Scanning, categorizing, and stocking thousands upon thousands of books is a pretty time-consuming process. Nevertheless, we’re moving as quickly as we can. We have completed our hiring process. We have some of the best book ninjas in our store — passionate, wonderful people, including some who have worked at Borders and Shaman Drum. We have carpet, lighting, tables, and an office in our basement. Hilary is giddy at the prospect of doing one of those “before” and “after” posts for that once-dungeon of a basement, but more on that later.
A few interesting things have been happening, so here are some tidbits:
– People have already been walking into our store, hoping we are open. This is awesome. For now, we have to sadly say, “We’ll be open in a week or two! Please come back!” The past few weeks we’ve been cleaning, ordering, stocking, and shelving, so from the outside we look functional and open. The notion that we are already picking up foot traffic and people are already walking inside ready to browse books is amazing and wonderful. When we first started this journey, one of our biggest question marks was, “How are we going to get people to know about us the first year?”
– Book ninjas are hired. We have hired three former Borders employees, a Shaman Drum employee, the director of the Great Lakes Independent Books Association, and two Michigan MFA students/graduates. All are passionate. All are experienced. We’re thrilled. We hope we are successful enough in the future to hire even more of the great applicants we had. We are working our butts off to ensure that we’re successful so we can bring on even more.
– Every day people ask, “When will you be open?” And every day we have to say, “Soon!” The thing is this: We are beyond thrilled to be opening our doors to Ann Arbor, but we have to do it right. With any business, it can take some time. We’re ordering books, re-ordering books, asking book yodas in the community which books we should carry. We are tweaking, refining, and adjusting. We have moved sections at least once every day this week. Every day the bookstore grows, changes, and takes on its own life. We have to be ready when we open our doors, but we can’t announce a date until we’re sure everything will work properly, the credit cards will swipe, the books are stocked and placed properly, and everything is screwed-in and bolted down. When we do open, there will be growing pains and chaotic days and learning curves, so we ask patience. Especially since Ann Arbor is used to these great iconic bookstore institutions. We’re in this for the long haul. If you don’t see a book you think we should carry, please say so! Our inventory will grow with time and in a year from now will be streamlined with what the community wants and needs. We’re trying to predict exactly what that is, but until we open, we just don’t fully know.
– Events. We have our first event planned with Keith Taylor, a local University of Michigan professor, poet, and writer. Keith was one of the very first people we met with when we first told some people we were planning on opening a bookstore downtown. Since then, he’s been incredibly supportive. We’re so excited to host Keith for our first-ever reading on April 5th @ 8pm. He will be reading from his new collection, “The Ancient Murrelet”. It will be a magical night for us. (We will be open by then.)
– We also have Kevin Smokler, an author with Ann Arbor roots, coming in on April 10th @ 8pm to read from his latest work, “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons To Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School.” Personally, I’m thrilled about this event. I always re-watch movies, but never books. Hilary is the opposite; she loves to re-read books but never movies. This is a great kick-off event to remind us about some of those classics to rediscover.
-We’re partnering with The Neutral Zone! A few weeks ago, we went to a reading at The Neutral Zone. It was incredible. Energetic. Lively. Engaging. We’re thrilled to announce a partnership with The Neutral Zone to bring an open mic event every month to Literati! The first one will kick off on April 30th @ 8pm. I cannot wait to see and hear what the vibrant artistic community of Ann Arbor comes up with for this series.
-Finally, we have lined up Erin Stead. She, along with her husband Philip Stead, is the genius behind “A Sick Day For Amos McGee,” one of the most beautiful, funny, and touching children’s books I’ve read. The married Ann Arbor team (who live in a 100-year-old converted barn in Kerrytown) won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished children’s picture book. They’re coming to Literati on May 9th @ 6:30pm to launch Erin’s newest book, “If You Want To See A Whale,” which means the community can be the first to receive signed editions from one of the most talented illustrators in the world. We’re ecstatic that Erin chose us to do so.
Lots happening. Lots going on. We hope to continue to build our events program. Right now we’re just focusing on getting open as soon as possible. Then we can move forward.
We’re excited. We’re ready. We’re opening soon. We thank you all for your support. It keeps us going.
mike + hilary