Friday, February 24, 2017

John K. King Used & Rare Books - Detroit, MI

John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit, MI
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Massively overwhelming.  What I relate to you here in this brief write-up and these few pictures won't even begin to cover the totality of this incredible used and rare book store.  It is billed as the largest used bookstore in Michigan and in my experiences of visiting bookstores around the country, I would put it in the top two along with The Book Barn in Niantic, CT.  For people who enjoy bookstores, this is your haven and your "must-see."  This is definitely a destination and the customers who visit here reflect that.

When you enter King Books you'll be welcomed and greeted by Deb, the receptionist and staffer at the front counter.  She has the perfect personality for this job and I had a great time meeting her.  After she welcomes you, she'll ask if you need a store directory.  When she asks you this, your response will be "yes."  This bookstore is housed in a large, 4-story warehouse that's over 100 years old.  Finding a specific book is impossible without a directory/map.  There is no data base for the inventory but I can tell you that everyone who works here is extremely helpful and knowledgeable.  Each floor has a manager and Sarah, who is the manager on the 4th floor, found a book for me that I'd been trying to find for quite sometime.

There are vintage books located on every floor near the genre they would be associated with.  Within the store there are many non-book items of historical interest.  These can be found on every floor and along the stairways between the floors.  There is an additional building next door that houses the rare book collection but you will need an appointment or a staffer with you to visit these books.  If I were a collector I would be a regular here.  And as if four floors packed with books aren't enough, there are two other King Books stores in Detroit (although one of those is closing soon).

I was so fortunate during my visit to meet Mr. King, the founder and owner.  What a story he has of beginning the business by selling books out of the trunk of his car in 1965.  The store has been in its current location since the 1980s so it is on a great run.  And the people here couldn't have been nicer.  From Mr. King to Deb, Sarah, and all the others I talked to during my visit.  What a great indie with equally wonderful people among the endless aisles of books.

If you're a bookstore enthusiast, book lover, or even someone with just a casual interest, check this place out.  There is an obscure book here for everyone and it's just waiting for you to come here and find it.  And the search is half the fun.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee.  There is some great literature out there written for young adults and middle grades.  I encourage you to find something recommended in those categories and give it a try as I enjoy doing that occasionally.  This book would be for middle readers.  This is a bit of a fantasy, a story of a little girl and her efforts to save the world, where kindness and love will ultimately win out.   The story includes an evil queen, a magic sword, a quest, and a museum of odd and strange things.  I lost a little interest but in the end it was very good.  Certainly recommended for middle grade readers.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Fever, Megan Abbott.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant, Douglass Wallop.  Parnassus On Wheels, Christopher Morley.  Rogue Lawyer, John Grisham.  200 Years Of Detroit Booksellers, Kathryn Mackay.  

Another exterior view from the parking lot.  This warehouse used to be a glove factory.  

View of the front of the warehouse looking at the entrance.  This indie is nationally recognized.  

If you come here and need to count all the books to confirm if it's the largest in Michigan, plan on spending a few years here!  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Walk up the steps and enter through the door on the left.  Prepare to be awed.  

After entering and walking up the short flight of stairs, this is what you'll see entering the first floor, looking to the right.  

Check this out AND pick up a directory/map.   

There are lots of historical relics of interest throughout the store, such as these photos of the graduates from a local college in 1925.  

If you're only in room 4, you have a LONG way to go.  

If I took pictures of every book aisle in this store, you would need to bookmark your place on this article and come back to it.  

I found this in the music section and it is over 40 years old.  This book gave me headaches during my undergrad.  I didn't buy it.  

Antique collectors should also spend time at this store.  

I love pictures like this one.  

Throughout the store you can find old books located in the genres they're related to.  If you're looking for the Art Journals from the late 1800s, here you go.  

A great mural telling you to proceed upstairs and the 2nd floor.  For shoppers who are unable to walk upstairs, the store has an elevator that they will gladly help you with.  

Looking into the 2nd floor.  

If you can find an employee, this might be helpful  Honestly, it is very easy to find booksellers and not only are they nice, but they are very knowledgeable.  

Unavailable on Amazon.  

Shelves made with boards and cinder blocks.  

This is up on the 4th floor.  Even just one floor of books here is much larger than most indies.  

With Mr. John King on the right, the fine founder and owner at John K. King Used & Rare Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bookbound - Ann Arbor, MI

Bookbound, Ann Arbor, MI
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The Bookbound welcoming committee, Chester.  
Readers, you are absolutely going to love this place and the greeting you get here.  When I walked in, one of the friendliest bookstore dogs I've met, Chester, came ambling over to me with tail wagging and welcomed me to the store.  For some reason, I haven't been welcomed by any bookstore cats in the same manner.  Yes, this is a fine bookstore.  Yes, Peter and Megan, the owner, are wonderful people.  Yes, of course, lots of books.  Yes, yes, blah blah blah.  If you come to this store for no other reason, you must come to meet Chester.  Heck, even Peter told me that people come here just to see him and pet him.  But once you get past Chester, continue on through a really neat and roomy indie that you will thoroughly enjoy.

Bookbound is a one-level store with two spacious rooms of books and a few sidelines.  There is lots of room to move around in the store and Peter and Megan told me that they made a conscious effort to have a handicap accessible store including space to move and maneuver, wider doorway, and an accessible bathroom.  They offer all new books with the exception of a handful of used books.  They are not in the market of pursuing used books but when presented with the opportunity, they will offer store credit for particular books in excellent condition.  There are a small number of sidelines available and the greeting cards sell especially well.  The store has been open only 3 1/2 years, relatively new, and the good news here is that business has been positive each year.  Peter worked for Borders for many years and the experience has really helped here for buying books to stock on the shelves.  It has also helped that Peter and Megan are both learning their customer base better and are offering those books for their interests.  I especially like the arrangement of the books in the first room with all of the covers facing outward.  In the 2nd room, the books are shelved in a more conventional manner and if you want a bargain, look for a dot on the spines.  

The store is situated in a small shopping plaza (free parking) and it is conveniently located next to Cardamon Indian Restaurant, an outstanding and very popular restaurant that attracts customers from as far as 60 miles away.  This really helps Bookbound as does the proximity of the University of Michigan.  The store has been able to do some institutional buying for some professors and a nearby hospital, a great advantage.  

So here's my suggested itinerary.  Visit a renowned local restaurant; go meet and pet a friendly and welcoming dog; have a wonderful conversation with Megan and Peter about all sorts of books; browse their collections; make a purchase; repeat often.  If you're anywhere near Ann Arbor, this should be your weekly diversion.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance.  Author writes about his experiences growing up in Kentucky and Ohio in the Appalachia culture and the low percentage of "hillbillies" who are able to escape the culture and succeed.  Despite all the challenges, the author goes on to a successful life and career.  This book was excellent.  Recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet.  

Another exterior view.  

One of the neatly arranged display windows.  

Need an activity for your toddler at home?  Put this on your schedule.  

View looking to the right from the entrance.  Notice all books displayed with the covers facing outward.  I love this.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

I always like seeing the staff pick displays.  

A few of the sidelines available.  

Some of the greeting cards available.  

The store offers a small assortment of used books.  

At the back of the main room proceed through this very wide opening into the 2nd room.  

The store offers events, mostly with authors with local ties.  

Looking to the right and inside the second room from the first room   

The table display as you enter the 2nd room.  

Looking to the left as you enter the second room.  

A portion of the children's section.  This is where you bring your toddler for story time.  

I love the area rug in the children's section.  

A great place to try out a book.  

Display of non-fiction in the second room.  

A nice overview of the second room.  Scrupulous readers may recognize the celebrity seated and reading on the left.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Not sure it shows up on this picture but look for the dots on the spines for a bargain-priced book.  

A much better picture of Chester.  Seriously, look at this cutie!  How can you not visit here and say hello to this guy?!!

With Megan in the center and Peter on the right, the fine co-owners at Bookbound.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bookbug - Kalamazoo, MI

Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
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My very first thought when I walked in the front door of Bookbug was, why haven't I been here yet.  If you've never been here, I hope you have the same reaction when you visit.  And after entering the store and spending some time browsing, here's what I like about this place, EVERYTHING!  A great selection of books with creative displays, an outstanding children's section (one of the store's strengths in my opinion), a variety of sidelines, easy and free parking, and more.  And of course, the people here are as nice and knowledgeable as any I've met.  Just another example that you can find quality independent bookstores anywhere across America, including this gem in Kalamazoo, MI.

Joanna P., one of the co-owners along with Derek and Nicole, told me that Bookbug opened in 2008, a time of economic uncertainty.  But as with many indie owners, they didn't really think about that and jumped right in.  Since opening, they've seen steady business growth each year, such a positive sign for this bookstore and the community.  They opened originally as a children's bookstore but now offer books for everyone.  Additionally, they offer a nice variety of sidelines including greeting cards, crazy socks, music on vinyl, t-shirts, and LOTS more.  You can easily find gift ideas here for anyone.  I thought their book displays were especially creative and attractive.  The store has a great location in the Oakland Plaza with many other like-minded businesses.  Bookbug has a very active events schedule, hosting on-site or at larger venues off-site if needed.  They also have a weekly story time in the store every Thursday morning.  There is a strong core of local customers and community support is obvious for a store that is 9 years old.  I especially like that they're able to do book fairs with some of the local schools.

If you're not a regular reader of The Indie Bob Spot, I continue to drive home a common theme.  The people you meet in bookstores are the best.  The ownership team Joanna, Derek, and Nicole along with Sarah, one of the booksellers are wonderful to meet and so fun to talk to about books and the store.  I feel so fortunate to meet people like this all along my journey.

If you're in the Kalamazoo area and haven't been to Bookbug yet, you're making a big mistake.  Or if you're driving along I94, take the Oakland Dr. exit and head north, you'll drive right to it.  I can guarantee you'll fall in love with this place when you visit, just like I did.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Norwegian By Night, Derek B. Miller.  An 82-year old grandfather is transplanted from his home in NYC to live with his adult granddaughter and her husband in Norway.  He becomes witness to a crime in their apartment building and flees with a little boy who needs his help.  A pretty good crime fiction book.

CURRENTLY READING:  Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A really cool Bookbug t-shirt.  

Another exterior view.  

One of the display windows.  

Bookbug has an active calendar of events.  

View looking into the bookstore from the front entrance.  Faithful readers will surely recognize the celebrity squarely in the middle of the photo.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Only a few reasons to visit Bookbug.  

Several indies do this promotion and I love it.  Take a chance on a book wrapped in a plain brown wrapper.  

This is what I mean by a creative book display.  The books of authors who will be appearing at Bookbug.  

A long wall of fiction to the right in the store.  Notice all the staff recommendations with the "shelf talkers."  

Some of the items of local interest.  

I think you can find a pair of socks to "fit" anyone!

A nice display of the new paperbacks.  

If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, come to the Bookbug and find this display!

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Lots of great stuff here for kids.  

Kids are going to love this house to play in back in the children's section.  

Notice the roof of the house made of books.  And if you look a little further, you might see a book bug.  

Find a literary onesie for your baby.  

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

Music on vinyl and t-shirts.  

You can even get Bookbug candy bars.  These go really good with any book you get!

With Derek on the left and Joanna on the right, two of the fine co-owners at Bookbug.  Thanks for a great visit.