We are back with even more bookstores whose efforts to reach, connect, and comfort quarantined book-lovers have not gone unnoticed. Here are more resources for book-loving families, from some of the Agate team’s favorite hometown bookshops!
Blue Willow Bookshop – Houston, TX\
Tucked away on the corner of Memorial and Dairy Ashford, Blue Willow Bookshop has served Houston-area readers, including Agate Publishing Intern Marielle Issa, since 1996. This beloved bookshop, home to children’s books, fantasy, and non-fiction alike, closed its doors to in-person business on March 24th and moved quickly to digitize its programming for readers on lockdown. Blue Willow has continued to fulfill online orders, even offering a hotline for personalized recommendations (shoot them a message at [email protected]!). Young readers can tune in to virtual storytime on Facebook, attempt the Blue Willow Reading Streak Challenge, or opt in to a one-year subscription of hand-picked, ribbon-wrapped books. For even more activities, Blue Willow has assembled its own up-to-date list of stay-at-home literary resources for the bored and book-loving.
Literati Bookstore– Ann Arbor, MI
Winner of the 2019 Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year, Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor is remembered fondly by University of Michigan alum (and Agate Publicity Manager) Jacqueline Jarik. Literati was founded in 2013 by Michigan natives Mike and Hilary Gustafson, whose commitment to whimsy, localism, and old-fashioned book culture has grown their bookstore into the fixture it is today. Since closing to the public on March 13, Literati has continued to process book orders online and announced the launch of At Home with Literati, a digital events series including author talks, a Literati book club, and brunch with booksellers to chat and solicit recommendations. Book subscriptions are available through the Literati website, and make great gifts for a social-distance celebration! We here at Agate have a soft spot for Literati Insisto, a subscription program whose subscribers receive paperbacks from independent presses.
STAFF PICK: Jacqueline recommends Cooking with Literati, a running series on the blog where Literati employees participate in cooking challenges.
Book People – Austin, TX
Dubbed “best bookstore in Austin!” by Associate Manager of Content Development Marilyn Isaacks, Book People has served book lovers in Texas since its opening in 1970. Though closed to in-person business, Book People has moved its vast bookshop online, fulfilling orders for graphic novels, thrillers, young adult and non-fiction books alike. Readers looking to diversify their to-be-read lists can choose from an array of Book Subscription Programs, or sign up for a themed Book Club, be it New & Noteworthy or Required Reading Revisited. Don’t miss Virtual Storytime on Instagram live and be sure to tune in to Book People’s regularly scheduled live author events, including a chat with All Adults Here author (and indie bookstore owner!) Emma Straub on May 17.
Pilsen Community Books – Chicago, IL
Pilsen Community Books, a Pilsen neighborhood staple, is the youngest bookstore on our list, having relaunched in March 2020 by career booksellers Mandy Medley, Tom Flynn, and Katharine Solheim. A city-wide shutdown in the midst of the relaunch did little to dampen their spirits; Pilsen Community Books’s full inventory is browsable from the bookstore’s website, replete with staff picks and reading lists for readers of all kinds. Also on the website is a list of virtual events, including author talks and Q&As, held via livestream and free of charge to attendees. Don’t miss Haymarket Books in discussion with Toni Gilpin and Cristina Groeger, author of The Long Deep Grudge.
STAFF PICK: Director of Instructional Design and Content Development Kate Patla relays this message from a friend: “Well, first of all, the shop itself is gorgeous! They host author talks, music, and book club (all pre-quarantine things). They are involved in activism and the local community. They carry reasonably priced used books but can also order any new book for you. And they ship!”
*Pictured: a personalized delivery from Pilsen Community Books
Left Bank Books – St. Louis, MO
Left Bank Books, the oldest and largest indie bookstore in St. Louis, is a favorite of both Agate President Doug Seibold and Content Development Manager Marta Evans. Though Left Bank Books is temporarily closed to in-person business, co–owners Kris Kleindienst and Jarek Steele’s thoughtfully curated book selection is available to browse and buy from online. Always a hub for public events, Left Bank Books has a full calendar of virtual programming on their website — from a reading group discussion of Road Dahl’s The Witches to a livestream conversation with Pete Buttigieg — and an array of book clubs to join. Not sure where to start? Browse this list of staff picks from Left Bank Books booksellers.
STAFF PICK: from Agate President Doug Seibold: “[Left Bank Books] was there when I arrived in St. L 40 years ago this fall, and it’s still going strong, long after all the other indie stores I frequented disappeared, and owner Kris Kleindienst may be the doyenne of American bookselling.”