think is great.  Best of all, I got to meet Katie, the manager, and RJ, the supervisor, who couldn't  have been more generous with their time during my visit.

It really does have a library feel when you enter.  Two levels of books, new and used, very spacious.  This store originally was used books only but now has new and used.  The very visible book buy-back program will give you store credits or cash.  There is also a buy-back for music and videos.  Low on cash and still want a book?  Go upstairs to the dollar room.  They have a great area for author events and plenty of room to accommodate large crowds so most events are held on site.  Business here is going quite well and this indie is able to succeed with very few sidelines, those extra non-book items.  Some t-shirts, book bags, and journals and that's about it.  Lots of vinyl here for music fans and this might be a good sign for indies.  As the popularity of vinyl continues to re-emerge, that same pendulum may swing towards independent bookstores and books.

As with most of my visits the people here were super.  Katie and RJ gave me so much information I can't begin to reshare it all here.  It's easy to see why things are going so well here.  These two are smart, they know the business, they can easily talk to customers, and they're darn nice people.  They will encourage you to go upstairs and check out the labyrinth.  A very cool area of books arranged, well, like a labyrinth.  Also check out the very cool tunnel of books, part of the labyrinth.  I told Katie this place is also a museum and you'll see that when you go upstairs.

If you take a car here, there are many public parking lots available and you won't have to walk far.  Or have Dad and the kids go to Disneyland and drop Mom off at The Last Bookstore.  Or better yet, drop Mom and Dad off at The Last Bookstore and let the 16 year old son get some good driving experience in Los Angeles traffic!  Yeah, right, IndieBob.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman.  Almost done.  Story of a grumpy old man who doesn't like anyone or anything.  I'm liking it.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  My Last Bookstore t-shirt, of course.

Across the street from The Last Bookstore.  

If you can't find something to read here you aren't trying.  

My view upon entering.  

Another view upon entering.  

This is the check-out.  Underneath this wooden countertop, it is all supported by books.  Very cool.  

Oh yeah, go ahead and get comfy and at least PRETEND to be reading!  

Get your vinyl here.  

Author events held in this area, a great space on the main floor.  

RJ, supervisor, on the left and Katie the store manager.    

RJ, Katie, and yours truly.  

You'll see this creepy thing on your way upstairs to the labyrinth.  

Very cool display of books.  Just like being in a museum.  

This is a tunnel created by an archway of books.  

After you walk through the book tunnel you can get to this room.  

This is the outside of the book tunnel.  

View from the 2nd level looking down to the main floor.