All Booked Up: A Declaration of Independents

Browsing Printer's Row Booksellers

Just this side of hoarding, I collect books. First editions. Modern fiction. A handful of children’s classics: Alice in Wonderland(s), vintage Dr. Seuss and all-and-anything Sendak, where the wild things are.  Goes without saying, I browse with the best of them.  As for indie bookshops, I know and love a slew of them across the country.  A few honorable mentions, as follows:

  • The Odyssey Bookshop: Independent Since 1963.  I’ve never set foot in the store, because I’ve never been to Hadley, Massachusetts.  But I’m a devoted subscriber to the shop’s Signed First Edition Club - whereby I receive books of note each month.  Located in the five-college region of western MA, across the street from Mount Holyoke College, the Odyssey gets its share of celebrity-writer traffic, affording spot-on book selections and signed first novels of emerging stars. Recent acquisitions include: The Art of Fielding (Harbach), The Marriage Plot (Eugenides)  The Night Circus (Morgenstern), State of Wonder (Ann Patchett) The Year of the Flood (Atwood), Chronic City (Lethem) and Matterhorn (Marlantes)

  • Printer’s Row Fine and Rare Books,  715 South Dearborn Street, Chicago. Specializing in 16th through 20 Century American and British Literature - mostly first editions. Displayed in elegant oak cases. All under lock and key.  Get past the first stand-offish impression of owner John LaPine, (who deplores, if not banishes the use of cell phones in his store)  and you discover a man obsessed with his books, but most knowledgable and generous in discussing them with you. 

  • Beckham’s Bookshop, 228 Decatur Street, New Orleans.  Two floors of current fiction, out-of-print editions, rare secondhand books and thousands of LPs. Yum!

  • Kaleidoscope Books and Collectibles, 200 North Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI.  A favorite spot of mine in Ann Arbor, where there are many fine bookstores from which to choose. Whimsical.  And magical.  Here’s a book store stuffed with the “stuff” of childhood memories: vintage children’s  books, science fiction, sports memorabilia and toys, not to mention an impressive collection of classic fiction.  Owner Jeffrey Pickell is welcoming, but restrained, often knocking his own prices down for earnest collectors. 

Photos: Vhenoch
Illustrations: (Charles van Sandwyk)
Thanks for browsing.


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