Friday, February 25, 2022

Beckham's Bookshop - New Orleans, LA

Beckham's Bookshop, New Orleans, LA

(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

There are so many amazing stories here I don't even know where to begin.  This bookstore is deserving of national renown for its longevity and its owners.  Mr. Beckham and Mr. Cook are both in their 80's and are as knowledgeable and experienced as you'll find.  They're also extremely kind and welcoming which should be no surprise.  After all, that is the true characteristic of most booksellers.  Beckham's Bookshop has been in business since 1967 and for the past 43 years in their current location on Decatur St in the French Quarter.  I'm truly amazed by indies who've enjoyed this length of operation and I always ask the owners what their secret is.  Mr. Beckham gave me a one word answer followed by a slight pause and then a hearty chuckle.  Beer!  Of course, he wasn't serious but I always say, hey, whatever it takes.

This is a true old-school bookstore and I absolutely love it.  There's no internet here, no inventory, no online book sales.  They really don't dabble in collector's editions or expensive books.  As Mr. Beckham told me they carry and sell books that people want to read, not collect.  There are no sidelines here, just books along with a few antique prints.  Two floors of all used books with just a few new ones up front.  Most of the books they take in come from customers who bring them to the store.  In exchange, the store will offer cash or store credit.  Mostly though, this is a butt-kickin', floor to ceiling books and a rolling ladder to reach them.  All packaged nicely in a historic 1800s building.  

The other thing I enjoyed about Beckham's is if you're a fan of vinyl you won't be disappointed.  Climb the stairs to the 3rd floor (after you browse all the books on the 2nd floor!) and enjoy a terrific space with its own name, No Pulp Records.  Vinyl fans will be able to spend just as much time on this floor as the book lovers will spend on the other two floors.

The French Quarter in New Orleans is a huge tourist attraction.  Do yourself a favor when you visit.  Avoid the tourist shops and step into Beckham's Books for an oasis of calm and enjoy a wonderful bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Last Slave Ship, Ben Raines.  The Clotilda was the last ship that brought enslaved people to America from Africa.  By now this was illegal and it required a lot of deception and dishonesty to do this.  But just as today there is corruption, there was corruption with immoral, unethical people in 1860 who would do anything to bring more slaves to our shores.  A true story that follows the lives of those brought to this country, their descendants, the perpetrators, and the fate of the Clotilda.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Manfried Saves The Day, Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased but gifted, Lost Enlightenment, S. Frederick Starr.  Thanks Mr. Beckham. 


One of the many historical buildings in the French Quarter. 

Maybe at one point in history these were doors but now they make the perfect display window. 

I love it!

This is all you need to know. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance, a beautiful space. 

Straight down one of the center aisles. 

The perfect place to sample a book. 

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  Enjoy browsing some older editions. 

The tall books are on a tall shelf.  Step-ladder provided. 

Prints like these are available for sale. 

Spotted on the floor near the back of the bookstore.  Clear evidence of a bookstore cat on the premises.   

The store is so packed with books it makes it difficult to get an overview.  This is the view from the back of the store looking toward the front entrance. 

You'll need this ladder for the high shelves. 

One of the few non book items available.  A collection of small prints. 

Aha!  I found you!  Keep your eyes open for Juniper when you visit this bookstore. 

Follow this stairway located in the front of the store, to the 2nd and 3rd floors. 

At the top of the stairs and looking to the left on the 2nd floor. 

An overview of the 2nd floor from the stairway going up to the 3rd floor. 

The well-organized and well-lit 3rd floor of vinyl.  This is the location of No Pulp Records. 

Looking to the left from the top of the stairs on the 3rd floor. 

They even carry 45s. 

A great customer service.  Especially good for tourists who might have limited space. 

I love this overview of the ground level from the stairway. 

With Mr. Cook on the left and Mr. Beckham in the center, the fine owners at Beckham's Bookshop.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Baldwin & Co Books & Coffee - New Orleans, LA

Baldwin & Co Books & Coffee, New Orleans, LA

(Like The Indie Bob Spot on Facebook and follow The Indie Bob Spot on Twitter)

If regular readers of this blog read my most recent post before this one, you know how remarkable that building and space are.  So, same as Pass Christian Books, Baldwin & Co has a very striking and beautiful interior.  When you visit this bookstore it will be one of the first things you notice.  Modern lighting, trim, fixtures, etc.  Most of all you'll enjoy the artistic talent of the murals displayed in the store.  The mural of James Baldwin is simply outstanding and my picture below won't do it justice.  Needless to say, the next time you're in New Orleans put this place on your list of "must-sees."  I tell you this because you probably won't see it listed on the tourist sites.  Yet.

But it should be.  An absolutely gorgeous interior with a cafe service right up front.  You can browse books displayed all along the cafe counter and then continue to the shelves through the remainder of the store.  The James Baldwin theme starts on the menu with drinks named after James Baldwin titles.  And of course, you can find any of his books among the very well curated inventory of all new books.  Lots of relevant titles for our times and numerous works by Black authors.  You'll also find recent releases and best-sellers on the shelves.  They offer an excellent assortment of store swag but other than that there are few sidelines.  If you happen to be one of the regular customers, make sure you take advantage of a store punch card to reward your purchases.  As Amelia, one of the staffers told me, the cafe is huge for the store's business.

One of the most unique things I found here was the James Baldwin podcast studio.  A beautiful room encased in glass with everything needed for someone to do their own podcast.  The store rents this studio out to anyone who wants to do a podcast.  So if your hurdle is just figuring out how to get started, this bookstore has your solution.  What an excellent idea and opportunity.

Happy birthday to James Baldwin & Co who celebrates its one-year anniversary this month.  I didn't get to meet DJ, the owner, on this visit but Amelia VERY patiently and kindly couldn't have been nicer to talk to while waiting on a continual line of cafe customers.  What a wonderful addition this is to the terrific New Orleans bookstore scene.  Congratulations DJ.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, Elle Cosimano.  Finlay Donovan is a struggling writer who meets her agent at a Panera to talk about finishing her book and she can't decide how to kill off a character.  The conversation is overheard by a woman at another table and thinks Finlay is a real life killer for hire.  The woman slips her a note and insists on Finlay killing her terrible husband.  Let the mystery adventure begin.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Last Slave Ship, Ben Raines. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin.  


Another angle of the beautiful Baldwin & Co building. 

To the right of the building you'll find a large outdoor courtyard seating area. 


View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  I love the tiling and the trim. 


Just inside you'll see books displayed on the cafe counter. 


Since the front of the store doesn't have room for table displays, they take advantage of cafe counter space for book displays. 


You'll find some cafe seating on the right side of the store space, directly opposite the cafe counter. 


I love how the store uses this counter space for books. 


Partial view of some of the store swag. 


One of the store monitors displays changing screens of recommended books in different genres. 


A few of the greeting cards available. 


Beautiful artistry and important message. 


This is the portrait of James Baldwin that really drew my attention to this bookstore. 


Expanded picture and the one most often associated with this store.  I was amazed to see how the artist did this portrait.  When you see it in person and stand right in front of it, you'll notice that it is painted over the spines of many books.  Remarkable. 


Grab a book, a latte, and a comfy seat. 


The back of the bookstore with additional seating on the right and partial view of the store's podcast studio on the left.  

View looking into the podcast studio. 
You can rent this studio for your own podcast. 
A beautiful Christmas tree of books. 
View of the outdoor seating area from inside the store. 
The store holds frequent events. 
For James Baldwin fans, this store is a must. 
Overview looking from the middle of the store toward the front entrance 
The woodwork, trim, flooring, and decor are outstanding. 
Available and recommended. 
Check out the specialty drinks.  Pair a James Baldwin book with the drink. 
Good luck finding these on Amazon.