Friday, August 3, 2012

I Stop at Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis's Uptown Neighborhood.

While my official reason to visit Minnesota was to attend a gift show, I can’t pretend that at least part of the incentive for the travel was to visit the bookstores of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Things have changed a lot since I was last there, and while several Boswellians will be attending a trade show here in October, I will be back in Milwaukee keeping fort and running several events.

After the multi-hour highway trip, with the noticeable increase in water park resorts since my last journey, we were ready for a little urban neighborhood exploration.

Uptown was calling. Our former Hachette rep Suzanne noted that the Uptown Art Fair was going on, so we carefully parked about five blocks from the action, first ducking into Kowakski’s. I can’t avoid a great regional supermarket, and my friend Mary Heather turned me onto this store’s charms several years ago.

It was fitting that the art festival was going on, as the store were visiting, Magers and Quinn, opened in this location during the festival in 1994. Interestingly enough, they moved into this former car dealership just a few years before Schwartz moved into their Downer dealership in ’97. Unlike Schwartz, I think they own the building, as they take up all three floors. And though like Downer, they deal in both new and used books, their inventory seems to be more focused on second hand and bargain, unlike Boswell’s inventory (and Schwartz’s before it), which is predominantly new. I love this renaming of the humor section. My apologies for taking a picture without permission. I'll take it down if you request it!

In addition to building up their new inventory (seeing an void in the market with the loss of Borders Uptown, and Odegaard’s before it), they have also stepped up their event program. It turns out that we share a lot of authors; among the writers that did both Magers and Quinn and Boswell this season were Donald Ray Pollock, Robert Goolrick, Matthew Batt, and Alison Hagy.

Coming up, we’re both hosting Pauls Toutonghi for Evel Knievel Days. Hey, I’m reading that right now. It’s big open space that is a combination of tall shelves and tables, mixing new, used and bargain together, even on tables. It reminded me a bit of Oak Park’s Book Table in this regard. As one very smart bookseller once said to me, criticizing folks who separate out their new, used, and bargain, “a book is a book is a book.”

I can't leave a store without checking out their rec section. Ethan, who I know a bit from when he worked at Milkweed, was recommending Matt Burgess's Dogfight. Yes, it's a book that's in my to-be-read pile for some time. Another reason to read it. I also liked their “If you like” case, where books like The Hunger Games, The Paris Wife, and State of Wonder, were matched with suitable follow ups. And they had a nice selection of nameplate mugs, reusable bags, and this very nice postcards.

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