Brilliant Books Readies to Open Second Location

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Michigan’s Brilliant Books will open a second location next month. Co-owners Peter and Colleen Makin are taking over the lease of a storefront in an historic building in Traverse City on October 1. They hope to be selling books by October 17 and will throw a grand opening party in November.

The storefront soon to be transfomed into Brilliant Books' second location.

Peter Makin told BTW that he got into bookselling “completely by accident” about six years ago, when he came back to the U.S. from England, after having sold his London-based marketing recruitment company.

“I needed something to do,” he said. “The building was available, the town didn’t have a bookstore, I like people, and I have an eclectic taste. I also enjoy a challenge. So I became a bookseller.”

In 2007, the Makins opened what Peter described as “a literate, readers’ bookstore” in a 1,600-square-foot space in Suttons Bay, whose year-round population is about 600.

“We’re called ‘Brilliant’ Books as the word Brilliant means something slightly different in U.K. English and American English,” he said. “In the U.K. it means great, wonderful fabulous.  It’s an exclamation.  Here in the U.S. it means intelligent, intellectual.  Brilliant Books is both of those things.”

For their second location, the Makins chose a 3,600-square-foot space in Traverse City, which has a population between 12,000 – 15,000 and many more people coming to work in the city each day.  ”We needed a second location that could be profitable year round,” Makin said, noting that Traverse City has a vibrant culture and is growing fast. “We have the Traverse City Film Festival centered-around the restored State Theatre, the City Opera House, which attracts nationally known acts, and now we’ll have two indie bookstores and three used bookstores downtown.”

One of the ways the Makins have built Brilliant Books’ reputation as a “readers’ bookstore” is via the Surprise Book of the Month Club. A subscriber receives either a year of hardcover or paperback titles personally selected by Makin based on the customer’s responses to a questionnaire about favorite authors, titles, and genres. The store also markets the club as the perfect gift — recipients receive a handpicked, gift-wrapped book delivered each month. In honor of pie season in Northern Michigan, Makin described the book club this way in a recent store e-newsletter: “You get a book selected especially for you, based on your taste. Just like pie — which should be your favorite pie, not mine.”

Brilliant Books is looking for booksellers for its new location. Details are available in this week’s BTW Classifieds.