Four Bookstores Celebrate Milestone Birthdays

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BookPeople Turns 40

BookPeople will mark its 40th anniversary on November 11, and the Austin, Texas, landmark will be celebrating during the entire month with the sale of limited edition 40th anniversary T-shirts (proceeds will benefit local schools), appearances by Condoleezza Rice, Jeff Kinney, and many other authors, as well as a party on Saturday, November 13.

The store, which opened on November 11, 1970 as Grok Books, changed its name to BookPeople in 1984. In 1995, BookPeople moved to its current location at 6th and Lamar with the support of 25 investors and an active board of directors. At the time of its re-opening, BookPeople became the largest bookstore in Texas with over 40,000 square feet of selling space and laid claim to having the largest selection of book titles in any bookstore nationwide.

BookPeople is a founding member of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, and BookPeople’s CEO, Steve Bercu, serves as AIBA president.

In 2005, BookPeople was honored as Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, and it has won the Austin Chronicle Best Bookstore in Austin award for the last 20 years running.

Rainy Day Books Marks Its 35th Throughout Fall

The official 35th birthday of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas, is November 4. “We actually began our celebration in September with our fall season of author events, which kicked off with Jonathan Franzen, Terry McMillan, and Diana Gabaldon, and has since included, among others, Richard Rhodes, Jan Karon, and Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau,” said co-owner Vivien Jennings. “We will continue the celebration through December with John Gray, the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, Joyce Carol Oates, David Eisenhower, Condoleezza Rice, Clive and Dirk Cussler, former President George W. Bush, Kate Morton, and NPR’s Michele Norris.”

About the extended celebration, Jennings said, “We believe that the best way to celebrate with our customers and our community is to give them a special season of Rainy Day Books experiences with their favorite authors.”

“I opened Rainy Day Books on November 4, 1975 in a 450-square-foot space that was the former Fairway Police Department,” said Jennings.  “The closet was the former jail! A year later I moved around the corner on the main street and did business there in a 1,250-square-foot space for the next 22 years. In 1997, I moved to the landmark anchor position in the [same shopping] center, to 2,500 square feet with a 3,000-square-foot basement used to stage all our off-site events.”

Jennings met her partner, Roger Doeren, when he was a customer in the store. “We fell in love in 1994, and he joined the company in 2000. So now I have a dream life at home and at work.”

“Our business has changed a lot in 35 years, and though it is very volatile now, I still love the challenge,” said Jennings. “I am very fortunate facing that challenge, because Roger (who has an engineering background) is a technology genius, and my son, Geoffrey, who joined us a few years ago, has a law degree and an MBA in marketing, reads about two to three books a day, and, thankfully for me (at 65), I can leave the twittering to him.

“Although the book is evolving into a variety of formats, the book is very much alive and well at Rainy Day Books!”

In 2009, Rainy Day Books was voted Best Independent Bookstore by the readers of KC Magazine and was honored with a Top 25 Under 25 Award (for businesses employing fewer than 25 employees) by KC Small Business Magazine.

Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop Holds 25th Anniversary Party

When Judy and Byron Nelson built a location for their children’s bookstore, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop, in La Verne, California, they made it as inviting to kids as possible. On October 17, Mrs. Nelson’s combined its 25th anniversary party with an author appearance by Laura Numeroff. The store’s website announced, “Since Mrs. Nelson’s is celebrating its 25th anniversary and Laura Numeroff (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) has a brand-new birthday book out (Otis & Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever), we thought we should have a party together!”

Mrs. Nelson’s opened in 1985 in a 1,200-square-foot space in nearby Covina. Several years later, the Nelsons moved the store to a 6,000-square-foot location they built on a busy street that links the historic downtowns of three older cities, La Verne, San Dimas, and Claremont.

Of the store’s 35,000 titles, middle-grade fiction is the biggest category, followed by picture books, and easy chapter books. State-driven curricula also play a role in Mrs. Nelson’s book selections, which meet the needs of neighborhood teachers and parents who are home-schooling their children.

In 2009, Mrs. Nelson’s was honored with the Women's National Book Association 2009 Pannell Award for its outstanding work at bringing books and young people together.

In celebration of Mrs. Nelson’s 25th anniversary, the bookstore and its publisher partners are donating books to local school libraries.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop Celebrates 20 Years

Mystery Lovers Bookshop will celebrate 20 years of bookselling this Halloween. Richard Goldman and Mary Alice Gorman opened the bookstore on October 31, 1990. For the store’s birthday, they’ll take 20 percent off any hardcover book, hold a 10-cent book sale, tell ghost stories, and offer free cappuccino and “sweet treats for all.”

“We opened up because this was a category of fiction that was extremely popular,” said Gorman. “We intended to intensify in the genre and be competitive with other bookstores no matter how big they got. And I think our success has been a testament to that.”

The owners like to point out that when Mystery Lovers opened, “Amazon was just a river.” Since then, however, in addition to the challenges presented by online book retailers, many chain bookstores have opened in the area and Mystery Lovers continues to thrive.

On October 31, in addition to marking Mystery Lovers’ 20th anniversary, Goldman and Gorman will be celebrating the Raven Award presented to them in April by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition of their outstanding achievement and contributions in the mystery field.