In this third installment of “Bookshops I Would Love to Visit Around the World”, we are visiting North America. On reflecting what I feel makes a bookshop special, I have made a checklist:
Emily’s bookshop requirements:
- History: the origins of the bookshop should have an interesting backdrop or/and the building should be more than just a pile of bricks, but instead have a charismatic charm
- Books, books and possibly a few more books
- Reading makes me rather peckish so a café is appreciated but not necessary
- I like bargains so a bargain rack or shelf, charity bookshops are the love of my life
- Comfortable seats or a comfortable area to flick through possible purchases or read your recent find
- Friendly staff (but surely anyone that works in a bookshop is lovely!)
- Owners that want their bookshop to be more than a business making them money
Also this week, I have solely picked my top 5 from Jen Cambpell’s The Bookshop Book which is my current favourite non-fiction piece which I wish I had written myself. In her North America section, she has listed over 50 books so I feel pretty proud that I somehow managed to condense it down so much. If you are a book lover of any kind, I cannot recommend her book highly enough. To the list…
1.) TYPE BOOKSHOP: TORONTO
Before you do anything, I implore you to watch this stop start animation that is under 2 minutes long, made by the owner of Type Bookshop Sean Ohlenkamp and a team of 27 volunteers called “The Joy of Books“.
Have you watched it?
Isn’t it fabulous! Even my brother appreciated it and he doesn’t “love books, he only likes them” but he said and I quote, “Oh I loved that”. He is a 13 year old boy so I would take that opinion very highly if I were you.
The Globe and Mail labelled the bookshop as “a brilliant little chocolate box for bibliophiles” and they believe in the power of the written word which I cannot begin to express my agreement for.
They have two bookshops in Toronto and I feel that anyone who makes such a thoughtful and imaginative mini-film such as theirs, goes above and beyond the “good” bookshop status.
2.) MONKEY’S PAW: TORONTO
The whole reason for this mini-series “Bookshops I would love to visit around the world” was to showcase the many wonderful independent bookstores this world has to offer. I would love to visit them all and to pick a favourite would be incredibly difficult, saying this… if I was held dangling on the edge of a cliff and I had to pick one, this bookstore is a real contender.
“The Monkey’s Paw stocks a diverse variety of 20th-century printed matter, with special emphasis on visual culture; obsolete opinions and technologies; lesser-known works on highly specific topics; books as objects; and pop detritus. Here you’ll find the book you didn’t know you were looking for.”
That introductory paragraph is obtained from their website and from that alone I would be more than tempted to pay them a visit if I had the means but what I think makes them stand out from the rest, is their small print which follows…
The shop is also home to the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomizing vending machine for old books.
The Biblio-Mat you say! A vending machine for books you say!
In the featured image for this bookshop, you will see the wondrous invention in the right handed corner and a wondrous invention it most certainly is. Here is the video to show you how it operates and it is essentially book-porn. No two books are the same and for two dollars you could find your new favourite book, so I’ll see you there!
3.) BRAZENHEAD BOOKS: NEW YORK (ALTHOUGH NOT ANYMORE)
IF YOU’RE READING THIS IT’S TOO LATE
I don’t know how to tell you this but unfortunately I can never visit Brazenhead Books because it’s no longer in existence. If you’re interested in the details then this article sums up perfectly the essence and fall of Brazenhead but essentially it had always sparked controversy as it was a “secret bookshop”. The details of its whereabouts were always kept on the down-low but as the popularity increased, people began to post on social media about where it was which ultimately led to its demise.
The owner described it as “a bigger thing than a bookstore — it’s a community of writers” and the apartment in which the bookstore resided in was rid of appliances and anything useful for living. It was an apartment of books which provided an atmosphere of mystery and intrigue. People didn’t walk past the apartment and think “Oh here’s a bookshop, lets have a browse”, they had to phone or email Michael Seidenberg, the owner, directly to arrange a time to drop by.
It’s sad to see a bookstore cease to exist and it will be forever held in our memory.
4.) THE BOOK NOOK: TEXAS
“I like bargains so a bargain rack or shelf, charity bookshops are the love of my life”
If we refer back to no.4 on my bookshop requirement, this Texan bookstore is absolutely perfect, in fact they even have a page on their website dedicated to their deals.
They have a paperback cart where and I quote, “most paperbacks on the cart are 25 cents” and they have “Bags o’Books” which include “14 (or more) paperbacks in a clear plastic bag for $5. There’s nothing wrong with them- they’re just books that sat on the shelf for too long, and had to make way for new arrivals.”
Furthermore, for every bag full they sell, the store donates box of books to troops serving overseas. Thoughtful and cheap: my kind of store!
5.) BOOK PEOPLE: AUSTIN, TEXAS
In reference to point no.2: “Books, books and possibly a few more books” , this bookstore is the largest in the state of Texas which must be some mighty achievement. Most bookstores sell merchandise for the books they sell such as, bags, badges and mugs but this store is so loved that they have their own.
They are open 364 days a year with the exception of Thanksgiving and have their own café which I always appreciate. They run book festivals, birthday parties, story times (in their own small theatre), author events and have a massage chair. They are not a book shop, they are a way of life.
Not only are they a pillar of their own community but they are involved in a project called “Words Across the World”, using reading to educate the children of Austin about the wider world as well as raising funds and donating books to those that are not lucky enough to have books at their disposal.
This store ticks so many points from my list and is one that I will definitely put on my bookshop bucket list!
Thanks for reading!
Emily Simms: 21:49