Thrilled to see this terrific in-depth interview with the fabulous Linda Bubon, one of the founders/owners of Chicago indie bookstore stalwart Women & Children First--my own 15-year-old daughter's favorite bookstore, and a linchpin of Chicago's literary life. The very first Chicago event by any Agate author was at WCF, when Jill Nelson read one of the most explicit passages in Sexual Healing (which, if you've never read it, is saying something) during her appearance there, and they've also hosted Alaya Dawn Johnson and probably others I just can't remember right now. Linda and Ann Christopherson, her fellow founder, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the store last year, and it persists as a true adornment of our book culture here.
There are a few sad moments in this piece, the saddest being when Linda recollects a time when there were some 60 independent bookstores in Chicago. Not all of them were great stores, of course, but the ones that have made it and still flourish today are great stores--strong, vital, and deeply connected to their communities. Here's a tip: if you find yourself in one of these stores, whether you're passing by or attending an event--buy something. Buy a book, for yourself or as a present for someone else. Even if you're broke, buy something; buy the cheapest paperback you can find, or a bookmark or a notepad or a pack of gum. Want to keep these stores alive? Spend money there. Tell other people you know to go there and spend money there. It's that simple.