Friday, December 22, 2017

The Dial Bookshop - Chicago, IL

The Dial Bookshop, Chicago, IL
(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

Readers, have you ever had the joy of seeing a newborn baby?  The happiness of the baby, the parents, and all who come into contact with them is something that washes over everyone.  How fitting it is this time of year that I was able to experience this joy by seeing a one-month old baby bookstore that sparkled and shined just like a real new-born baby (minus the drool!).  I will remind you all again, the independent bookstore IS returning and I see it just about everywhere.

Like all babies, this one is beautiful.  A one-level, multi-room store packed with books floor to ceiling.  Each room has wall-sized windows allowing lots of light in as well as a great view of Michigan Ave.  The store can be found on the 2nd floor of the historic 
Fine Arts Building.  History and architecture buffs will love visiting the building in addition to the bookstore.  Because the store is so new, it is difficult for the owners to know how to curate the book inventory and sidelines.  The summer tourist season will play a huge part in their direction and this stretch of Michigan Ave typically has streams of tourists in those months.  I think this location is super to take advantage of those customers.  For now, the store offers mostly used books with a few new and some sidelines including greeting cards, stationery, journals, and unique pens and pencils.  They also have some collectable and vintage books available.  The store is fortunate that the building it is in is owned by a man who is a supporter and patron of the arts allowing the store to be here with a very reasonable lease.  Events are in their future and boy do they have a great set-up.  Right across the hall is a 750-seat newly refurbished auditorium.  For smaller events, they have access to a 100-seat auditorium in the same building.  I think the store is positioned (and located) perfectly for a long, successful run.

Aaron L. along with his partner Mary G., co-own this store and the Pilsen Community Bookstore (haven't been to this one yet, but definitely on my list to visit).  So far, so good.  This is one of those places that will be easily discovered in downtown Chicago.  Keeping this store a secret would be like trying to hide a St. Bernard behind a handkerchief, it won't work!  As Aaron told me, the store will continue to evolve, expand, and grow.  Get there now so you can see this beautiful baby and follow its success and changes through the years.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Brave Deeds, David Abrams.  Story of six American soldiers who go AWOL in Baghdad to go to another base for their sergeant's memorial.  Things don't go as planned and life and death challenges emerge.  This is a work of fiction that I'm sure has some threads of truth.  Excellent account.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Farm, Tom Rob Smith.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra.        

The Fine Arts Building is absolutely beautiful, worth a visit just by itself.  If you look up to the 2nd floor from the outside, you'll see rooms of books.  That's the bookstore.  

The beautiful entryway of the Fine Arts Building.  It feels hallowed.  Go through the doors and take a left to the elevator.  One of the few elevators you'll ride that still has an attendant.  

The bookstore is on the 2nd floor and this is the entrance.  

The hallway outside the bookstore.  An eager customer catches her breath before entering.  

Hallway signage.  

It's hard to see from this picture but the art design on the window is fantastic.  Behind the window is Aaron, the co-owner.  

View looking into the store and slightly left.  

View looking to the right after entering.  

Beautiful display of new books in the front room.  

The store was named after a literary magazine, The Dial.  The magazine for a period of time had its offices in the building that now houses the bookstore.  

You'll find this room to the far right in the store.  

ALWAYS ask your independent bookstore about gift cards.  These make great gifts and are no-brainers.  

This case has a few of the vintage and collectable books available.

Looking out the windows and to the left (north) you can get a great view of part of the Chicago skyline.  The traffic you see is on Michigan Ave.  

These bookshelves look like any other but they have a history.  Aaron got these from the bleachers of a high school gym in Dixon, IL, home of President Ronald Reagan.  It is probable that Reagan's rear end sat on these bleachers that now support books.  

Just a few of the items of local interest.  

These shelves are in the middle room, specializing in art and architecture among other things.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

A nice display of journals, stationery, and unique pencils.  

An overview of the general fiction room.  The higher shelves contain many books already shelved at reasonable heights. At some point, they may add some ladders on rails.  

This is the view from the general fiction room looking toward the front entrance and checkout desk, barely visible.  

If you want to see some unique pens and pencils, checkout this shelf display near the checkout desk.  

With Aaron on the left, one of the fine co-owners at The Dial Bookshop.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Paperbacks & Pieces - Winona, MN

Paperbacks & Pieces, Winona, MN
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This is one of those bookstores that I've known about for awhile and just hadn't visited until now.  From the outside, this bookstore has a very unassuming and simple appearance.  From the outside, you wouldn't know that this is a successful, 40-year business that has deep roots in the community and continues to show positive results.  From the outside, you wouldn't know that inside are two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet and who are able to give you lots of recommendations for your next book.  Readers, this is the classic, "don't judge a book by its cover," bookstore.

Paperbacks And Pieces is located on one of the busiest streets through Winona making it a very visible location.  Of its 40 years in business, its been in this location for the last 13.  It's also a great location because the owner, Shelley O., owns the building and the upstairs apartment, a great benefit for any indie owner.  The very spacious one-level store offers a variety of new and used books with most of the new ones located near the front of the store.  They offer store credit or cash for the books that customers bring in for trade.  There are a few sidelines available including greeting cards, candles, and journals to name a few.  The greeting cards sell especially well.  I really like the events space they have in the back of the store.  Lots of space for book clubs and the monthly Art Of Words, an event that has a variety of speakers.  Shelley is hoping to increase the events schedule and I always think this is good if bookstores can do it.  Lastly, I thought the children's section was decorated and presented in an attractive manner.

Sadly, I must share that Shelley is actively looking for a buyer for the bookstore (ok, not sadly for Shelley but sad for those of us who've met her and enjoy her presence in the store).  It's certainly not due to poor business because things are going very well here.  But, after 20 years owning the business she's decided its time for a new chapter in her life.  Congratulations Shelley!  Opportunity is knocking readers, answer the call.

Shelley and Crystal are super people to project that independent bookstore spirit.  Pay them a visit and enjoy the same wonderful experience I did.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Going Into Town, Roz Chast.  This author is a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine and I absolutely love everything she does.  This book is a graphic novel about NYC, and in addition to being hilarious and featuring Chast's quirky sketches, it actually has some good advice for people visiting The Big Apple.  Even if you don't read graphic novels, I recommend every single one of this author's work.  And it is a very quick read.  Highly recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Brave Deeds, David Abrams.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased, but gifted.  Slider, Pete Hautman.  Thanks Shelley.

This building has only been three businesses during the course of its life.  As you look at this storefront, you might be able to envision that it once was a small grocery store.  

Interested parties should contact the store and owner ASAP.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Some great deals on Christmas books located in this bin near the front entrance.  

Find this display for more great deals.  

Kids will like this display, also located near the front of the store.  

A long aisle of spinners.  

Praire Lights customers in Iowa City will be very familiar with this author.  

A great place to sit in the front of the store for browsing books or watching traffic.  

Nice display of popular books.  

Just like this great bookstore!

A variety of sidelines.  These can be found throughout the store.  

Tired of waiting for a book on hold at the library?  Consider a rental.  Great titles available.  

These are the terms, very reasonable.  

If you know any Star Trek fans, send them to this store.  

Another great place to stretch out with a book.  Please, at least pretend to be reading.  

I love this events space located in the back of the store.  If you have a book club, you should consider meeting here.  

Looking into the children's section.  I love the long, slinky weiner dog hanging from the ceiling.   

Another view into the children's section.  

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

These are still a thing.  

This is what the bookstore looked like before it was a bookstore.  

Every.  Single.  Bookstore.  

Only in an independent bookstore.  I believe that the pictured book is the first of a multi-set volume.  

Every year the store does some kind of book tree in the front window.  

With Crystal on the left and Shelley on the right, holding part time Indie Bob Spot staffer Gettysburg T.  Thanks for a great visit.