#33 Inklings Bookshop

Inklings BookshopInklings Bookshop
5629 Summitview Ave
Yakima, WA 98908

Visiting this shop was a very pleasant experience.  It’s in Washington state, not in Seattle, really about two hours away, over the pass, east of the Cascade Mountains — in Yakima, WA.

Yakima is a smallish city of 100k people.  Apples.  Lots of apples are grown here and shipped all over the world.  I mention it, because it’s that much a part of the landscape driving in.

I didn’t know what to expect heading toward Yakima, but Inklings was great.  It’s a medium-sized store in a great location — near a coffee shop and an independent grocery store.  I visited twice and there were always people milling about out front, slipping in and out of the store, browsing.

P1010203Inklings hosts a lot of events with local and nortwhest authors.  Every 2nd Saturday they host an outdoor fair, and there are weekly story hours for children on Tuesdays.

One very interesting aspect about this store is the collaboration they have with schools in the area.  Inklings actually employs an education specialist whose job it is to send out an e-newsletter to teachers in the valley.  It was thought of as a great way to target specific types of customers and they’ve seen an increase in school orders.  Working with schools is also helping create a new generation of bibliophiles.  Inklings has even hosted field trips to the store.  FIELD TRIPS TO A BOOKSTORE!!!


Published in: on July 17, 2009 at 7:18 pm  Comments (1)  

#32 Arundel Books

Arundel BooksArundel Books
1001 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98104

Downtown Seattle.  Arundel Books sits on 1st Ave between Pike Place and Pioneer Square.  It’s a couple of blocks from the piers on Alaskan Way.  All of this is to say that there is a lot of pedestrian and tourist traffic, and Arundel clearly has a great set-up.

The location isn’t large, but it’s attractive and is a corner store.  Its size belies its collection. This store carries new, used, and original Arundel Press books (they have their own press.)  Arundel carries somewhere between 300k – 400k titles in their two warehouses.  There’s also the second storefront in Los Angeles that deals primarily in art and design titles.  P1010184

And if that seems like a lot of books for two storefront,Well, there is also their online storefront on the website.  60% to 70% of Arundel’s sales comes from the website.  In fact, the website brings in so much business theh have a dedicated shipping guy handling orders.

So, two brick and mortar storefronts and a succesfull online retail website.  It sounds like the Pacific Northwest!


Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 12:42 am  Comments (2)  

#31 Literary Bookpost

Literary BookpostLiterary Bookpost
119 S. Main Street
Downtown Salisbury, NC 28144

Salisbury, North Carolina was the intersection of a few trading paths many years ago.  Daniel Boone set off from here to do a bit of exploring and his parents are buried nearby.  There’s also a college here, but there aren’t any other independent bookstores, so Literay Bookpost serves several communities in the Piedmont area beyond Salisbury, including Greensboro and Winston Salem.

A husband and wife team, Deal Safrit and Sheila Brownlow are a pair of book lovers who opened this store eleven years ago.  The Bookpost is strong on fiction, and it’s their biggest seller.  However, reflecting Deal’s own interests, Literary Bookpost is heavy on international titles and poetry.P1000907

And sales are up over last year’s and the Bookpost is growing.  They’re renovating and moving into a larger space that will more than double the size of the store to 4,600 square feet.  Salisbury it turns out, while small, is an artsy town — with a symphony and many good theaters.  It’s known as the Paris of the Piedmont.  So, Deal’s curating is much appreciated and it shows.  In the time I was there, customers came and went and both he and his wife seemed to know them all.

This place really is special in that it focuses on books and events.  They’ve even retired a chair for a long-time customer/supporter who passed away.  It’s mounted above their heads behind the register.  A testimony of thanks to this reader who never missed an event. An example of what the community means to them and what they mean to the community.  Another must see.


Published in: on July 9, 2009 at 1:03 am  Comments (1)  

#30 The Alabama Booksmith

P1000881The Alabama Booksmith
2626 19th Place, South
Birmingham, AL 35209
Tel: (205)870-4242

This is the store that a lot of other store-owners asked if Id visited yet.  This is the owner a lot of folks asked if I’d met yet.  Jake Reiss is the fellow behind The Alabama Booksmith and his reputation is deserved.  Jake might be one of the smartest booksellers in the business.

“Most stores are events driven, ours is events entirely,” says Reiss.  And he’s not overstating that fact.  Albama Booksmith isn’t in an easy to reach location.  There aren’t pedestrians in the area at all.  The people who visit his store are doing so because Reiss has made it a destinationP1000887 shop and it’s most likely one of the best destination shops in America.

With several thousand people in his customer database, Reiss has hosted the likes of Roth and the late Updike in his store.  See, he has the largest “signed first edition club” in America and he sells to people around the globe.

Between the signed edition club, the regional writer’s series, and the other events, Reiss’ is a store that stays busy and profitable.  He also sells Bananagrams.

Not bad for a fellow who opened a bookstore thinking it was a great way to make money.


Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

#29 Rock Point Books

P1000873Rock Point Books
401 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Chattanooga, TN is truly, truly, truly, one of the coolest cities in America.  Public art is everywhere.  Sculptures.  Public concerts.  A great museum.  An aquarium.  A university.  The coolest kids from around Tennessee.

All very surprising, frankly.  I expected a sleepy Southern town, but got quite the opposite.  They have that unfortunate song about the choo-choo that they’re saddled with.  They hear people singing it all the time.  It belies the truth–Chattanooga is a city that is buzzing with artsy types.  I almost don’t want to write about it for fear of people going there and spoiling it.  But it is clearly a city that is about to happen.

Sitting in the center of this hip little city is Rock Point Books.  Rock Point is a new store that opened about three years ago.  There’s a deli next P1000876door.  There are restaurants across the street.  Plenty of pedestrians during the week and tourists from the bigger Southern cities on the weekend.

Rock Point has a large dedicated space for their many events and they also have a great children’s section with a replica of the Joad truck for kids to climb on.  They host readings and partner with museums and other nonprofits for lectures. they host writer’s conferences like the Meacham  as well as writing workshops.

Great place to visit.


Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm  Comments (2)  

#28 Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe

Malaprop'sMalaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe
55 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Tel: (828) 254-6734

This is the store that may have changed a city.  One could argue that Asheville, NC is the city it is because in 1982 Emoke Bracz had the idea to open Malaprop’s in Western North Carolina’s mountain city.  There was nothing here when she did.  Stores in the center of town were boarded up.  But she built anyway.  A bookstore/cafe.  Since then, it’s arguably become the center of a new Asheville.

This store is worth a special visit.  Downtown Asheville is an anti-corporate place.  There are no chain businesses in the city and that’s just the way it’s citizens want it.  It feels like Cambridge or Berkeley.  Intelligent, Liberal, fun.P1000918

Malaprop’s is a general trade bookstore, but the selection reflects its booksellers’ interests and appeals to its community.  They also carry sidelines here, fine-quality cards and journals.

There’s always a crowd at Malaprop’s because there’s so much to do here.  Whether it’s a cup of coffee, the “banned books” section, the poetry, or a reading, Malaprop’s is the prototype of the what a bookstore can be.


Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 1:45 am  Leave a Comment  

#27 The Open Book

the open bookThe Open Book
110 South Pleasant Drive
Greenville, SC 29607

The Open Book is the largest and oldest independent bookstore in South Carolina.  And for this pilgrim it was a great big oasis!  This store had food, coffee, free wi-fi, and friendly staff.  It’s family owned and operated and has been for thirty years.

They carry new and used titles here and have a very large children’s section.  Their customers have supported them for a long time, and those customers who grew up visiting the store now bring their own children.  P1000855

A lot of southern authors, especially from the Carolinas, make it a must-visit while on tour as Open Book has a strong sections on the region and regional authors.

As is the case with most stores, they work a lot of trade shows and school fairs, and the cafe is actually sublet to a different owner, allowing Open Books to keep their focus on books.

One final thing — they have a room set aside for community usage.  Whether it’s writing workshops or community clubs, The Open Book really is an oasis for Greenville, SC.


Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  

#26 Chop Suey Books

chop suey booksChop Suey Books
2913 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221

Chop Suey books sits on West Cary Street in hip Carytown, Richmond’s funky shopping district.  It’s in a good location — next to an ice cream parlor and across from a theater.  There is a lot of pedestrian traffic in the area and Chop Suey gets a lot of business from people walking by.

They sell new and used books here and the new books seem very carfeully selected.  It’s also a fun store.  Heavy on art and design titles.  They host events — readings and art shows and lectures.  They also host a young writer’s summer workshopchop suey.  The store has two floors and not letting any chance go to waste, they sublet some space on their ground floor to Velocity Comics.

The most interesting aspect of this store, however, has to be the nonprofit they started called Books on Wheels.  This nonprofit provides free books, bike parts, and bicycles to at-risk youth in Richmond and beyond.

A cool store.


Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm  Comments (1)  

#25 Fireside Books

fireside booksFireside Books & Gifts
Tri City Mall
2270 US Hwy 74A Byp Ste 509
Forest City, NC 28043

Here’s a store, an owner, and a business model to watch! Half-way between Charlotte, NC and Asheville, NC, in a small town named Forest City, rural by big-city standards, this twenty-year-old bookstore was bought last year buy Linda Parks and her sister, Kay Hooper.

Linda is the dynamo in charge of running the business. Working closely with political leaders in the community, she has taken on not only the book business but the economic development of her town. This is way past bookselling and would be a monumental challenge for anyone. But Linda makes it look easy; she even makes it look fun!


Her investment in the community begins with moving Fireside, with city council’s blessing and support, to a renovated theater in Forest City’s rehabilitated downtown. The move will more than triple her store from its current 1,700 sq ft location to 7,000 sq feet of space.

And it goes on and on…Fireside Books and Gifts is more than the bookstore and the extensive sidelines. It’s really a community think tank that gets things done. A brand that deals in purveying literature and culture. Whether it’s sponsoring T-ball or creating book trailers through their Fireside Films division, Fireside is fast becoming a beacon for its community’s future.


Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

#24 New Dominion Bookshop

new dominion bookshopNew Dominion Bookshop
Historic Downtown Mall
404 East Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Charlotetesville is a college town, home to University of Virginia and a well-known book festival.  And New Dominion Bookshop is the very proper, very genteel, store on Main Street.  It’s a nice place to look at.  The shelves are tall.  A smart selection.  It’s the oldest bookstore in Virginia — opened in the twenties.

A general trade bookshop with an emphasis on architecture and landscaping, according to the person I spoke with its strongest aspect is the fine-tuning of the inventory.

It’s also an event heavy store.  Longevity is assured by the fact that they own their own building and work closely with their community.  There’s a P1000840thriving rose garden out back, complete with trellis and birds.  It’s not hard to miss being on historic Main.


Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment