Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Prologue Books & Wine - Charles City, IA

Prologue Books & Wine, Charles City, IA

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When I prepare to visit a bookstore I try to keep my expectations neutral and my mind open to anything.  However, when I visit an indie in a small town I worry about the store's business health and if it has a large enough customer base to support it.  If I had any of those thoughts before visiting Prologue Books & Wine in Charles City, IA, they were immediately dashed when I entered the store's beautiful space.  This store is worthy of any location in the country.  A neighborhood in St. Louis, a borough in NYC, or a hip section of the California Bay area.  For the people in Charles City and the surrounding communities, all they have to do is go to Main St. and walk into a store that completes the Charles City business community, finally, an independent bookstore.  

Darci T., the owner, and her team have done an absolutely remarkable job of turning a space that sat empty for 10 years (as Darci told me, it was a dump which makes the transformation that much more impressive) into an attractive bookstore that will become the envy of many similar small towns.  The store has only been open 4 short months and the results are outstanding.  In fact, Darci told me that the store's business has exceeded expectations.  Way to go Charles City and congratulations Darci!

Prologue offers all new books along with some sidelines including greeting cards, buttons, candy club candy, and bookstore swag to name a few.  Darci's original plan for the wine was to offer it while doing events or readings.  Surprisingly, people are enjoying the wine while book browsing.  She also thought that children's books would sell well but instead has discovered that adult books and poetry are doing even better than the children's books.  

The cherry on top of this wonderful store though is the vitality of its owner.  Darci gives this store its personality and its easy to see why it already has a devoted core of regulars.  She's knowledgeable, conversant, and will easily be able to recommend your next book.  In fact, if you're in the Charles City area consider joining the store book club which will be starting soon.

I can't believe there are people in the community who don't know about Prologue Books & Wine yet.  Really?  A highly visible, beautiful storefront on Main St. and you don't know about it?  Consider this your wake-up call.  Find out what all the regular customers have discovered.  A terrific bookstore with an energetic owner that will turn YOU into a regular too.  An experience you won't find online.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  A Column Of Fire, Ken Follett. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Beheld, Tarashea Nesbit.  


Beautiful storefront located in the heart of downtown. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Just imagine what this space must've looked like, sitting empty for about 10 years until Darci and her team transformed it into this gorgeous interior. 


Four steps into the store and you'll see this educational display of books. 


A very unique way to display the buttons available. 


Interested in cooking?  Find this display. 


Entering the store and curling around to the left for this view of the children's section.  Notice the small reading nook underneath the steps.  Nice!


Another view of the children's reading nook and some nice places to sit. 


This chair is in a primo location right by the large front window.  Have a seat, sip some wine, and keep an eye on things. 


Another overview of the children's section and beyond. 


This picture really doesn't give the perspective that you see when you view it in person.  This doorway is for tiny people to come into the children's section.  It is in the entryway of the main entrance.  Kids can bypass the door for big people and walk right into their area. 


Hitchers with twister pop for the kids.  You might have to get one just to see what it is. 


A nice long wall of books on the left side of the store. 


A portion of the poetry available.  This genre has been selling very well. 


The store is well-stocked with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  The readers who enjoy this are fanatical about it.  My Outlander friends will remind you to be sure and start with the first book in the series. 


On top of the bookshelves you'll see framed poster-sized prologues from different books.  Can you identify this one?


This is one beautiful setting.  Comfy chairs, wine, a book, AND a fireplace?  Yes please. 


Since certain people have recently gone into a hissy fit about banned books, do you know what I've noticed?  Every indie offers banned books and usually a dedicated section to display them. 


New to the store.  Give them a try and tell Darci what you think. 


As with just about any other indie, creativity can be found throughout the store. 


Find your bookstore swag and some of the other sidelines in this section. 


I love that this store has so many comfortable places to sit.  Is it because of the wine or the books?!


Only a sample of the wine inventory. 


Bring your friends, have a seat here and share your books. 



Relevant books for our times.      
Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front. 


Attractive Prologue glasses ONLY available here. 
With Darci, the fine owner at Prologue Books & Wine.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Hello Again Books - Cocoa, FL

Hello Again Books, Cocoa, FL

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If ever there was an example of the power of BINC (The Book Industry Charitable Foundation), this store is it.  When co-owner MerryBeth saw me enter the store with my BINC shirt on, she launched into an enthusiastic 15 minute monologue singing the praises of this fantastic organization.  And she had every reason to do so considering BINC was one of the reasons for their bookstore survival.  Hello Again Books opened in March 2020 and within a month or two, Covid was knocking on the door forcing a shutdown.  Thanks to BINC, bookshop.org (an online book sale site for independent bookstores), and many devoted customers, Hello Again Books survived their challenges and forged ahead into a promising future.  If you're an indie owner or bookseller, know that BINC is a GREAT safety net available to you or the store when you experience serious life circumstances.  Best of all, they're staffed by compassionate people who want to help.

Hello Again Books is a proudly LGBTQ, women-owned bookstore located in the very busy Cocoa Village, a popular retail area and excellent location.  As you open the door you'll hear the chiming of the Harry Potter theme, a very nice touch.  When I asked Karen, a bookseller, how they do when it isn't tourist season, she laughed and said its ALWAYS tourist season.  The store offers mostly used books with some new and a nice variety of women and literary-themed sidelines.  They take care to sanitize all used books that come in and are very particular about what they take.  Additionally, they enter all of these books into their inventory so they know exactly what's on the shelves.  But this store is about much more than the books.  Co-owners MerryBeth and Amy strongly advocate for the disenfranchised among us, especially young people who need to find a place, or a book, that supports their lifestyle or ethnicity.  There are great places in the store to relax, read a book, watch a movie, or play a video game.  I would define it as a Third Place, and the owners make it a point to communicate that ALL are welcome here.  Well done MerryBeth, Amy, and Karen.

If you're a tourist to Cocoa, FL this is a MUST visit.  Afterall, don't you need a beach read?  A fabulous, welcoming and knowledgeable staff is always the perfect experience at any independent bookstore and that's EXACTLY what you'll get at Hello Again Books.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse.  Serious readers of Sherlock Holmes probably won't enjoy this but casual Sherlock Holmes fans might like it.  Mycroft Holmes is Sherlock's older brother.  The story is very Sherlock Holmes-ian to me and involves astute powers of observation by Mycroft and his very tall sidekick, Cyrus Douglas (Kareem, maybe?).  They venture to Douglas's home island of Trinidad and find children who've been killed and try to find the reason for an illegal slave trade. 

CURRENTLY READING:  A Column of Fire, Ken Follett. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Two Hello Again Books bookstore coffee mugs.  Not purchased but gifted:  Leave The World Behind, Rumaan Alam.  The New Republic, Lionel Shriver.  Thanks MerryBeth. 

Shouldn't every community have a Bookfest?

Beautiful storefront. 

If your dog is thirsty, they offer complimentary water. 

ALL are welcome, similar to almost every independent bookstore. 

Wow!  Great bargains outside the store. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance. 

View looking to the right from the front entrance. 

Consider giving them a follow. 

View looking to the left from the front entrance. 

If you travel and enjoy bookstores, consider getting this book that lists many of the indies across the country. 

The book discussion table display. 

Beautiful display of sidelines.  They do a super job here of keeping all their prices reasonable. 

I enjoyed the store's creative decor. 

The store has many table displays throughout. 

I love that they have many places to just sit and sample a book. 

I've seen the book-themed candles in many stores and there's a reason for that.  They sell well. 

Partial view of the non-fiction section. 

I had to keep reminding myself that the store is mostly used books but it sure didn't feel like it.  Everything neatly organized and very clean. 

You'll find sidelines displayed throughout the store. 

Consider buying one of these book tote bags to carry everything you'll buy. 

A super little corner of the store with a large screen TV.  A comfy place to watch a movie or do some gaming. 

Anything that advertises rare finds deserves attention. 

Looking into the children's room through the very cool book archway. 

Partial view of the children's room. 

I love the floor decor.  Just like your kids' bedroom, right?

A nice platform for a speaker or a reader. 

In the children's room. 

If you go to the back of the store, find this section for some good buys. 

From the children's room, looking through the bookarch to the front of the store. 

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

With Karen on the left and MerryBeth in the middle, two of the fine people you'll meet at Hello Again Books.  Thanks for a great visit.