Sister Wolf Books in Dorset and Beagle Books & Bindery in Park Rapids have officially combined to form Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery! After 20 wonderful years in Dorset, change was coming for the owners, Sally Wizik Wills & Bob Wills, and for both stores. With Bob retiring in May of 2015, the family decided to combine the stores in the Park Rapids location. The physical move was made in the fall of 2014, with lots of behind the scenes work over the winter. All programming from both stores will continue in the Park Rapids location. The grand re-opening of Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery will be celebrated Memorial Day week-end, 2015. More information and our new logo are available at our new website:www.beagleandwolf.com
Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl of Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis took it upon themselves to create a Twin Cities Bookstore Map in advance of Independent Bookstore Day on May 2, 2015. But the idea for the map started long before IBD. As Jamie says, "People are always coming in looking for a certain kind of book that we might not have enough of, and other stores in town specialize in. Angela got really sick of drawing maps for people so they could get to other bookstores. So, she thought, we should just make a map with all the bookstores on it that we can just give to people." When booksellers started talking about IBD, though, they got the inspiration--and the deadline--they needed. "We realized we had a deadline, and thought maybe people could use the map for various IBD tours, bike-rides, scavenger hunts, etc."
Jamie illustrated the map, but as Moon Palace could print the map themselves, they turned to local businesses (publishers, in particular) to help cover the printing costs. "We didn't want to pay for it ourselves, so we sold ads to local publishers to go on the back, and got Tom from Uncivilized books to help us with layout and print prep." Publishers jumped at the opportunity to have their name attached to such a useful tool to be shared throughout the bookloving community in the Twin Cities.
While not all stores are located in communities with such widespread support for bookselling, the map is an idea that can be tweaked slightly and emulated everywhere--consider creating a map of local and indpendent businesses, or a map of literary landmarks in your area, or of any culturally significant sites such as libraries, theaters, venues and museums. Moon Palace cut costs by illustrating the map on their own, but even as an accomplished illustrator, Jamie would prefer to outsource that part of the work as well. "Next year, we'd love to have a more famous local artist do it, and do a series of signed silkscreen prints of it that are for sale on IBD, plus focus more on pedestrian and bike routes on the map, and maybe other local geographic or cultural items."
Lots of great ideas coming as a result of Independent Bookstore Day, which is, after all, a celebration of great ideas.
March 11 – Omaha, NE
MIBA’s first spring meeting of 2015 took place in Omaha, NE. Our hosts were the wonderful staff and owners of The Bookworm, who recently moved to a new, larger location. ABA led us through a thoughtful and informative session, Exploring New Markets. Oren Teicher and Joy Dellanegra Sanger each presented on a wide number of industry trends and ideas that the ABA has gathered from booksellers across the country. Ranging from changes in the national demographic to how best to increase your current customers’ commitment to your store, this session was expertly delivered and will prove useful to all who attended:
During our open forum over lunch, the attending booksellers (which came from states as varied as Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas) asked questions of ABA and MIBA. Carrie provided a quick overview of National Bookstore Day, and Oren assured booksellers who use the Indiebound Webstore platform that the transition to Drupal 7 was well underway. “If you leave here with only one piece of information,” Teicher implored, “it would be to contact your POS providers and make sure you’ll be compliant with the new credit card chip requirements before it goes into affect in October.” If not taken care of prior to the deadline, this issue could result in fines, or worse—loss of sales due to your software’s inability to process credit card purchases.
Carrie and Robert spoke quickly about MIBA’s upcoming programming, touching on the Heartland Fall Forum, MIBA’s Winter Catalog, and Midwest Connections. We showed a rough draft of our Catalog Testimonials video (still working on it—stay tuned!) and reminded folks to take advantage of the new “saturation mailing” method of catalog distribution. Only 14 cents per piece, and MIBA will still be offering rebates for distribution expenses. It’s the best way we’ve ever had to get the word out about your stores around the holiday season.
After lunch, we transitioned to the bookstore itself and began our “Peer Review” portion of the day. Attending booksellers were given critique forms and each perused the store looking at different elements of their operation. From the lighting to the layout to the inventory, the friendliness of the staff, the colors on the walls, the prominence of the signage and the qualities of the fixtures… The store’s owners then sat through a constructive conversation about what elements need attention and which elements on which they’ve hit the mark. Informative for both the hosts and the attendees, everybody left with great ideas about positive changes they can make to their bookstore.
To close out our day, we were graced by several area authors. Rainbow Rowell led things off with a statement of heartfelt gratitude for the support of independent bookstores, and disclosed a few tantalizing hints about her upcoming publishing schedule. Lucy Sanna read from her forthcoming release, The Cherry Orchard, and Rinker Buck had the audience giggling at his descriptions of an attempt to recreate the Oregon Trail journey. Bethany Hagen charmed us with tales of her adolescent employment woes, and Margaret Lukas confirmed our suspicion Omaha is not only an excellent city for bookselling but also a haven for literary talent.
March 26 – Spring Green, WI
Carrie and Robert switched things around for our second Spring Meeting, opting instead to visit stores on the way to the event.
Driving southeast out of the Twin Cities, we made our way first to Fair Trade Books, a predominately used shop in Red Wing, Minnesota. Rick and Faye purchased much of their inventory from The Book Cliffs of Wabasha, which closed the year before last. Rick, the store’s primary person-in-charge, has made things work be turning the shop into a thriving site of community good will. Not only does the store host an open mic every Saturday (free to attend, free to perform, and not limited to literary readings), he takes it on himself to produce and distribute a monthly calendar of community events throughout the city. He has become well known among business owners, and recently has been attending city council meetings behind an effort to build a solar garden in Red Wing. With the shop firmly rooted in the community’s mind as a place of social gathering and goodwill, Rick feels he’s ready to step more firmly into the world of frontlist bookselling, devoting more and more of his retail space on new books, though primarily in keeping with his store’s regional identity.
Viroqua, WI is a charming little downtown with a thriving local market. Sharing the façade of this market is Bramble Books, recently purchased by Cheryl Allen. Though she wasn’t in the store as we visited, we got a good sense of the operation. Young Adult titles and cookbooks seemed to be the primary focus.
While we were in Viroqua we also swung by the legendary Driftless Books. Operated by Eddy Nix and housed in an old tobacco warehouse, Driftless’ main floor had about as many books as you could fit into a warehouse. “There’s this many more upstairs, and this many again downstairs,” Eddy told us. We found a few treasures among the used inventory, and as we were checking out a conversation about the bookselling industry blossomed (as it often does). Eddy is a man of many ideas, and a firm believer in grassroots activism. We hope to hear more about his thoughts and plans for the shape of the bookselling industry, and were ecstatic that he took us up on our invitation to attend the meeting the following day.
Our meeting in Spring Green took place entirely at Arcadia Books. James, John, Nancy, Katie, and Michelle were kind enough to close the store and café for the day and devote the space to booksellers who came from all over. All told, we saw booksellers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa.
The morning unfolded about the same as it did in Omaha, with ABA leading us through their excellent education and an open forum over lunch. We also duplicated our “Bookstore Critique” session, with the owners and staff of Arcadia graciously accepting the feedback from fellow booksellers.
To close the day, we had a wonderful time listening to authors ranging from old favorites Michael Perry and Margi Preus to new ones J. Ryan Stradal and James Davita, as well as Alex Gordon, Spike Carlsen, and the tandem writing team of Ron Legro and Avi Lank.
On Saturday, January 24, the National Book Foundation launched a nationwide campaign called “National Readathon Day.” Spurred by the hashtag #timetoread, the campaign urged readers everywhere to pledge their love of reading for devoting a four-hour block of time to reading. Many independent booksellers got behind the idea and created space in their stores for customers to perform this reading.
In a recent newsletter to customers, Watermark Books in Wichita Kansas writes, “Many thanks to Saturday readers who read during the first annual Readathon; Shelly set up a cozy reading area on Saturday with a core group sticking to the whole four hours, accompanied by numerous drop-in readers. And for those of you who donated to the National Book Foundation, THANK YOU.”
Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis Minnesota hosted a marathon reading of Beowulf, tweeting “Beowulf marathon reading #inaction! #timetoread #NationalReadathonDay @ Magers & Quinn Booksellers. National Book Award-winner William Alexander even stopped by to perform some of the classic text.
According to the National Book Foundation, “On January 24, 2015, readers across the country demonstrated their love of literature by pledging to read for four hours. With their support, we raised over $100,000 for our education programs.”
Click on the map below and zoom in on our region to see which bookstores participated.
As 2014 came to a close, a number of MIBA booksellers looked back and recounted some of the standout events that defined their year. The following list comes from newsletters we’ve received in the past few years, but is no means and extensive list of the accomplishments and defining moments from around our region. Take a look, and if you’re inspired to share a moment that you feel defined your 2014, let us know about it at email@example.com.
What do indie bookstores do for their community? Here’s a truly remarkable answer to that question. Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO) responded to the unrest in Ferguson by giving back in a big way. Reported by BTW, Left Bank held a holiday book drive for Airport Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. The drive was truly a success. Left Bank’s customers purchased a book for every child at the school: 326 of them.
How did Left Bank do it? Was there a benefit to them? Co-owner Jarek Steels tells us more.
“Our children’s buyer, Sarah, selected the books for each classroom. We made ornaments with a child’s name on each of them and their grade and a book they could receive. The customers chose whichever ornament(s) they wanted to sponsor and we sold that book to them, then wrapped the book and put the child’s name on it. It was really a win for everyone. We sold books, the customer had an easy way to donate to a good cause, and the kids get quality children’s books.
Thank you Left Bank for encapsulating the civic duty inherent in an independent bookstore.
Booksellers: Keeping track of publishers’ on-going specials, especially for backlist, can be daunting. When you are ready to place an order on Monday morning, you can’t find that darn email that lists the promotion. Our friends at NAIBA compile this information in an excel spreadsheet and email it to buyers on Monday mornings. We’d like to share that information with you. Please email Carrie with the names and email addresses of the book buyers on your staff who would like to be on this distribution list. You will receive an email every Monday morning containing an Excel spreadsheet compilation of special offers and their deadlines.
For example, here is the list of special offers for the week ending 1/6/2014.
Publishers: Get your special offers in front of the booksellers at the time they are placing orders. All you need to do is assign someone to 1) receive a reminder email from NAIBA every Wednesday, and 2) reply with your current specials by Friday. NAIBA will provide a link to a Google Form for you to fill out. NAIBA will forward this compilation of special offers to the regional associations every Monday morning, and MIBA will forward it to our member booksellers. Sound good? Please join the program by emailing Eileen Dengler. Let her know which staff member would like to be on this distribution list.
- See more at: http://midwestbooksellers.org/2014/01/stay-on-top-of-publishers-special-offers/#sthash.VnwYLrTJ.dpuf
May 13, 2016
"Books are back. Only the technodazzled thought they would go away."
May 20, 2016
"People are hungry for real bookstores": Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are thriving
September 22, 2015
"The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead"