A couple weeks back, Gavin Kovite and Chris Robinson, authors and best buddies, stopped by the bookstore to say hello. The two graciously signed a stack of the novel that they wrote together, War of the Encyclopeadists, and then posed for some pictures with synchronicity and panache.
Gavin and Chris are both originally from Seattle, Washington, but they’ve been in Detroit for the last month researching their next project, a novel which they plan to write together, again.
A few weeks ago, we set up a photo booth as part of the first-ever Independent Bookstore Day. The idea was that customers would take a photograph holding up the “book that changed their life.”
Below is a collage of customers holding up life-changing books. Vonnegut was a popular choice. (Including my own.) Others included A Sand County Almanac, The Elements of Style, Harry Potter, Where The Sidewalk Ends, Infinite Jest, and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Soon, we’ll hang these photos in the store so customers can better see these life-changing recommendations.
As we wrap up our first full calendar year, and the holiday season is behind us, we’ve had a chance to reflect. 2014 had so many great moments, unpredictable and wonderful, it was difficult remembering our favorites. Many of the moments are behind-the-scenes, like when Hilary was awarded a certificate by the Ann Arbor Police for stopping a robbery outside, or when we hosted a variety of authors on Small Business Saturday to work as “volunteer booksellers.”
Here are a few of the bigger moments that helped define this past year, though there are certainly too many to list:
Over the past two years, through our personal addiction to well-brewed caffeine, we formulated a friendship with Sandy, who owns the excellent cult-favorite The Espresso Bar. We both opened around the same time, and we quickly became fans of each other’s businesses. I remember the first month Literati opened and, in need of coffee, I walked into The Espresso Bar and saw a Literati bookmark taped to their coffee grinder. Since then, we have collaborated: We ran a ticketed Coffee Tasting event in our store, offered Espresso Bar coffee during our weekend-long One Year Anniversary Party, and we have each spent a lot of time in each other’s businesses. We have also watched each other’s respective business needs grow: When Sandy first opened The Espresso Bar, it was never really intended to be more than a pop-up shop. When we imagined readings on our lower level, we didn’t imagine how events would close off half our inventory (non-fiction) half the evenings we were open. We realized we shared one commonality: We both needed more space.
There was a moment during last June’s David Sedaris reading when I looked around and thought, “Is this real?”
Many people thought we were nuts opening a bookstore in a city where a bunch of bookstores closed down. And yet, here was this wonderful author who drew 350+ people (including people who waited outside at 2:30am for tickets) and was in the prime of his career reading at the store. It was a moment when I looked around and thought, “Hey, maybe we can actually do this.” Until that point, it had been go-go-go. We hadn’t had a chance to reflect, constantly moving, scanning, shelving… Then, we finally stopped and simply listened to David, my heart swelled with an immeasurable amount of thanks for everyone who had helped us get this far, this quickly.
One year ago, we signed a lease to open an independent bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor. At that point, we had been searching for a space for roughly 6 months, with a few hiccups along the way. But we had three storage units filled with Borders bookshelves that we were planning on re-purposing, we had a business loan in place, and finally, we had a lease.
With one stroke of ink, our lives quickly accelerated from 15 mph to 90mph. Since signing the lease, we worked around the clock to try and establish ourselves downtown. We opened March 31st, and it’s hard to believe we’ve only been open 9 months. Just yesterday, I was talking to someone about how we’re planning a one year anniversary party/weekend. And she said, “Wow, it seems like it happened so fast!”
This year has been filled with many, many ups, and a few downs. But who wants to focus on the downs? Here are the best moments of 2013, a year of many firsts, learning experiences, frustrations, and joys…
NEW HOURS: We are open at 10am the rest of this month! We may continue staying open at 10am in 2014 if it’s successful, but at least for the holidays, we are open earlier! So, for any late holiday shoppers out there, we’ll be here at 10am!