About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do you recognize this bookstore?

Look familiar?



How about this?



While I imagine many of you have no idea, there are no doubt some careful observers who have guessed that these photos were taken in the book department of my local Meijer store. Now I can just hear some of you thinking, "What gives?" I know, I know. This isn't the kind of establishment I usually blog about; this, you probably think, isn't a real bookstore. But those afflicted with a particularly acute case of book lust will appreciate purveyors of print wherever they find them. For instance, my friend and fellow bookstore enthusiast, Tim, (See All Aboard!) swears by Goodwill as an excellent place to shop for books. So recently when I was shopping at this newly renovated store, I was taken aback when I noticed the new and improved book department, a far cry from the end cap of best sellers and single aisle of paperbacks and magazines that I was accustomed to seeing in Meijer. By my estimation, 800 square feet or so is devoted to this new book area. Its bright, long aisles of books, magazines, audio books, and even book-related materials like reading glasses and book marks are neatly laid out inviting me to browse. So, why not Meijer?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reflections

This year in West Michigan, winter arrived late for its appointed rounds. Miraculously, gloriously, wonderfully late. My apologies to the many skiers and snowmobilers. But the opportunity to go for a sunny walk in mid January on dry pavement with temperatures in the 50's is to me something to be savored, not lamented. Nonetheless, winter has finally arrived bringing with it the usual slippery roads and school closings. With my traveling thus limited, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the first six months of my blogging experience.

Aside from the fact that I have completely and utterly delighted in the hunt for bookshops and relished each visit, a couple of things stand out in my mind. First is the discovery that there are likely many other individuals such as myself with an acute case of book lust, to borrow a term from Nancy Pearl. I arrived at this conclusion based on the large number of bookstores that I have thus far found to be not just alive and well, but thriving. With the seeming ascendancy of the ebook trade, this overall health of bookstores is the exact opposite of what I had expected to find. I can only conclude that book lust is more widespread than I had thought, perhaps even epidemic. There is after all, nothing quite like the look, feel, and smell of a real book.

I have made another observation, this one not so surprising.  Every bookstore is unique in its own way with peculiar qualities of its own that make it special. It may be the smallest, or the largest, or the one with the fabulous kids section. It may be located in a strikingly gorgeous setting. It may inhabit a historic building or an unexpected structure like a log cabin or a train car. It may stand boldly in close proximity to a large chain bookstore or in a converted house in a remote tourist town. It may have the best cafe, the most interesting author visits, or a great book club. It may be hosted by bookstore cats or bookstore dogs. But generally the most unique and gratifying thing I have found about bookstores is their owners, people with truly incurable book lust who attract others like myself with their gregarious nature and their passion for the printed word. Whenever I have had the opportunity to meet these shop owners, it has proven to be the best part of the adventure.

So keep doing what you do, bookstore owners. I look forward to many more delightful discoveries. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Share

Type Books
883 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario
http://typebooks.ca/

Somewhat out of my usual format, this is a posting about a bookstore I definitely hope to visit in the future purely on the strength of this youtube ad video. It is spectacular.

Thanks to Bay Leaf Books for sharing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Never An Off Season

Black River Books
330 Kalamazoo St.
South Haven, MI 49090
269-637-7374
http://www.blackriverbooks.net/

Sunny, golden beaches, summer cottages and resorts with windows thrown open to catch the breezes off the lake, gift shops, galleries, boutiques, bustling marinas, and plenty of ice cream stands and eateries with cute names--and of course people--lots and lots of people, tourists to be specific--such is summer at any one of the numerous tourist towns that grace the lake shores of Michigan. They don't call us the "Water Wonderland" for nothing. But what becomes of these quaint villages in the off season when the lakes freeze, the cottages are boarded up for the winter, the boats are all in storage, and "Closed for the Season" signs seem more common than tourists? I recently had an opportunity to find out on a brief road trip with Sue, my sister and frequent co-pilot on these excursions. We had occasion to stop in the small Lake Michigan coastal town of South Haven in mid December when boats and sun bathers were replaced with Christmas decorations and ice skaters. The vacationers were long gone, but the soul of the town we found to be very much alive and well, the tourism hustle and bustle replaced by simple, friendly peacefulness. As a matter of fact, once I set foot inside the main subject of our visit, Black River Books, it didn't feel like an off season at all. I was at once captivated by the warmth of this year-round establishment and the gregarious nature of its owners, not to mention the delightful bookstore dogs. That's right, dogs.