Monday, July 19, 2010

Come Celebrate Our 50th Anniversary on August 19th!

The folks at The Bookstore are pretty excited. We're getting ready to celebrate our 50th anniversary on August 19th at 7pm, and all of our customers are invited to stop in to join the celebration. Oh, by the way, there's cake, prizes and raffles for free books!

In the meantime, we just thought you might like to hear our story. If you have your own stories or memories you'd like to share, please add a comment below or e-mail us. We'd love to add your stories to the history of the store.

The Bookstore was founded by Vic and Rosamond Du Jardin prior to 1960, but moved to its current storefront at 475 N. Main Street in Glen Ellyn in 1960. The old brick building dates back to 1892, and was originally home to McChesney's General Store. When McChesney's moved out, they left behind an old safe that looks like it belongs in a wild west movie. We still use that safe today, and include it on our historical tours to children and senior citizens. At that time The Bookstore occupied a double storefront, including the space that now houses our neighborhood knitting shop, String Theory.

The Du Jardins were a colorful pair; Rosamond Du Jardin was the author of teen fiction set in the malt shop era, including such titles as Senior Prom, Boy Trouble and Double Date. Vic Du Jardin was an avid reader. According to village legend, if you came in the store and asked Vic for a certain book, he'd interrupt his own reading, put his finger in his book to mark his spot, and point vaguely over to a part of the store, saying "if we've got it, it's over there." He would continue reading until you came to the cash register, at which time he'd put his finger back in his spot in the book, ring up the sale, make change and put your book in a bag, all without losing his place in his book. Although your 21st century Bookstore hopes it offers more helpful service, we are still avid readers with a passion for books, just like the founders.

Jack and Marguerite Rice purchased The Bookstore from the Du Jardins in 1973. The south half of the store was made into a record shop, and The Bookstore was limited to the north half. According to their son David Rice, it was named "The Book Store - M. Rice - Prop. 1973" in order to hearken back to the small town stores his parents had known in their youth. David remembers many New Year's Days spent doing end-of-the-year inventory at the Book Store with his extended family, watching bowl games on a portable TV they'd set up in the store. David speaks fondly of his time spent as co-manager on and off throughout the 1980's, enjoying the camaraderie with fellow booksellers. Camaraderie with fellow readers is still the key to The Bookstore's success over 30 years later.

In 1987, Marguerite Rice was ready to retire and sold the Book Store to Barb and Dwight Reed, who owned it until 1997. In 1997, the Reeds retired to operate another independent bookstore in Frankfort, Michigan. Jane Stroh had been an employee of the bookstore since 1985, and in 1997, she and her husband Tim purchased it from the Reeds. Although the store is known in town as "The Bookstore," its official name is "Just the Bookstore, Inc." I heard that when people would ask Jane for the name of her new business, she would say "The Bookstore," and they would say, "just The Bookstore?" Jane's reply: "Yes, just The Bookstore."

I've always loved the name "Just the Bookstore." It's a little self-deprecating, a little falsely modest; we are, after all, much more than just a bookstore. We'd like to think we're a meeting place, a salon, or a community center. We've encouraged generations of Glen Ellyn children to read. We've employed many smart, bookish teens, and sent them off to success at some of the finest colleges. We've been there for you for 50 years, perhaps counselling you through personal troubles or celebrating your success by recommending just the right book or the perfect poem. We gossip, we chat, we laugh. We make faces at your squirmy babies; we humor your Twilighty teens, and we support your charitable causes. But most of all, we share our love of reading with the village we truly love. And thankfully, for 50 years now, the village has loved us back.

So in honor of all of these wonderful things, The Bookstore has been hosting a 50th anniversary celebration all year long. Every month, we've held a raffle for a $50 gift certificate to The Bookstore. Anyone who spends more than $50 that month is included in the raffle. In honor of its 50th year in Glen Ellyn, The Bookstore was also a key sponsor of the 1st Annual Downtown Glen Ellyn Bookfest, and was responsible for bringing notable authors to our village for the first time for some truly unique literary events. Finally, in a desire to to not only give back to the community but also to promote literacy in Glen Ellyn, The Bookstore has been the proud sponsor of the 50 Hour Readathon, a benefit for the Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center that took place over a 50-hour period in June.

All of the teams and participants in the Readathon are invited to our celebration, where awards will be announced and prizes will be presented. The categories include: Team Spirit Award, Most Voracious Reader, Most Voracious Readathon Team, and Most Money Raised (Team). Even if you didn't participate in the Readathon, we hope you can make it to the party to help us thank those who did.

Please join us! Call (630) 469-2891 or e-mail us at to RSVP. If you have your own stories to add, please comment below.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Bookstore Blogs

Starting a bookstore blog has been one of the best things our bookstore ever could have done to meet the challenge of the digital age. Our little bricks and mortar store suddenly had a voice that could be heard far away from the store. You used to have to wait for customers to drop in during business hours and browse. We'd take the time to chat about our staff picks or the latest hot book club choices, and hopefully sell armfuls of books to eager readers. And of course we still do that every single day. But thanks to our blog, we can also have those conversations while our customers are in their jammies, on the couch or on the road.

Our main goal has always been to communicate with our customers -- we link to the blog in every customer e-newsletter - and to bring to them a focus on books and events that we don't have time for in a short newsletter. But we've also used our blog to connect to the wider world of bloggers, readers, authors and fellow indie booksellers out there, and we've learned that it makes us better booksellers. We're more up to date on new releases, we hear the buzz from other bloggers, and we make friends and connections that help us put good books into the hands of good customers.

So, in recognition of what blogging has and can yet do for our bookstore, we are entering our blog in the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Niche Award Category for Bookstore Blogs. It's hard to choose which posts are our favorite (isn't it like admitting you have a favorite child?) but here's the list:

1. General Bookstore Post #1: What Your Indie Will Do For You (6/30/10)

2. General Bookstore Post #2: Introducing: Book Blogger Bookmarks at The Bookstore (3/3/10)

3. Book Recommendation #1: Remarkable Creatures, Remarkable Women (1/17/10)

4. Book Recommendation #2: April Picks on the Staff Pick Shelf at The Bookstore (5/1/10)

5. Book Recommendation #3: Local Author's Latest Book, Stray Affections, Is Featured In Bookstore Window (11/27/10). (In case the judges consider this post more of a general bookstore post than a book recommendation post, I will offer one more book recommendation post for consideration.)

6. Book Recommendation #3.5: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow (2/15/10)

We're really looking forward to being a part of this year's BBAW. Here's wishing good luck and great reading to the judges and all the other book bloggers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Staff Pick: The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

Our customers probably saw Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst on the sidebar of our July newsletter under "Staff Picks," but I wanted to tell you how it got there and why we love it as much as we do.

As you can see, the picture on the cover is beautiful, mysterious and sad, which makes it absolutely perfect for this book. It looks like a little boy is lost at sea, standing on a life preserver, looking away from the viewer. That's how the book starts: there is a grown boy who needs to be saved, but he's looking away.

There are many wonderful layers to this book. In one way, it's the story of Octavia Frost's effort to save her 27 year-old son Milo, from whom she's been estranged for four years. Milo is a young rock star accused of murdering his girlfriend in their MTV-style Hollywood home. But it's not just murder charges from which Milo needs to be saved. He needs to be saved from the pain of a family tragedy that occurred when he was a boy, from the wounds of being a survivor in a fractured family, and from the harm that more recently came from his own mother's words. Milo was deeply hurt by the way Octavia described a fictional family in one of her previous novels; it came too close to being an autobiographical account of their own family tragedy. Parkhurst reveals Octavia and Milo's true family history so slowly and tenderly that when you finally learn what happened, you feel like you've suffered their loss as well. You'll "get" Milo and you'll want to save him too.

But in the meantime there's a mystery to solve, aging rockers to meet, and most importantly, books to rewrite. Even before the murder, Octavia had sensed that she wanted to rewrite her life and to reach out to Milo. She had just rewritten the endings of her previous novels in a genre-bending new manuscript called Nobodies Album, named for a musical game she and Milo used to play. As if lifted from Octavia's imaginary manuscript, there are sections in this book for each of Octavia's previous novels that include the title, the jacket copy, the published ending and Octavia's revised ending.

For the reader, these fascinating faux-novels can work like complimentary short stories that reveal even deeper truths about Octavia and Milo's past. You'll find yourself playing games with these stories-within-the-story: which one is your favorite? Which one had the best revised ending? Would it change anything if Milo would read the revised endings, or is Octavia's apparent change of heart enough? Can you ever really rewrite your life?

My favorite story was The Human Slice. It could stand alone as a haunting short story about parental regret, loss and memory. A whole family suffers when baby Jonah dies in a horrible, preventable tragedy. Later, a strange new disease strikes their community and causes selective memory loss, so that those who are stricken are unable to remember sad events. Is it a gift to be relieved of the pain of remembering Jonah, or is it a loss? If you're like me, that question will haunt you for a long time to come.

The unique combination of these highly original faux-stories with a rock-star murder mystery and a lovely tale of mother-son reconciliation makes for a fabulously original, deeply satisfying read. Please stop in and pick up Nobodies Album before your own summer is nothing but a memory.