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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Leap Day, Part II

1180 S. Washington
Holland, MI 49423

Word on the street is that print books are making a comeback. That's right. The e-book craze has recently leveled off while print book sales are on the rise. Worry not, bookstore enthusiasts. Don't let the decline of chains like Borders put fear in your heart. Bookstores, once thought to be headed the way of the dinosaur, now seem to be alive and well.

When I first started this blog nearly five years ago, I feared that the life of the project would be limited, that I'd better get started right away before all the bookstores were gone. Though big chain stores have seen their share of adversity, happily small independents are not merely still in existence, but thriving. Personal observation suggests to me that their resilience is due in large part to a high level of customer service coupled with a special brand of creativity reserved for owners of small bookshops. Many inhabit interesting places (an old train car, an old factory, a bank) while others have found a particular niche to fill. Some of the most memorable bookstores I have visited, for example, have been geared specifically toward children (Wild Rumpus, Storybook Village). This past Leap Day I had the pleasure of visiting a small and very specialized bookstore. Bookmart in Holland, Michigan, sells nothing but used paperbacks.

Gail working at the front desk
In my last post I mentioned that I had visited not just one, but two bookstores in the Holland area. Let us now return to that Leap Day fun with a look at Bookmart, a family-owned store for over 40 years. Current owner, Sarajane Van Putten, was unfortunately not in the shop on the day of my visit. Her friend, Gail, who lives in the nearby town of Saugatuck, was happy to help me. For the past six years, Gail has been tending the shop whenever Sarajane is absent.

Inhabiting a small space in a strip mall on the edge of Holland, Bookmart is literally brimming with used paperbacks. The shelves are packed full with books spilling out onto the floor. Gail says most of their inventory comes from a wide variety of customers who bring them in for trade. Oftentimes the store has niche titles or authors that are hard to find somewhere else.

If you're looking for bargain book buys, Bookmart is the place for you. The prices are very reasonable. One display held titles for only 10 cents. That's right, 10 cents. And there are full bags of books for just 3 dollars. Bookmart is the perfect place for out-of-towners to come for beach-reading bargains to enjoy on Holland's lovely sandy shore. No need to stuff your luggage with vacation reading when you can get previously-loved paperbacks at these discount prices.

One thing Bookmart doesn't have is a computer. The store is a cash-only business. So leave your credit card at home. And if you plan to visit, be sure to call first as their hours are limited. The first time I tried to visit the store, I was out of luck. I was passing through Holland on a Wednesday, and the store is closed on Wednesdays. The second time I tried to visit, I was too early. The store doesn't open until noon. But as the saying goes, third time is the charm, and thankfully I met with success on my third attempt.

Sorry I missed Sarajane, so perhaps a return trip is in order one of these days. But I very much enjoyed meeting and chatting with Gail, and I walked out with a full sack of titles for around $20. Can't beat that.  

One extra day, two bookstore visits. Priceless.

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