Friday, August 26, 2016

Bookstore visits - Evanston and Appleton

Jen and I went to the Windy City Gift Show in July to see if we could find some interesting lines. We wound up picking up only one new vendor, an importer of wooden holiday ornaments, as well key chains, magnets, and multiple size plaques. Everything is made up of different colored woods. I'd ignored them in the past, but by focusing on just the ornaments and just on the images that would work at Boswell (as opposed to palm trees, for example), I think they'll work.

We drove back on Devon to eat Indian food and that left us within a short distance of Evanston. I'd wanted to go to Bookends and Beginnings since they'd opened, taking about half the space of the old Bookman's Alley. The store is literally on an alley off a main street downtown, and there's something almost cavelike about the atmosphere. 

The store, opened by Nina Barrett in 2014, is a new-used hybrid, filled with interesting displays. I found several books on their new release tables that caught my interest, such as the book version of Whit Stillman's Love and Friendship. Jen and I admired some of their gift items, such as the posters from Obvious State. And in the kids section, I loved this collection of books from other countries.  I've never seen anything like it!

Another kid-friendly tidbit is that their storytime features my old bookseller colleague Chris Kennelly in a rotating slot. I wound up being practical and purchasing She Weeps Each Time You're Born, the Quan Barry novel that we will be reading at the in-store lit group on September 6, 7 pm.

Another bookstore visit happened on a recent visit to Appleton, when we went for a family funeral. Kirk's Uncle Keith's vocation was insurance agent, but he was a man with any number of avocations, including travel, collection (watches, pipes, musical recordings), and art. There's so much artistic ability in Kirk's family - both Kirk's mother and sister are very talented - I'm expecting to start seeing canvases around the house.

Speaking of pipes, I am now going to confess that in between the service and the brunch, I stopped by Pages and Pipes, the bookstore in downtown Appleton. I'm fascinated by this store, as its located in the hometown of the Book World stores, the stores that do small towns through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and even North Dakota.

But the thing is, this store, while in BPDI's home market, is not actually part of the Book World chain. There's at least one other location in Oshkosh, with a different name, called Paper Tiger. I swear these stores look so much alike and even their websites feel like they were designed by the same person (particularly their tobacco pages), but since I don't know anyone there, I'll never know. Help me solve this mystery! Is the relationship cousins or coincidence?

Pages and Pipes has a distinctive look that generally features at least one wall of magazines, as if, like Book World and Books-A-Million (BAM!), they once had ties to a magazine wholesaler. There was a focus on mass markets I hadn't seen for years, and sections like Dungeons and Dragons that brought me back to the days of buying for the Dickens Discount Books in Kenosha and Gurnee. Good times!

Coming up, more visits to bookstores in Kentucky and Tennessee.

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