A visit to the western-most bookstore in the United States


Talk Story bookstore is in the sleepy little town of Hanapepe, Kaua'i in Hawaii. Carla and I visited it last week and loved everything about it, including its owners, Cynthia and Ed Justus, who were really friendly and helpful. Cynthia tracked down every magic trick book in the store for me!

The bookstore is in a former food and clothes store built in the 1930s called the Yoshiura Market. It's been converted to a clean, bright, and well-organized store with over 100,000 used and new books.

To see another unusual bookstore, read my post about Reader's Oasis in Quartzsite, Arizona. Read the rest

Used bookstores doing fine, allegedly

book cafe in queens topos

Trendy idea: America's bookstores—Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc—failed not because of Amazon, but from adopting a doomed big-box retail model that cannot be escaped. The evidence: UK bookstore chains are thriving, having located themselves in smaller units surrounded by foot traffic. And it turns out that wee used bookstores are doing great in the U.S, too.

Drew Nelles writes that The Used Bookstore Will Be the Last One Standing, focusing on Topos, a bookcafé in Queens.

Other shops have shuttered, or fled Manhattan in search of cheaper rents. But this has not necessarily been the case for used bookstores, many of which are thriving. “Strangely enough, it’s the big chain bookstores that are more of an anachronism,” Björkenheim said. “Even Strand is having to do a lot more of what Barnes & Noble was desperately doing for the last ten years. I don’t even know what they’re selling now—more tchotchkes and t-shirts and tote bags. Which is something a used bookstore doesn’t necessarily have to resort to.” The whole industry was probably heading in this direction, he added: “smaller used bookstores, rather than enormous megastores.”

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San Francisco bookstore is about 18" deep

This morning I posted about two claustrophobic bookstores, one in Helsinki and one in Paris. Brian Heater (our Comics Rack columnist and the director of media at Engadget) sent me a photo of what might be the most claustrophobic bookstore of all: GF Wilkinson Books in San Francisco. It's claustrophobic not because of book clutter; it's simply because store is so small that if you stood inside it and the doors were to close, you'd be squeezed.

Brian says:

It's essentially a wall of displays converted into a bookstore. I had a nice conversation with the titular Mr. Wilkinson, who has been in the book selling business for a number of years. This is just the latest incarnation. Perhaps some model for the future as Amazon and e-books continue to take a bite out of the bookstore market? Says he was inspired by the book tables set up around Manhattan (a number of whom, including one Aaron Cometbus, formed a wonderfully curated bookstore in Brooklyn called Book Thug Nation). I bought a terrific little pamphlet from 1949 called Toros Without Tears: A Simple Explanation of a Bullfight.

The SF Gate did a nice piece on Wilkinson last January.
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Delightfully claustrophobic bookstore in Paris

Jenny Hart (my friend who makes those cute iron-on embroidery patterns and kits) saw my post of the claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki and it reminded her of a charming claustrophobic bookstore in Paris. She wrote about it on Dinosaurs and Robots.

Un Regard Moderne is considered affectionately by many to be the greatest bookstore on earth. Tucked away on a tiny street in Paris, the space is so crammed with obscure books on art, photography, comics and true crime that only two people can sorta fit in there for browsing. The owner, Jacques Noël, stands quietly on a stack of books in the corner (sometimes only his forehead and a plume of smoke can be seen), graciously willing and able to locate any book from a mind-boggling array of stacks that seem to close in more and more each time I return. I once asked him if he had any books by Polish artist and author Bruno Shulz. He thought a moment and said no, he didn't. But the next time I stopped in several weeks later, without even inquiring, he silently walked over to me and placed two copies in my hands he'd ordered. Ah, Paris! Buenaventura Press has some good photos on Flickr giving you a feel for it.
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Claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki (photos)

My friend Randy is on a business trip in Helsinki. The last time he was there he told me about a tiny bookstore that was stacked floor to ceiling with books. I asked him to snap some photos the next time he went. Here they are.

He says:

I walked to the crazy bookstore I told you about. The sign reads ANTIKVARIAATTI, which means Antique Store. But it’s clearly overloaded with books only. The whole store is maybe 200 sq ft, and the books are stacked more than 10 feet high. In many areas at least 4-5 layers deep. The space for walking is barely 2 ft wide.
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Fundraising the expansion of Red Emma's, Baltimore's amazing radical bookstore cafe

Red Emma's, Baltimore's astoundingly awesome collectively run radical bookstore/cafe, is having an Indiegogo fundraiser that's gone into its final stretch.

Where the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster came from

Here's the backstory behind the iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters. Though 2.5 million were printed, they were never officially issued as they were reserved for crisis or invasion. 50 years later, Barter Books of Northumberland discovered a copy of the poster in a box of books from auction, and framed and hung it. They started selling copies a year later, and the rest is history.

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On (via Kottke) Read the rest