Archive for the ‘Spotlight on Bookstores’ Category

In an interview on the Voice website, Kathleen McCleary indicates that Coffee@home, Ellen Flanagan’s coffee-and-home-funishings shop in the novel House & Home, is based on a local independent coffee shop in Virginia.  I wondered if “Hole in the Wall Books”, a setting in the novel,  had roots in a real bookstore.  Kathleen offered to write a guest post for She Is Too Fond of Books, sharing how real-life observations and her creative imagination combined to form this inviting bookstore (that I’d love to visit, if only it existed outside the novel!).  Read what she has to say about creating this fictional shop:

Several readers have mentioned that one of their favorite scenes in my novel is the scene that takes place in a little independent bookstore in Manning, Oregon, somewhere between Portland and Cannon Beach. While many of the places mentioned in the book are real (the Lazy Susan Restaurant, Paley’s Place, etc.), Hole in the Wall Books is completely a figment of my imagination. But as a lifelong bookstore aficionado, I used many bits and pieces of real bookstores in creating it.

I got the name “Hole in the Wall Books” from a used bookstore right here in Falls Church. I’ve never actually been inside Hole in the Wall, but I love the name. The exterior of the bookstore in my novel looks exactly like an antique store I used to visit in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York. The interior of the store, with comfy chairs for reading and little nooks of books, was taken from my memories of Annie Bloom’s, a lovely independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, where I used to live. My kids and I used to spend hours in Annie Bloom’s sitting on the floor and looking at books.

Another inspiration was Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison Avenue in New York City, from which I took the old wooden floors, mix of new and used books, and friendly, knowledgeable sales people. Dottie, the bookseller in my novel, is based on my aunt, Dorothy McCleary, who has worked at Crawford Doyle for many years. (I gave Dottie some peculiarly northwest touches, though, like the nickname “Dottie” and wearing clogs!)

The idea of grouping books by place was entirely my own. As someone who has always been profoundly influenced by place – be it my house, the view out my window, my town, or my state – I loved the idea of categorizing authors by geography. The work of many writers is absolutely inseparable from the places those writers loved, in my mind. There are many authors who are so profoundly tied to places that I can’t think of them without their settings: Willa Cather (Nebraska), Isak Dinesen (Africa), James Joyce (Ireland), Mark Twain (Mississippi) – you could go on for forever. More recently, Stephanie Meyer and Washington’s Olympic peninsula seem forever intertwined now that I’ve read Twilight.

I’d love to hear about your favorite bookstores. And, I’d love to hear about the authors you associate strongly with particular places. Maybe they’ll provide fodder for my next novel!

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This week’s “Spotlight on Bookstores” guest post is written by Lisa Roe.  Lisa is an online book publicist, “connecting books with the online world.”  Read on for Lisa’s introduction to Castle Arkdale and Happy Tales Bookshop, owned by Lloyd and Leonore Dickmann.  The video is a must-see to get a complete picture of this bookshop and its proprietors.

I’ve never been to the largest bookstore in the country, but it’s in my home state.  And I have the directions to it.  County Road K.  Middle of Nowhere.  Central Wisconsin.  Riiiiight.  Try and put a pin in a map with that.

It’s no secret that Wisconsin is my most favoritest place on Earth.  (Yes.  I get so excited that proper grammar goes out that window!)  I’ve moved away several times and several times returned.  I love State Fair with its deep fried anything on a stick:  s’mores, cheesecake, Snickers, and pickles.  During the summer, Milwaukee hosts a different ethnic festival every weekend.  The Green Bay Packers lead our thoughts and conversations, while peppering our wardrobes with green and gold.  World-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s first completed work in the United States is right here on our lakefront.  And as I write this, the rumble of hundreds of Harleys are rattling the windows, as we are smack dab in the middle of the 105th Harley Davidson celebration.  What’s not to love?

But that’s all city stuff.  Wisconsin is the 26th largest state in our Union, so there are a lot more amber waves of grain to be had out there.  And somewhere among those rolling hills lies the newest object of my Wisconsin love and affection:  Castle Arkdale.

If you watch this video and don’t get choked up, feel warm and fuzzy, want to adopt these folks, or chart your road trip to ‘somewhere Wisconsin’ right now, well then, I’m sorry to tell you my friend, you’re in a coma!


So…who’s comin’ with me?!

Castle Arkdale, W1778 County Road K, Markesan.  For more: 920-398-3375.  Open by chance or appointment. 

Many thanks to Bibliohistoria for the video link!

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The following Spotlight on Bookstores post is written by Lori at Lori’s Reading Corner.  Lori is a prolific reader, who reviews about 3-4 books a week on her blog, which also features book giveaways, weekly memes and reading challenge updates.  She is a LibraryThing Early Reviewer, a chapter leader for PaperBackSwap, and a member of Book Blogs.

The New England Mobile Book Fair is where all good bibliophiles want to go when they die! 

The first time I walked in there I was beyond overwhelmed.  Located on the Needham/Newton line, the NEMBF is a GIGANTIC warehouse filled with – what else but BOOKS.  It’s impossible to walk in there and not come out with at least one book.  But most likely you’ll end up with a lot more than that.  Be prepared to set aside a good chunk of time when you plan to visit.  This is not the type of place to just “run in and pick up a book.”  Grab a basket and start roaming.

The warehouse is divided into three sections ~ Hardcovers, Paperbacks and Discount.  

The hardcover section is amazing.  You can find anything your heart desires.  They carry everything from brand new releases to travel to cookbook to kids books.  The shelves are loaded with just about any author you can hope to find.  The new releases are proudly displayed towards the front of the store.  While there are some loaded onto the shelves – the uniqueness of the book fair is that they’re also placed in boxes along the floor.  Each one loaded with those books you’re dying to get your hands on.

The discount room is fantastic for those looking for that extra bargain.  Thousands of titles line the walls.  The discount section is really the gem of the store just because there are a million cheap books in there that you never knew you needed but you cannot live without.  The set-up in here is a little looser than the other rooms, so you’ll need to have the time and patience to walk up and down row after row, looking for that perfect book.  But trust me, the hunting is well worth it!

Now on to my most favorite room – – the paperback room.  It’s a bibliophile’s dream come true.  Rows upon rows, boxes upon boxes of books.  Lining the walls, the floors, in racks and in every nook and cranny you can find.  You’ll find the newer paperback releases right at the entrance to this gold mine, making it easier if you’re looking for something that just came out.  It’s a great place to stock up on those authors you’ve been dying to try – or to find that book or two in a series you just don’t have yet.

One of the best things about the place is that all books at NEMBF are discounted.  All NY Times Bestsellers are 30% off the hardcover price.  All other hardcovers and paperbacks are 20% off — EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!  They even have their own buyer loyalty program.  For every $30 that you spend at the book fair, you receive a stamp.  Once you receive 12 stamps you receive a complimentary $20 gift certificate to use to shop at your hearts content!  They do accept all major credit cards, checks and of course, cash!

The book fair is about 2 miles off of Route 128, not far from the junction of Route 9.  While its physical location is not ideal (trying to turn left back out on Highland Ave is little like taking your life into your own hands and good luck finding parking on the weekend) these small hassles are well worth it.  Also, if you’re looking for the “homey” feel of a Barnes & Noble or other chain store, you won’t find that here.  There is no area to sit and check out a book, the floors are concrete and the rows narrow.  The goal of the NEMBF is not to have you sit, relax and read – but to buy, buy, buy!

My only real issue with the NEMBF (and something I didn’t realize the first time I went) is that everything is arranged by publisher, and then alphabetical by title.  Without knowing the publisher it’s sort of like finding a needle in a hay stack.  There are a few computers scattered around for you to look up the information on, and there is always a staff member near by to help.  What I have learned is to find the publishers of the books I like to read most (Berkley Crime – row 10A) and continue to visit those specific aisles.  Also, if there are books I’m just dying to get, I’ll spend some time on Amazon looking up the publishers and making myself a list.  It will save some time mindlessly wandering from row to row.  Unless of course time is not an issue J INSERT SMILEY

One of my favorite things about the NEMBF is introducing some new friends to it.  As the chapter leader for the MA group on PBS (www.paperbackswap.com) I am responsible for organizing our group get-togethers.  We have had several meetings now where we meet for lunch, chit chat, do a book swap and then head over for the real fun – shopping for books!!  I don’t think that anyone’s walked away from our meetings unhappy (or at least not that I know of).

If you’ve got an afternoon to kill or a rain/snow day where you just don’t want to stay home – take a ride over to the NEMBF and spend some time book shopping.  I can guarantee you, you won’t be disappointed.

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This series of posts was inspired by Lisa at Books on the Brain; she has submitted the first guest post (of sorts!).  It’s a bit of a mystery, and we’re looking for input from anyone who can help us fill in some blanks!

Lisa says, “I took a picture of a cute bookstore on Catalina Island last weekend where I picked up The Bee Season for 50 cents.”  Lisa didn’t spend much time in the bookstore, so she wasn’t able to share any more information, but we both agreed that this cute (and overflowing!) shop should be spotlighted … If I ever get to Catalina Island, I know I’ll want to stop in!

I gave it my best Nancy Drew and tried to find more information about R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller.  According an article in the January 7, 2007 issue of Los Angeles Times Magazine,

Ron Franklin Pyke came to Avalon as a teenage runaway in the ’60s, only to be shuttled home in a helicopter. In the ’80s, he opened R.Franklin Pyke Bookseller, which stocks antique books, maps and prints. Among them: a 1937 print by Wrigley’s gum wrapper artist Otis Shepard, and an Isthmus map made during an 1852 geodetic survey. 228 Metropole Ave., (310) 510-2588

An article on bnet gives a little more information about the building and its wares: “Along Metropole Avenue (3) between Beacon and the bay are an 1889 church, R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller (228 ) in a 1920s cottage (selling vintage travel and children’s books, Catalina memorabilia).”

So, how about it?  Have any of you visited R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller and have an anecdote (about the shop or its proprietor) to share?!

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The first bookstore I’ll highlight in this series is the Concord Bookshop, right on Main Street in Concord Center.  You have to picture what a Main Street would look like in a Norman Rockwell painting, modernize it just a tad, and you’ve got present-day Concord Center.  Truly, drivers stop for pedestrians not only when they’re in the crosswalk, but also when they’re on the sidewalk near the crosswalk! 

We can walk to the center from home, about a mile; often I have a parade of bikes and strollers with me, but we get there despite the circus!  If you’re driving, there are meters on the street, and a few municipal lots as well.  Unfortunately, public transportation is scarce, unless you consider the blue trolley that runs seasonally and stops at many historic sites around Lexington and Concord.

We have a routine of places to visit when we’re downtown; one of our favorite stops is the Concord Bookshop.  They have three huge plate glass windows in front, with eye-catching displays.  The windows are updated weekly, with themed windows, newly-published books, local interest, etc.  In nice weather, the sidewalk in front holds several wheeled carts with overstocks and remainders to lure you in.  You’ll find bookcases and tables in front, a large periodical section (have you noticed fewer and fewer outlets for periodicals these days?  I’m talking about more niche titles, that you can’t find in the check-out line at the grocery store!), and gift items such as journals, greeting cards and calendars. 

The center of the store has a small open area with some comfy chairs scattered about.  This is where they hold author events – usually on Sunday afternoons.  The current schedule is posted on their website.  I’ve been to readings of The Air We Breathe with author Andrea Barrett, The Rope Walk with Carrie Brown and What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by local author Gregory Maguire … and I just learned he’ll be appearing again in December with his latest, A Lion Among Men.

The store has a wonderful children’s section toward the back; the booksellers here are as helpful and friendly as elsewhere in the store, able to put the fingers right on the book that I described as “the cat that is mistaken for a hat and travels the world” (The Three-Legged Cat by Margaret Mahy).  The area is bright and accessible, with many outward-facing low shelves, so kids can see the covers!  A back entrance leads from the municipal lot directly into the children’s section; this, coupled with a second register station makes it very convenient when I’m trying to keep the kids tethered to “their” section of the store. 

The Concord Bookshop offers free gift wrap (our local toy shop does too, isn’t this a great time and money saver?!?  The packages always look nicer when someone else wraps them!).  They have a nice customer loyalty program too, with a local twist, of course.  For every $25 spent, you get a Book Buck, which can be used toward a future purchase.  Check out the pictures on the Buck – that’s a book, Henry David Thoreau, and a Minuteman who has put down his musket to read!

Like everything else in this town, the bookstore has its own history – it was founded in 1940 as a bookstore and lending library!  There is a large section dedicated to local history and local authors, both classic and contemporary.  The Concord Bookshop is now owned by three families and employs other booksellers and seasonal help (would I like a part-time job when all the kids are in school?  Yes!)

One thing the bookshop doesn’t offer is any type of book discussion group.  I was disappointed and couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t have book groups, it seems they could hold them in the same spot that readings take place.  It occurred to me as I was finishing up this post – the sidewalks roll up and everything in the center closes at 6!

This isn’t a bookstore/café, but there are plenty of places to grab a cup of coffee and muffin (or more!) right on the block.  Main Streets Markets, Sally Ann Bake Shop and Helen’s to name a few (just get there before those sidewalks roll up!).  And ice cream, well, that’s another post in and of itself!  If you’re heading this way, let me know and I’ll give you the scoop (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) on ice cream in our town.  Just make sure you finish it before you head into the Bookshop!

Have any of you been to our town and visited the Concord Bookshop?  A month or so ago the Boston Bibliophile mentioned it in a post about a Sunday afternoon outing; she seconds my comments about the helpful and knowledgeable staff (and the antique shops in town, there’s another draw for you!)

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