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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Delightful Book Cellar

Between the Covers
152 E. Main Street
Harbor Springs, MI 49740

Question: When is a basement more than just a basement? Answer: When it's a book cellar. And when a visit to this particular book "cellar" provides the end to a lovely day along the northern Lake Michigan shoreline, so much the better. I had just enjoyed a stop at McLean & Eakin in Petoskey (see previous post) and decided that my trip would not be complete without a visit to nearby Harbor Springs. As I made my way around Little Traverse Bay and entered the scrupulously tidy lakefront town, I was immediately taken by the well-kept, stately old houses and the overall well-groomed look of the place. I got the distinct impression that Harbor Springs has never known an untrimmed hedge or unkempt lawn. Here perfectly painted homes are graced by meticulously cared-for gardens, and equally tidy business places rest along spotless sidewalks. It was here in beautiful Harbor Springs that I encountered a small, but charming bookstore, Between the Covers.

It's easy to miss the recessed front door topped with an arched window and accented with only a small store sign and an understated banner declaring the shop "open." I drove by twice and missed it both times. It was only after I had parked my car to traverse the sidewalks of Harbor Springs on foot that I finally noticed it tucked in behind the brightly colored facade of a toy store that occupies the street level above Between the Covers, a store well worth finding.

If you're like me, the word "basement" brings to mind dank, dark, and gloomy images, but I immediately set aside such images upon reaching the bottom of the stairs where I was warmly greeted by Tom Donahoo who was manning the desk. The owner was out of the shop at the time, but Tom was happy to share some information about the store. He has been a visitor to the Harbor Springs area since 1980 and was a frequent patron of the store which has been in business for over 30 years. After Tom moved permanently to Harbor Springs about five years ago, he finally decided to ask if Between the Covers needed any help and has been working for the shop ever since.

Tom related that Katie Capaldi, the brand new owner, just since March, has worked in bookstores all over the country. An obvious lover of books and bookstores, she even has a connection to McLean & Eakin on the other side of the bay having worked there when she was just 12.

Were it not for the exposed old stone walls and limited windows, it would be hard to tell that Between the Covers actually occupies a basement. The place is awash with light, and the walls and ceiling are painted in white and light cheery colors. Far from dank, the old stone basement walls provide interesting architectural accents while a small fireplace warms one corner. At the back of the shop, the walkout basement opens to a lovely patio where Tom says book signings are held when the weather is nice.

The store has several plans in the works, starting up a book club for instance, as well as working with the library to form some clubs. Apparently, the reading tastes in Harbor Springs are totally different from the interests of readers across the bay in Petoskey. According to Tom, the previous owner had a genius for knowing what Harbor Springs readers prefer, contributing to the store's many years of success.

The shop actually began business upstairs, moving to the basement level 12 years ago. A large portion of the store is dedicated to young adult and children's books, a nice complement to the toy store upstairs. But there are plenty of classics and popular adult titles as well. As I chatted with Tom, I noticed the brand new offering from Jeannette Walls prominently displayed on the counter. Since I thoroughly enjoyed her memoir, The Glass Castle, I didn't have to think too long about purchasing this latest title, The Silver Star.

Ultimately, Between the Covers would love to have a street level presence again. But for now, I think the basement that doesn't feel like a basement suits it just fine. I hope one day to return when Katie is in the store so I can wish her well as the new owner and tell her in person how much I enjoyed my visit to the small, but delightful, Between the Covers.

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