Some New Trend

List Wednesdays :: 5 Bookstores We Love by Kevin Wilder

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For this week’s list, we wanted to do something special, and show some love to the bookstores we adore outside the Magic City. We wandered in these places on our travels, and didn’t leave until the staff dragged us out by our hair. Surely this list will exclude some good ones, so if there’s an independent bookstore you’d like to see mentioned in a future list, let us know. (Expect a Birmingham-exclusive list in the near future. And sorry about the personal commentary—it was hard to resist.)


1) TATTERED COVER : On my way to Montana one winter, I found myself stranded at the Denver airport for several hours. I decided to board a bus and venture out into the city, and at the advice of a friend I dropped by the gigantic, historic Lowenstein Theater Tattered Cover emporium. I browsed two stories while sipping some great coffee. There was a lot to see, and it was freezing outside (I also had to purchase a knit cap that day). If only I’d been stuck one day earlier, I found out I could’ve caught a reading—and possibly shaken hands—Christopher Moore.

2) READING REPTILE Carrie told me about this one during our days at Jonathan Benton. Kansas City’s Reading Reptile offers “books and tapes for young mammals.” Since one of my tasks at the time was ordering books for Children, their site proved to be an outstanding resource, not to mention plenty of fun. These guys are super weird! Check out a photo of the family.

3) BOEKIE WOEKIE : (pictured above) Almost everything is handmade in this Amsterdam shop run by artists, with books by artists. Most of it’s from leading Dutch painters and graphic designers. On vacation last July I had the pleasure of finding this tiny shop, located near the Jordaan’s grand canal district. The neighborhood owner happened to be sitting at his desk fashioning postcards out of classic Dutch food boxes, and I bought a pair of wallpaper-like screenprints featuring a school of fish. (*By the way, Carrie and John: I’m sure the offer still stands if you’d like to send him some leftover Sugartop Gumdrop inventory.)

4) MOJO BOOKS & MUSIC : This is one of the newer hot spots in Tampa (one has to dig to find places like this). Half used bookstore, half vinyl record store, MOJO is less than a couple blocks away from my first college alma mater (I only wish it had been around while I was a student). According to the website, “items are selected for their quality and uniqueness.” I’ve spent some hard-earned tip money in here, and always like to chat with the knowledgeable staff. If you’re looking for a Jonathan Richman or Lee Hazlewood LP, no sweat—they’ve got it.

5) BOOKPEOPLE : An incredibly large “community bound by books” located in Austin, Texas. Also during a previous summer, my then-girlfriend and I traveled to Texas for my cousin’s wedding. An afternoon was spent in Austin, with the main targets being Waterloo Records and BookPeople. Carrie even let me keep track of my hours so I could get paid for “bookstore research.” Presentation and customer service seem to be key here. You’re bound to exit with a stack of books taller than you, after reading employee’s blurbs on notecards beside picks on display. The shop was involved with the inspiring Keep Austin Weird campaign—it’s a perfect reminder for us to support independents wherever we go!

2 Comments so far
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Stores I’ve loved in my travels include Square Books in Oxford, Miss., The Strand in New York City, Bookman/Bookwoman in Nashville and Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Comment by CJ

Wow, we should get you to compile the next list. (Seriously…do it!)

Comment by Kevin Wilder

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