Allison's Book Bag

Musings Meme: Current Reads #11

Posted on: July 29, 2013

MusingMondaysWhat are you reading right now?
What do you think of it?
Why did you chose it?

BookstoreLittleStoneGapI’m starting and ending my Current Reads for July with books on a similar topic. The first week of July, I wrote about Booked to Die by John Dunning, which features a cop who likes books and who investigates the death of a book scout. That mystery was recommended to me by my husband. With the final week of July here, I’m featuring The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch, which is a true story about novice bookstore owners. This nonfiction book was recommended to me by my dad. The men in my life know my interests well!

People often talk about following their bliss, but few people ever do. Wendy Welch and her husband used to slip hop-away weekends to festivals, fairs, and conferences in between their day jobs. Driving home from those weekend trips, they often engaged in casual banter about what they would do someday. Their conversation generally revolved around a recurring theme: “Someday we’ll give up this madness, settle down, and run a nice bookstore.” Despite this, they normally gave up every opportunity to fulfill that dream. Moreover, when they first visited Big Stone Gap, they still weren’t seriously entertaining the notion. And then they saw the perfect house. Suddenly, they were asking themselves: “What if someday is today?”

My dad and I both really enjoyed The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap. Many of the first chapters are about the challenge of establishing a bookstore. To start-up the bookstore, the Welches had to donate many of their own books to the store inventory. Even then, their shelves looked forlorn and so Wendy began frequenting yard sales. She also resorted to begging from her family for donations. At one point, the couple offered “swap deals” where people could receive credit for bringing in used books. Yet all of the Welches’ efforts seem fruitless, given that the community resisted the idea, flat-out saying the idea was “nuts” and “crazy”. Even so, folks turned up for the Grand Opening. Unfortunately, after most of them used up their credit, they didn’t return. Nor did many new customers arrive. The Welches had to figure out how to promote themselves on a limited budget. Getting the word becomes the subject of many more chapters, which are also an interesting read. When the bookstore becomes a fixture in the community, other issues crop up such as what kind of books to purchase, how to market in the face of e-books and malls, and what to say when it’s clear the reason a customer is trading in books is a family member just died.

Memoirs often sell or flop on the basis of the author’s personality. Wendy Welch is chatty, quirky, and opinionated. I enjoyed hearing her rambles, as well as chuckled or teared up over some of her stories about customers. More than once, I read an excerpt to my husband, because of how much it resonated with me. If you’ve ever thought twice about pursuing a dream, The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap will inspire you. And if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s worth shopping at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap will convince you it is.

To find out more about the bookstore, check out their website and the below video:

What is your current read?

4 Responses to "Musings Meme: Current Reads #11"

Thanks for commenting on my review of My Bookstore by Ronald Rice and leaving me the link to this post. I checked to see if my library had a copy, and all 13 copies are checked out!! I put it on hold though and can’t wait for it to be my turn!

For a different take on bookstores, you might also check out Booked To Die by John Dunning. It’s fiction and a mystery, but the author was a bookstore owner and the story is about book dealers. My husband and I are now reading the entire set.

Here’s my description of it:

As you said, Allison, I really enjoyed The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap.

I’ve started to follow Wendy Welch’s blog: Little Bookstore at Big Store Gap

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