|A Room Of One's Own - Madison, WI
It is very appropriate for this project and this bookstore that I can finally use the phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover." This place looks normal enough from the outside, a typical bookstore front. When I enter these places I tend to get absorbed immediately inside the front door. Don't let that happen to you! This place wanders and rambles the further through the store you advance. Lots of rooms with lots of space and lots of books. Heck, there are even rooms devoted to containing their own genres, like a sci-fi room and a poetry room. A Room Of One's Own could easily be SEVERAL rooms of one's own!
This bookstore is not featured in Ron Rice's, My Bookstore, but boy is it deserving. Other than a café, this store has everything a premium indie needs to be 5-star. Solid, experienced ownership who are friendly and knowledgeable; huge inventory of new and used books; active author events; fantastic location (although parking is tricky); a modest selection of sidelines; and lots of space in the store and lots of places to sit. For me this all adds up to an incredible bookstore experience (and you can't get that on Amazon!). The organization here is fantastic and browsing is very easy to do. The store is also tied closely to the University of Wisconsin and does a lot of business with students looking for books for classes.
The store is co-owned by Nancy and Sandi T. I had a great chat with them as well as one of the booksellers, Jess. Sandi has been with the store for over 40 years but it has only been in its current location for over two years. The location is just off State St., a popular area with many unique shops, cafés, pubs, and is very busy with student traffic. Sandi told me that while there is strong local business for the store, she said approximately 20% of the business comes from out of town. This university is huge which draws conferences of all kinds and they seek out this store when they're in town. There are also customers who come from surrounding towns because many do not have local bookstores. There is a great collection of greeting cards here and many people come just for those. The sidelines, while not critical, make up an important part of the profit margin. Sandi says that things are trending well for this bookstore but with this location, the competition is with bars and restaurants since they could make huge profits if they were in this store's location.
If you've never been to Madison you need to make this town a destination. Lots of uniqueness and lots of independently owned businesses. And now when you visit, I've given you a wonderful bookstore that you won't want to miss. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
CURRENTLY READING: A Tale For The Time Being, Ruth Ozeki. Enjoying it.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: God Got A Dog, Cynthia Ryland & Marla Frazee. I don't normally go in for a poetry book but this looked very good and with nice illustrations.
|Avol's Books is a former independent used bookstore. It is now partnered with A Room Of One's Own and under the same roof.
|Check out the bargains before you even enter the store!
|View just inside front entrance looking toward the rear. There is much more than what you see here.
|View looking to the right from the front entrance.
|Because this is Wisconsin in the winter you'll need a scarf.
|View looking left from the front entrance. Lots of greeting cards and in the space further to the left behind the cards is the children's section.
|Lots of local author and local interest books, located in the front of the store.
|These are upscale bags offered here. It takes 4-5 hardback books to equal the profit of one of these bags.
|In the children's section. A great place for a parent and a toddler!
|A portion of the children's section.
|A very small portion of the fiction section. Staff picks can be found throughout the store.
|Proceeding through the center of the store. As you continue past this point there are more rooms and more books.
|Lots of books in this area are for students at the university.
|A great place to browse a book.
|These are only SOME of the book subjects in this room.
|View from the rear of the store looking toward the front.
|A great area to sit and discuss a book.
|Part of the book organization.
|Proceed through this hallway and find additional book rooms along the right.
|If you're a sci-fi fan, you'll find a room with all of your favorites.
|This won't work with Amazon. Thank you independent bookstores.
|With Co-owners Sandi in the middle, and Nancy on the right. Thanks for a a great visit!