Indie Bookstore Roar
Happy New Year! We’re starting off 2018 with the inaugural Indie Bookstore Roar! Annie Carl who runs The Neverending Bookshop in downtown Bothell, WA has agreed to do our very first roar. I met Annie at Laurie Thompson’s book event for Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!. Here we are together.
I knew the event would be special the moment I stepped through the door
Share the Dream
So, Annie, how did this bookstore come about?
I’ve been in the bookselling industry since I was 15, but I’ve wanted to open my own shop since I was a child. My first job selling books was at Mr. B’s Bookery in my hometown of Kingston, WA. They opened when I was 14, and I pestered the owners, Bill and Shirley until they finally hired me a year later. Years after that I worked as a bookseller at the Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. I loved it there! During that time Bill decided he was ready to sell his bookstore. He offered it to me first. At that point in my life, I wasn’t in a position to commute all the way to Kingston. But it really started the cogs turning, and two and a half years later I opened TNEBS.
What do you love most about your bookstore?
“Everything,” she sighs. Truly though, I love everything about the shop I’ve cultivated in the Bothell community. The bookshelves are unique and pretty cool (I think).
I have to be really selective about the used books I keep on the shelf, so most people don’t even realize the shop is 85 percent used books. I have a small collection of dragons, both stuffed and not, that people have given me since I opened more than two years ago. The shop’s logo is a dragon and that’s been an enduring visual for my customers. I love most that I have a space to spread a love of reading, books, and authors. I think that’s my favorite part of bookstore ownership.
A Mighty Bookstore Roar!
In your own words tell us why independent bookstores are such a vital part of any community.
Bookstores aren’t just a place of retail and profit. They are a place of new ideas and open minds. They welcome everyone in a community – big, small, round, tall, and all in between – to step through and find joy between pages. They allow people to linger over new ideas, and to linger in general. Bookshops are such a unique entity in that they promote an art form that is (usually) not expensive, open to all who are interested, and (usually) doesn’t censor the content of that art. And it’s art that is individual to each and every person who cracks the cover on a book. It’s hard to put a finger on why indie bookstores are so vital, but I think the quote from Jen Campbell says it best: “Bookshops are time machines, spaceships, story-makers, secret-keepers, dragon-tamers, dream-catchers, fact-finders, and safe places.”
A Pride of Programs
For a small bookshop, I’ve packed its calendar full! I make sure the shop participates in all of the Bothell community events. I host local authors almost every weekend, and three book groups meet here monthly.
The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Group meets the first Sunday of the month at 2 p.m.at the bookshop.
In Someone Else’s Shoes Book Group meets the third Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. to discuss books that explore non-Western cultures through literature. Join us to broaden your awareness of the world!
But the one program I’ve started, in conjunction with Libro.FM, is an audiobook craft night Every other week, our group meets and listens to an audiobook for an hour or so. I always post where we are in the book when we stop for the night so others can follow along and join us for a later meeting. I love to knit and I wanted to do some sort of crafting gathering. It didn’t really take off until I added the audiobook element.
We usually spend about 15 minutes before and after chatting and catching up on local gossip. But the majority of the time is spent listening to books and crafting. It’s so much fun!
I love doing author events! Especially as the bookshop’s space is small and perfect for an intimate reading or launch party. It’s also perfect for authors who are just getting started and have only done one or two events (or none!).
For me, a great event is made up of an enthusiastic author and audience. I try to have an event every Saturday and I usually only feature local authors. It’s so wonderful to be able to support people who live in my community!
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from bookstore fans!
Oh gosh, this is a humbling part of the interview. Here’s what a few people have said about TNEBS:
“This is the coziest little bookstore I’ve ever visited! Annie was so sweet and happily took the time to give me some recommendations. Great selection, and wonderfully nerdy conversation. I can’t wait to come back to Bothell to visit!” Kelcey Jo Ainsworth Gorman
“There is always something to discover on the shelves, and if you don’t know what you want to read, Annie the owner has never steered me wrong! Also, the book groups, story times, and author events are fun ways to find new favorites.” Katrina Cohn
One Last Roar
Before we close this Indie Bookstore Roar, Annie, Before we share your links, I want to affirm your newest dream expressed so beautifully on the Northwest Booklover’s blog:
“I’m such a proponent for all kinds of diversity, but it’s a challenge to find my particular brand of high-functioning disabled character within literature. Growing up, I became an avid reader because I was in bed recovering from different surgical procedures. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the books I was reading! But I never saw myself in them. No way is someone going to write a fantasy novel about a wobbly girl who has trouble navigating the supermarket, let alone mountains and caves.
Except, apparently now authors are! I was so floored when several people approached me after the panel to discuss disabled diversity in books. The list of books I came away with wasn’t the longest list ever. But every minority group has to start somewhere. . .
I’m hopeful that in another year, five years, ten years, I’ll be able to stock more than just a shelf of fiction with disabled characters in my store. But that’s what I’m starting with. After the weekend with PNBA and many booksellers and authors, I decided to make some improvements to my bookshop. Chief among them is a shelf specifically for disabled fiction. It will span genres and age ranges.”
Read the rest of Reading While Disabled
Thanks again for the Indie Bookstore Roar, Annie.
NOTE: If you own or work at an Indie Bookstore and would like to roar about your store, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set up an interview.