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Baby Boomers Featured as Pillars of Indie Bookselling

Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore, Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, and Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank Books were recently featured in the Associated Press article “Baby boomers still the spine of independent book selling,” which detailed the origins of each bookstore and the position each now holds in the independent bookselling community.

The Baby Boomer generation “basically invented the contemporary independent bookstore, and persevered through some very hard times,” ABA CEO Oren Teicher told AP. “The key to it was they always understood the store wasn’t only about buying and selling books, but a way to engage with the community.”

Tempe, Arizona’s Changing Hands, which opened in 1974, now has a second location, in Phoenix. “Books had changed my life and I assumed they could change other people’s lives as well,” Shanks said, recalling the inspiration that drove her, Bob Sommer, and then-business partner Tom Brodersen to open the store. “I really imagined this as a place where people would come and talk about ideas and books, and I still see it that way.”

Kleindienst has been the co-owner of St. Louis, Missouri’s Left Bank Books since 1977, but worked as a sales clerk in the store before that. “I couldn’t separate what I do for a living from who I am,” she said. “I am a writer, and an avid reader, and I got a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies. But I kept my day job at the store; it was very integral to my identity.”

Kaplan opened South Florida’s Books & Books in 1982, and the store now has locations throughout Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, and beyond. “I just said, ‘I’ll open a bookshop,’ the way Mickey Rooney was going to put on a show. I didn’t know what I was doing,” Kaplan told AP. “Almost every bookseller of my age probably has the same exact story. Nobody started out saying to themselves, ‘Books, that’s the secret to making money,’ the way the guy in The Graduate says, ‘Plastics.’”

Utah Goes Local During “Shift Your Spending” Week

At the Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index conference, held at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, on November 24, bookstore co-owner Betsy Burton and Cicero Group CEO Randy Shumway invited the residents of Utah to participate in Shift Your Spending Week, from November 27 to December 5, by pledging to spend 10 percent of their money at local businesses this holiday shopping season.

“If Utahns were to simply shift 10 percent of their spending annually to local businesses, we would see 1.3 billion additional dollars in Utah’s economy,” Shumway said, as reported by Fox 13 News.

“Every time you spend your dollar you’re making a decision, not just about the stuff you’re buying, but about the place you live,” said Burton.

Burton, the president of the American Booksellers Association, serves as a co-chair of the board for Local First Utah, which includes more than 4,000 small and independent businesses. 

Unabridged Bookstore to Mark 35 Years

Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois, is celebrating its 35th anniversary on December 12 with a party featuring tasty treats made by the store’s cookbook-testing team, raffles, discounts, and a photographic timeline of the store from past to present, reported Chicago Reader.

Owner Ed Devereux opened the store in 1980 after stints at the University of Illinois bookshop during college, at bookstores in San Francisco and Chicago, and as a sales rep for Ballantine.

“I had a purist notion of what a bookstore should be,” Devereux said, so he committed to opening a store stocked with a well-curated selection of books — and only books — and staffed by strong and well-read booksellers.

“I personally think the store’s success is due to its great employees,” he said. “We pay them living wages, with health care and vacation time. This sets the store apart: that the people who work there make a good living.”

Battenkill Books Opens New Children’s Room

Cambridge, New York’s Battenkill Books opened a brand-new children’s reading room on November 21. Battenkill was one of 178 bookstores that received a donation as part of author James Patterson’s million dollar Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives campaign last year.

Store owners Connie Brooks and Chris Callahan transformed an unused space adjacent to the bookstore into a room that now features board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books, plus crafts and toys, reported the Glens Falls Post-Star. Author and illustrator Anne Hunter painted a mural of an oak tree with wildlife on the wall.

The store celebrated the opening of the new room with a puzzle workshop, a ribbon cutting, a meet-and-greet with Hunter, and a story time.