Tim Kaine: 'I Could Go Back to the Bookstore'
"It felt good to go back to a neighborhood where I could go to the bookstore and nobody had to check it out before I walked in. I could walk up to Stir Crazy and get a cup of coffee."
"It felt good to go back to a neighborhood where I could go to the bookstore and nobody had to check it out before I walked in. I could walk up to Stir Crazy and get a cup of coffee."
Chuck and Dee Robinson, founders and owners of Village Books and Paper Dreams, Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., are selling the stores to Kelly Evert, Paul Hanson and Sarah Hutton, the store's senior management team, who have been handling most day-to-day operations for the past several years. The sale is effective January 1.
Sarah Hutton; Dee Robinson, Chuck Robinson, Kelly Evert; and Paul Hanson.
"The time is right," Chuck Robinson said. "Our business is doing well in Fairhaven and we're thrilled with the success of the Lynden store. And, most important, we have the right team in place to carry this business forward." He said that the store's mission has been "to build community," and the new owners "have that in their DNA. We couldn't have found a better team if we had scoured the entire country."
"We're both in good health," Dee Robinson added. "And we want to spend more time traveling, enjoying our home in Lynden, and reading the books we've stockpiled over the years. I've even begun to take up gardening." She retired two years ago, although she has remained involved in strategic decisions. Both Robinsons will continue their involvement with the Chuckanut Radio Hour.
Sarah Hutton began her bookselling career as an inventory specialist for Borders. She came to Village Books and Paper Dreams 11 years ago and has been the store manager for more than seven years. Until recently she was also the children's book buyer. "I knew I was coming to work in a special place when I arrived more than a decade ago," she said. "I didn't know then that I'd end up being an owner, but I'm so pleased and proud to take on that position."
Kelly Evert and Paul Hanson, who are married, both joined Village Books and Paper Dreams in 2011 after working at Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island, Wash. She has years of general retail, buying and interior design experience, and has worked at three independent bookstores. Besides her management duties at Village Books, she has been the gift buyer and merchandise manager. She commented: "This business has become an institution in this community, and we're so excited to be given the opportunity to carry on the legacy Dee and Chuck are leaving."
Paul Hanson, who had been the manager of Eagle Harbor for 15 years, began at Village Books as community outreach director, then became general manager in 2013. He has also been president of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and a member of the American Booksellers Association's Booksellers Advisory Council.
Hanson said that he and Evert had originally approached the Robinsons about "working with and for them" because they wanted to own a bookstore at some point and the Robinsons had a model "we wanted to follow." (He praised the husband-and-wife ownership model because "it's a team effort. You always have someone to call you on your crap and not be a yea-sayer. It's also a big job, and you have two people on the team.")
After they arrived at the store and met Sarah Hutton, they found the three worked really well together. "Where I thought two people would be great, now I like the three-legged stool, which is a lot more stable," Hanson continued.
Hanson praised the Robinsons for building Village Books and contributing so much to and being such a part of the community. "You can't go into a room or down a street in Bellingham without anyone knowing who they are," he observed.
As for making possible changes, Hanson said that "one of the cornerstones of Village Books is innovation and change. Change is why we're here and why we're still here." He emphasized that any future change will come "in the spirit of change in the past, in the spirit of improvement and saying yes and being open to opportunities."
Chuck Robinson echoed that, saying that "of course" the new owners would change things. But "what won't change is the commitment to this community, to books, to free expression, and to providing a great customer experience and personal service. These folks have lived the core values of this business and will continue to uphold them."
Robinson said that the idea of selling the store "had been there for a while" but perhaps "the seed was planted" when Evert and Hanson joined the staff. "Suddenly there were people on the horizon who looked like they could possibly take over." The five had been having conversations for the past two years, but during a long cruise that the Robinsons took this past spring, the pair talked a lot about the timing, and "when we came back, we kind of unloaded it on them."
In the last few years, Chuck Robinson has worked more from his home office and in the larger community; he will consult with the Village Books stores over the next several years and will direct special projects. He commented: "There are some things I'm in charge of in the stores, and it will take some time to transition to others." He also intends eventually to do some business consulting with bookstores and other retail businesses, saying that while plans are very open, "I would love to be able to work with new or old stores."
Another big goal: Chuck wants to complete the cross-country bicycle trip that he began in the spring but had to cut short after dogs attacked him in North Dakota. He likely will ride to Maine and do fundraising again, probably for Binc and a local community foundation. (On the first part of his trip, earlier this year, he raised $30,000.)
The Robinsons founded Village Books in Bellingham in 1980, and opened Paper Dreams, which specializes in sidelines, two years later. In late 2015, Village Books and Paper Dreams also opened in Lynden. Besides being deeply involved in the Bellingham community, the Robinsons have been deeply involved in the bookselling world. Chuck is a former president of the ABA and PNBA. Dee was also on the PNBA board and the ABA's Booksellers Advisory Council. They both taught for many years at the old ABA booksellers schools, where Chuck said, "I felt I learned more than the students do."
There will be a combination reception for the new owners and farewell for the Robinsons at the Bellingham store on Saturday, February 4, and at the Lynden store on Sunday, February 5. During February, the new owners also will hold meet-and-greets over coffee and pastries in Book Fare Café at Village Books in Bellingham and at Avenue Bread in Lynden.
Denise Berthiaume and Jack McKeown, who founded Books & Books Westhampton Beach, in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., in 2010, are closing the store, effective Saturday, December 3.
In a statement, they said, "For a variety of reasons of personal reasons, including the desire to retire to other pursuits, to travel more extensively, and to spend time with extended family in Virginia... the time was right to make the change."
They added that they are "proud to have participated in the indie bookstore resurgence that began several years ago, and has proceeded apace in this decade, resulting in the opening or expansion of hundreds of independent bookstores nationwide. The decline of e-book sales and the rebound in print bode well for the future of independent bookstore retail, and the owners expect that like-minded individuals will step forward at some point to bring a new bookstore to the Westhampton community."
They also thanked "the entire greater Westhampton community for their years of friendship and support."
Berthiaume and McKeown opened the store as an affiliate of Books & Books, which is owned by Mitchell Kaplan and has stores in south Florida and the Cayman Islands. Before opening the store, Berthiaume and McKeown had long careers in book publishing: she is chairman of Verso Advertising, and he held executive positions at HarperCollins and was co-founder and CEO of Perseus Books Group.
Bill Kramer and David Tenney, who founded Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C., 40 years ago, are selling the business to Steve Salis, co-founder of the local chain &pizza, the Washington Post reported. Tenney will retain an interest in the business. The sale is expected to be finalized in the first half of next year.
Last year, Kramer and Tenney began discussing selling the store and restaurant, which had sales of $10 million in 2015, evenly split between the two parts. "I knew the business was viable, but I also knew the restaurant was beat up and tired," Tenney said. "If we could find some way to resurrect and invigorate the restaurant, there would be a wonderful future ahead."
When the pair met Salis, they realized, Kramer said, "We had a similar outlook and very similar goals. I realized it was time for me to, as gracefully as possible, bow out and bring in new talent."
Already Salis is expanding the store into an 800-square-foot space next door and creating a children's book annex that is scheduled to open this week. Among other plans: building a new coffee bar, adding more events space and increasing cookbooks, history and nonfiction titles.
Salis said that he has spent a year studying the store and especially how customers move through it. "It's been a digestion period--coming in and watching everything," he told the Post. "Even if things give you heartburn, you want to be very, very careful to not ruin something that's great."
He added that the biggest challenge will be merging the bookstore and restaurant, which have separate entrances, computer systems and employees. A third of customers in either part of Kramerbooks & Afterwords don't know the other business exists. Salis wants, he continued, "to figure out how do we do a better job of bringing these experiences together."
As Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the holiday shopping season approaches, independent booksellers in the United States are finalizing Indies First plans and looking toward the busy end of the year.
Digital audiobook provider Libro.fm, which announced a partnership with the American Booksellers Association to sell audiobooks through independent bookstores earlier this month, is offering a free digital audiobook on Indies First Day. Customers at participating stores will be able to choose from more than nine digital audiobooks, including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, the driving force behind the creation of Indies First in 2013.
In Brooklyn, N.Y., Greenlight Bookstore co-owners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting plan to open a second Greenlight store just in time for Indies First. Thanksgiving weekend there will be a private party for community lenders at the new store in Brooklyn's Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, followed by a holiday open house on December 8 and a grand opening party planned for January 7. At the original Fort Greene store on Small Business Saturday, things will be kept simple with a focus on customer service, handselling and highlighting the store's annual holiday picks. Looking ahead to the holidays, Stockton Bagnulo expects to see continued robust sales of Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther, and novels such as Zadie Smith's Swing Time, Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Brit Bennett's The Mothers.
"I was just joking--but it's true--that for this year's Indies First, we've aimed big and decided to open a new bookstore," said Fitting. "I doubt we'll do the same thing every year, but it does make this one pretty special."
Page 2 Books in Burien, Wash., will welcome Seattle author Jayne Anne Krentz as a guest bookseller from 1-3 p.m. on November 26. Krentz has written dozens of romance novels and many bestsellers over the years under a variety of pseudonyms. Her next novel, When All the Girls Have Gone, will come out just a few days after Indies First, on November 29.
At CoffeeTree Books in Morehead, Ky., co-owners Grant Alden and Susan Thomas will set up a special display with recommendations from local author Tom Williams and serve refreshments throughout the day. There will be cookies from Rosie Daykin's Butter Celebrates! cookbooks, mulled cider and popcorn--CoffeeTree Books is located in an old movie theater, and the popcorn machine is still there and operational. Shoppers will also receive free tote bags with their purchases, as long as supplies last. Thomas said that there didn't seem to be a major stand-out title driving people to the store but noted that J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has been selling particularly well, even for a national bestseller.
"It definitely hits a little close to home here, and I think the elections results may keep that one on the top of our own list," said Thomas. "People are trying to understand their neighbors."
In Boston, Papercuts J.P. is celebrating both its second anniversary and hosting a launch party for its new publishing imprint, Cutlass Press. Musician Rick Berlin will read from his memoir, The Paragraphs, which is Cutlass's inaugural title, and sign copies. There will also be champagne and cupcakes.
Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna, and Seward Park, Wash., is celebrating Indies First this year with a variety of special offers, prize giveaways and author visits. All three stores will be running a "spend $50 or more, get a $10 gift card" promotion. At the Seward Park location, which opened just this year, there will be a host of Seattle-area authors, including Sherman Alexie, Laurie Frankel and David Schmader. In Ravenna, there will be a special storytime in the morning, followed by a prize wheel in the afternoon, and at Lake Forest Park there will be another prize wheel and free coffee available all day. Wendy Ceballos, the store's director of events and marketing, said that aside from the Seward Park location, there was a definite focus this year on driving people in to shop, rather than running events all day.
Ceballo added that Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, seems to have caught many people's imagination, and that sales in general are picking up earlier this year. She said: "That could be that fall was a bit quiet up until the election or it could be post-election retail therapy. Either way it feels like people want to be out and around other people, and stores like ours are great places to do that."
At DIESEL, a bookstore in Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif., owners John Evans and Alison Reid will try something new this year: 10% of the Small Business Saturday sales from the Oakland and Larkspur locations will be donated to efforts opposing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. In addition to those charitable activities, which Evans called "Indies First for First Nations," there will be authors visiting throughout the day, with four signed up to visit the Brentwood location. On December 2, DIESEL will host Sen. Bernie Sanders at an offsite event in Berkeley, and Evans said he expects Sanders's new book, Our Revolution, to remain a strong seller throughout the season. He added that he expected good things from Rebecca Solnit's imaginative atlas of New York City, Nonstop Metropolis, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and the photography book Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees by Beth Moon. Evans also wondered whether this year's late Hanukkah would result in a slow start to December followed by a frenzied last few days before Christmas and the first night of Hanukkah.
"There's a lot of emphasis on handselling," said Evans. "That's what I love about the season: getting books for a particular person, rather than saying 'this book, everybody wants it.' " --Alex Mutter
The fourth annual Cider Monday, "the bricks-and-mortar response to Cyber Monday and the frenzy of online shopping associated with Black Friday and its invasion of Thanksgiving," will take place on Monday, November 28. Participating stores offer customers a cup of cider and thanks for shopping local.
Willard Williams, the owner of the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, Peterborough and Milford, N.H., came up with the idea three years ago. This year, bookstores celebrating Cider Monday include Snowbound Books, Marquette, Mich., the Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt., Phoenix Books in Essex, Burlington, Rutland and Chester, Vt. In addition, a variety of non-bookstore retailers and some buy local and downtown groups are participating.
For more information, stores should click on Monadnock Buy Local.
The Miami Book Fair closed out a week of literary events for adults and children, in English and Spanish, with a two-day street fair this past weekend. Among the more than 500 authors featured at this year's event: guest of honor Senator Bernie Sanders, Trevor Noah, the National Book Award finalists and winners, Geraldine Brooks, Gene Luen Yang, Richard Blanco, Dave Barry, T.C. Boyle, Ha Jin, Maria Semple and Ridley Pearson. Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, is one of the founders of the book fair.
Bart Carithers took over as owner of Next Page Books (formerly New Bo Books) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last December 1 "at the height of the holiday shopping season," the Gazette reported, adding that this year the owner and his part-time employee "are much better prepared for the holiday shopping season. But he admits he still is learning."
"That was a hectic time to step into this role because it's our busiest month of the year," Carithers said. "I was trapped behind the counter selling books as fast as I could.... My taking ownership happened very quickly, but it was the best decision I've ever made.... I had never managed, let alone owned, a retail business in the past, so this was a steep learning curve. But there is nothing else I'd want to be doing. Even after a year, there's not a day that goes by that I don't learn something new. And I appreciate and value that."
Every third Saturday at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore, Munising, Mich., "you can find a gentle Great Dane named Zoey in the children's book section. Children who have difficulties reading are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates. Reading to dogs provides a non-judgmental, comforting, furry friend who 'listens' and takes the pressure off a child as he/she practices reading."
Owner Nancy Dwyer said: "When handler Keena Jones approached me about the possibility of having a reading hour with Zoey at the café, I jumped on it! My own love affair with dogs began just a few years ago; a long overdue childhood rite of passage. Cocoa, a 12-week-old Chocolate Labrador puppy became part of our family and her companionship is like no other."
At the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader:
Shaina Birkhead has been promoted to programming and strategic partnerships director. She was formerly director of programming.
Matthew Poulter has been promoted to membership and marketing director. He was formerly director of membership.
Emma Kantor has been promoted to publicity and digital content manager. She was formerly communications coordinator.
Alexa Frank has been promoted to special projects coordinator. She was formerly office assistant.
The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present by John Pomfret (Holt), a trailer produced by Jennifer Hamblett and Lisa Rinehart.
Today: Carrie Fisher, author of The Princess Diarist (Blue Rider Press, $26, 9780399173592).
CBS This Morning: Alexandra Zapruder, author of Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film (Twelve, $27, 9781455574810). Zapruder is also on Diane Rehm tomorrow.
Good Morning America: Lin-Manuel Miranda, co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution (Grand Central, $45, 9781455539741).
Fresh Air: Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time (Penguin Press, $27, 9781594203985).
Ellen: DJ Khaled, author of The Keys (Crown Archetype, $18, 9780451497574).
Tavis Smiley: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, co-author of "All the Real Indians Died Off": And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Beacon Press, $15, 9780807062654).
Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends: Ainsley Earhardt and Kathryn Cristaldi, authors of Take Heart, My Child: A Mother's Dream (Aladdin, $18.99, 9781481466226).
The Talk: Anna Kendrick, author of Scrappy Little Nobody (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501117206). She will also appear on the Late Late Show with James Corden.
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Kathy Griffin, author of Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index (Flatiron Books, $26.99, 9781250115638). She will also appear tomorrow on the View.
CBS This Morning: Jon Stewart and Chris Smith, authors of The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests (Grand Central, $30, 9781455565382).
Also on CBS This Morning: Neil deGrasse Tyson, co-author of Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour (Princeton University Press, $39.95, 9780691157245).
Ellen: Leah Remini, co-author of Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology (Ballantine, $17, 9781101886984).
Also on Ellen: Lauren Graham, author of Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) (Ballantine, $28, 9780425285176).
Tonight Show: Frank Pellegrino Jr., author of Rao's Classics: More Than 140 Italian Favorites from the Legendary New York Restaurant (St. Martin's Press, $35, 9781250006288).
Observing that the Syfy channel "has made a habit of adapting science fiction and fantasy literature both established (Childhood's End, Hyperion) and contemporary (The Expanse, The Magicians)," io9 reported that the network plans to adapt Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. The 1961 novel "influenced the counterculture and won a Hugo en route to becoming a classic. No further details on the proposed TV series were announced, but we'll be keeping an eye on this one."
The winner of the $75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, administered by McGill University in Montreal, is Thomas W. Laqueur for The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remain (Princeton University Press).
War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 by Michael Kazin (Simon & Schuster, $28 hardcover, 400p., 9781476705903, January 3, 2017)
Michael Kazin is a professor at Georgetown and co-editor of the intellectual leftist magazine Dissent. In his history of the U.S. pacifist movement against involvement in World War I, War Against War, he sympathizes with his subjects. He also expertly conveys the complex and electric prewar political landscape, and the constellation of reasons that many Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, farmers, feminists, left-wing trade unionists, segregationists and liberal immigrants had for banding together in this common cause, and then for breaking apart again.
This was an antiwar movement that Kazin says would not be rivaled until 50 years later, during the Vietnam War. The leaders were not isolationists by any means. Many had close ties to Europe, but they, "like most critics of the war elsewhere in the world, wanted to create a new global order based on cooperative relationships between nation states and their gradual disarmament." And, Kazin says, U.S. involvement may have shortened the war by a year, but it also allowed for the excessively punitive Treaty of Versailles, which in turn "touched off nearly thirty years of genocide, massacres, and armed conflict between and within nations.... The doughboys who helped win the war also made possible a peace of conquerors that stirred resentment on which demagogues and tyrants of all ideological stripes would feed." If we had not entered World War I, he asserts, there would have been no World War II.
The great activist Jane Addams won a Nobel Peace Prize for her consistent opposition to the war. Henry Ford made a "spectacularly ambitious" and naïve attempt to ship pacifists and his wealthy celebrity friends over to negotiate peace in Europe. Woodrow Wilson won a second term based on his anti-interventionism; then, while still professing sympathy for the pacifists, he built up the military and allowed the accumulation of political events to change his mind. Bitter fights in Congress that flirted with physical violence were followed by a 373-50 vote in the House for war, and the controversial institution of the draft.
After the war, the pacifists were in many ways validated by popular opinion and Congressional actions. Kazin touches on how the same arguments on either side continue to play out in U.S. politics today, including the struggle over whether American citizens should reject loyalties to other nations or cultural identities, or embrace "the ethnic pluralism that had the potential to turn the United States into a 'transnational' republic that could become an exemplar of tolerance to the world." --Sara Catterall
Shelf Talker: Michael Kazin details the history of the politically diverse peace movement that resisted U.S. intervention in World War I.