Imagine a big old Victorian Inn at the center of an adorable New England village. The inside is filled with books, beautifully displayed in every nook and cranny. The space is buzzing with energy — lots of people (but not too many) browsing and chatting. There’s electricity in the air, and a cafe with home-baked snacks and steaming coffee. People come to hang out and share ideas, hear authors read from their books and partake in conversation that is stimulating and entertaining. The ambiance is comfortable and inviting, relaxed but engaging.
This little slice of heaven actually exists in the real world. I’ve sent authors there many times over the years and always heard reports back that it’s a very special place. They’ve won awards for their fabulousness, including the bookseller of the year.
But nothing I’d ever heard could describe the magic I felt when I walked through the front door of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT last Saturday. I was there to speak on a panel with Bob Miller and David Black and moderated by Joann Davis about the future of book publishing.
As soon as I walked into the store, the pressing issues about the future of book publishing — pricing and ebooks, DRM, the kindle, the nook, returns and advances — faded to the background. This was a place of community and ideas. Northshire Bookstore felt like a quality of life issue, and I couldn’t help but feel like that’s been muffled in the conversation about the future of our industry.
I took a mental picture before I left. If you love books, you’ve got to put Northsire Bookstore on the list of places you must visit. Seriously, it’s a destination bookstore.
Here’s a passage from their business plan that captures the essence:
We see the Northshire Bookstore as a resource promoting the
stimulation, development, improvement, or refinement
mind, emotions, interests, manners, skills, taste, and knowledge
of the people who make us part of their community.
We operate from a belief that truth comes in many forms,
and exposure to diversity is healthy.
We seek to serve in a way that offers people the tools to
nurture a more complete and comprehensive view of life,
inclusive of art, morals, science, and religion/faith/spirituality,
as an integrated whole.
In our workplace we seek to integrate considerations that the
traditional workplace focuses on, behavior and systems,
with consideration of
our colleague’s emotions and values and general welfare.
See more photos from Saturday here.