Saturday, March 27, 2021

Kismet Books - Verona, WI

Kismet Books, Verona, WI

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I'm always fascinated by the bookstores I've visited that had previous lives.  For example, Kismet Books is in the oldest house in Verona, built around 1848.  Originally, this was a private residence and then reincarnated at various times as a post office, a car dealer, apartments, a florist shop, and now a beautifully refashioned independent bookstore that maintains the integrity of the structure's history.  Getting to see these buildings and learn their history is every bit as fun as touring the bookstores themselves.  Verona is a growing community located near Madison and fills a need in this area.  It has a great corner location on the busiest intersection in town.  And it has a knowledgeable and conversant owner who is a perfect match for bookstore and town. 

 Again, I'm doing cartwheels over the fact that since resuming my journey I'm visiting new bookstores that have opened during the pandemic.  Owner Rye K. started working on the interior in October and opened one month later in November, very impressive considering all the work needed.  There is something here for everybody.  In addition to new and used books, the store has an extensive offering of sidelines including jewelry, greeting cards, coffee, candles, socks, and lots of artwork by local artists.  There is a spacious and nicely decorated children's room in the back of the store.  The upstairs area is a gorgeous art studio offering work by local artists, one as young as 11-years old.  You can also snag yourself an art workshop in this space.  Currently, the store has been holding virtual events but eventually this upstairs space will be perfect for live events.  

Rye has done a great job of getting this business up and running.  She already has a solid core of regular customers but there's room for plenty more on that bandwagon.  And one of my FAVORITE things never to be underestimated, they have a parking lot with free and ample parking.  

There you go, Verona.  No reason to delay visiting this new member of the business community and supporting shop local, buy local.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Seven Kinds Of People You Find In Bookshops, Shaun Bythell.  The author is the owner of a used book store in Scotland and would be well-qualified to identify the people mentioned in the title (the bore, the exhausted parents, the abandoned child, the farter, and many more).  It's a quick read and for people who visit bookstores, this is very entertaining.    I loved it.  If you've ever worked in a bookstore, this is a must read.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Time After Time, Karl Alexander.   


Wonderful view of a bookshop in a historical building. 

Indie Bob never underestimates the value of a large, free bookstore parking lot.

Straight ahead through this door to a wonderful bookstore.  

You've heard of the little free libraries?  This is a little free library AND pantry.  Way to go Kismet. 
Learn a bit of the history about the house on this plaque outside the store.  
View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

The store offers a variety of sidelines including journals. 
Find this jewelry display in the front of the store. 

Kismet has an abundance of greeting cards. 
One of the nice book shelves in the front half of the store. 

A book nook, a comfortable chair, and a nice lamp.  Wake me at closing time. 

Coffee isn't available to drink in the store yet so purchase your own and brew at home.  
Take time to enjoy the old timbers in the main floor ceiling. 
Kismet has a large children's room in the rear of the main floor.  This is the view looking into that room. 
Kids will love this spinner display of stuffed animals. 
Two little chairs for two little readers.  

Another overview of the children's room. 
This is a thing.  Plant the card. 
This is fantastic.  The mural on the wall behind the check-out counter was done by a local artist. 

This is the Brick House Studio on the 2nd floor.  An expansive space that features outstanding local artists.  This will be a great events room. 
An example of some of the wonderful artwork available. 
Artists of all ages are welcomed.  These works are by an 11-year old. 

Find these locally made soy candles at the check-out counter. 

With Rye, the fine owner at Kismet Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Galena Book & Paper - Galena, IL

Galena Book & Paper, Galena, IL

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Due to the pandemic over the last 12+ months you would think that there would be a dearth of new indies opening.  Granted, there are many that haven't survived or are struggling but since resuming my journey I'm 2 for 2 on bookstores that opened during the pandemic.  Galena Book & Paper has been open for about 6 months since October and I continue to be enthusiastic about all I have heard and read about these newbies.  As owner Jason told me, so far so good.  

Galena, IL is an ideal tourist destination with a historic main street that offers a variety of shops and novelties.  The one thing this picturesque town lacked was a new book store.  Problem solved with Galena Book & Paper that offers all new books and a few used books.  Customers can receive store credit or cash for the books the store will take.  This store is the missing puzzle piece to complete any community.  AND, speaking of puzzles (nice segue Indie Bob), that happens to be one of the popular sidelines you can get here.  As Jason told me, the sidelines are an important part of the business margin.  In addition to the puzzles, you can find a wide assortment of greeting cards, a variety of quirky office supply items (paper, pen, and pencil geeks will love this place), stationery, used games, reading glasses, cards that contain seeds that can be planted, and much more.  Galena Book has an excellent location, nestled on Main Street alongside many other fine local businesses.  A  beautiful, well-lit, one-level store with a creaky wooden floor make this a very comfortable space.  On the day of my visit, it was made all the more enjoyable by the light jazz playing in the background.  

The big news for Galena Book & Paper is still in its future, but not very far off.  During the spring, summer, and fall months, hoards of tourists descend on this beautiful town like river mayflies to visit the shops and the history.  The sidewalks are sometimes so packed with people they can't help but fall into some of the stores.  Call me Kreskin, but this is EXACTLY what I see happening at this terrific new bookstore.  Get yourself to Galena and check it out.  Congratulations Jason.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano.  Story of a 12-year old boy who is the sole survivor of a devastating airplane crash.  His long road to recovery and the people who help him through the mental and emotional trauma of rebuilding his life.  I enjoyed this book.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Seven Kinds Of People You Find In Bookshops, Shaun Bythell. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins.  Seven Kinds Of People You Find In Bookshops, Shaun Bythell.  

A beautiful store front in a historic building.     

Partial view of the historical Main Street district. 

Lots of window display space and a wonderful source of natural light. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 
Looking to the left as you enter the store. 


Many great table displays throughout the store and this is the one immediately to the right after entering. 


Display of new releases. 

Browse over to these shelves on the right side of the store.  I love how so many of the books are displayed with the covers out. 
If you know any Hobbit fans this boxed set would make a great gift. 


There have been some times during my journey where these have saved me in some stores. 
Variety of journals and notebooks. 
Kids will enjoy checking out the games available here. 


If you're an office geek, this is your display. 

These cards can be planted. 


Galena has a rich history and it's reflected in books like these about Lincoln and Grant. 

A great place to hang out in the children's section. 

I thought the used books in the store were excellent. 


Don't buy beer, buy the book and learn how to make beer!


Looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance. 

With Jason on the left, the fine owner at Galena Book & Paper.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Soul Book Nook - Waterloo, IA

The Soul Book Nook, Waterloo IA

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How many of you would be brave enough to open a new bookstore business during a pandemic?  (crickets)  That's what I thought.  Here at The Soul Book Nook, owner Amber C. put it succinctly in one word, a word that applies to all indie owners whether they express it or not.  Faith.  When you meet Amber, there's no denying she has a faith, a strength, and a spirit to deliver a new bookstore to this community at this time.  The store is starting its 7th month in business and as Amber told me, so far they're simply maintaining.  During these unprecedented times, this is wonderful.  And there's only one way to go from here which is why there's a bright future ahead for The Soul Book Nook. 

This "baby" bookstore is already doing all those things the established ones are doing.  An active events schedule, both on zoom and safely in the store.  Local artists with displayed work throughout the store including work by Shalaya, who I met during my visit since she is also a staffer.  The store offers new and used books and the books they take in are all donated at this time.  If you can't visit in person, consider supporting this female, Black-owned bookstore by ordering online.  You'll find most genres here but the store is a definite niche for social advocacy books and African-American issues and history.   I'm happy to say that they aleady have a solid group of regulars.  Interestingly for this store, they are also getting some great business support from the Des Moines area and some of the education community there.   Additionally, many readers from all over search out this store simply to support a female, Black-owned business.  I cannot endorse this strongly enough!

Like the rest of us, Amber is marking time until the pandemic subsides and life becomes more reasonable again.  She has some great ideas including live music and offering a coffee service and snacks.  I'll look forward to watching this store grow and evolve.

 I'm aware that because of the newness of The Soul Book Nook not everyone in the community has discovered it yet.  If you're reading this, it's discovered!  In the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, you finally have an independent bookstore.  Embrace this wonderful store and visit often.  Stores like this are the envy of towns who have nothing.  And if nothing else, you'll enjoy visiting with a knowledgeable and friendly owner and staff.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.  

 JUST FINISHED:  The Midnight Library, Matt Haig.  A women's life is suspended between life and death where she visits a huge library containing books of regrets and chances to live other lives she might've had if she'd made different decisions.  This book is getting a lot of hype.  Liked it, didn't love it. 

 CURRENTLY READING:  Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Lost Buxton, Rachelle Chase.   

Store front of The Soul Book Nook.  Lots of front window display space. 
A portion of one of the front window displays. 

View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.               
Looking to the left of the front entrance.    
You'll find artwork by local artists displayed throughout the store. 

I love this table display just inside the front entrance. 

Go to the left after entering and follow the direction.  Stay safe and socially distanced. 

Follow the footprints for a guide to social distance. 

Kids will like this table display near the front of the store. 

A wonderful work by Shalaya, a local artist and staffer at The Soul Book Nook.  Make sure you ask her about her other paintings. 

Shelves located behind the check-out counter where you'll buy your books. 

Lots to pick from on this table display. 

There will soon be a coffee service up and running. 
Looking for thrillers?  This is your section.

How about science fiction?  You're covered. 

Overview of thew bookstore looking from the back toward the front entrance. 
Check out the message board toward the back of the store. 

Yes!  On the message board. 
Yes and...

A sign applicable at every bookstore, this one was created by a devoted customer. 
A perfect table display in the children's area. 

Partial view of the children's area. 

Be a part of The Soul Book Nook bookclub and pick up this book. 
With Amber, the fine owner at The Soul Book Nook.  Thanks for a great visit (Yes, we both wore masks during my visit.  No, I do not have a blue beard).