Common Good Books, now Next Chapter Booksellers, in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been purchased by longtime customer and avid reader Nick Ballas. Store founder Garrison Keillor, known for his role as host of A Prairie Home Companion, put the store on the market in January.
“I have been a customer since the store first opened in Blair House in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood,” said Ballas. “I have always been impressed by the store’s staff, particularly their recommendations and their dedication to supporting books, and the curated selection of titles.”
Next Chapter will be Ballas’ first foray into the book industry. Prior to moving back to the United States, Ballas was based in Singapore and ran a regional cable manufacturing business, he told Bookselling This Week. He has also lived and worked in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Boston. “I have a background in business,” he said, “but not in the book industry.”
“I have been an avid reader, book lover, and indie bookstore enthusiast most of my life,” Ballas added, noting that he knows firsthand what an independent bookstore means to a city. “When the opportunity to support [Common Good Books] came along, I jumped at the chance.”
Over the short term, Ballas said, customers will see some changes at Next Chapter, including the new name, a new logo, and new paint, but customers will still find the same great books and great booksellers. In the long term, the store will ramp up its event programming by finding ways to host larger events in the store to support the vibrant literary scene of the Twin Cities.
The store’s name change represents all that he wants the store to be, Ballas added. “Next Chapter means a change in the story, but it’s also a continuation. An opportunity to move forward and in new directions. It is also a ‘next chapter’ in my personal story as a bookstore owner,” he said. “We have something special here, and I’m delighted to be able to keep this store here for St. Paul readers.”