Visiting the Indies Chapter Six: Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens, MI

Back in Chapter Three, I participated in Small Business Saturday by supporting independent book seller Used on New Books & More in Mount Clemens.  In 2013, author Sherman Alexie encouraged writers to go out and support the independent book sellers.  Used on New Books & More was my closest, hometown book store, a block over from my law office.

This year, I spent a couple of hours at Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens.  The owner, Lisa Taylor, and her husband Davey with his partner business, Weirdsville Records, outgrew the little space on New Street and in August moved a block over to the larger 61 Macomb Street storefront in downtown Mount Clemens.  The move also places the store on the same block as my law office.  Too convenient for this book addict.
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It was another enjoyable afternoon, which sounds redundant because time in a book store is synonymous with enjoyment.

(The guy below had my back the entire time)

A couple of book events coming up in Macomb County


I’ll be signing books at Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens on Small Business Saturday – November 29, 2014 – from Noon to 2PM.  Come on out and support small business!

Paperback Writer is located at:
61 Macomb
Mount Clemens, MI  48043

Then, on Thursday, December 4th, I’ll be at the Chesterfield Library for the Local History Book Sale, from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM.


The Chesterfield Library is located at:
50560 Patricia Ave.
Chesterfield, MI  48047

Borders Memorial Library and “The Y in Life” as art

I’ve recently written about my favorite book stores – those that carry the latest titles as well as used, rare and old book stores.  But one book store was missing from that lot, because it has been missing from the bookish landscape since 2011 – Borders.


With its demise, I’ve discovered all these wonderful book stores I might not have otherwise.  Borders was my oasis.  My bookish paradise.  Since the early 1990’s, when the Novi store opened, before it became a massive franchise that was big but not too big to fail, it was the place that fostered my reading and writing hungers.

When they closed, I took advantage of it.  If there would be no Borders for me to retreat to any more, to peruse and feel at home in, then I was going to create the space in my home.  I picked up Borders shelves, Borders signs, Borders accessories.  And I was going to turn a room in my house into my Borders Memorial Library.

First, I needed the walls painted the right Borders color.  This red did the trick.


I thought I was set, but upon learning about a treasure trove of old Borders store and office fixtures, I completed the room – or at least as it is now.


Upon entry is the noticeable Borders rug, with a Borders shopping basket.  The shelves – all from Borders’ stores – holding my library.  Straight ahead on the tall shelf is my collection of Borders Classics.  Leather bound editions, hard cover editions, and soft cover, all published by Borders’ State Street Press in Ann Arbor.


The shelf with the glass doors holds my collection of works by writer W. Somerset Maugham and the writings of A. Edward Newton, a legendary book collector from the early part of the 20th Century.

And yes, the framed poster is the promotion for the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows at Borders.

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The tall shelf in the corner of the above photo now houses my signed editions.

The chair, from the cafe area of the Novi store.

This is my Borders escape.  My retreat.  And with the electric typewriter there, a place to bang out some thoughts when I have them.


Borders, the business, the book store, may be gone.  But its memory and essence remains a part of my existence.


At the Ann Arbor Art Fair this summer, I came upon the booth of Sarah Bean.  Her artistic talent was in book carving.  She would take your favorite book and turn it into a piece of art.

I know.  At first, a part of me cringed.  How could one take a knife to a book and carve it?  But looking at the display of her work, I was intrigued.  I went back to Ann Arbor the next day, a copy of “The Y in Life” in hand.  I turned it over for her to perform her magic.

Today in the mail the carving arrived.  Framed and beautifully done, it now hangs on the wall outside my office, where I can see it constantly.  “The Y in Life” is now both a literary work of art, and a graphic work of art.

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You can see more of Sarah’s work at her website, “The Art And Poems Of Sarah Bean.”

Ten favorite used, rare, and old book stores


Recently, I wrote about Ten favorite book stores, with the caveat that their main revenue source is the sales of new books.  This entry is for my favorite used, rare, and old book stores.  These stores provide the service of recycling books that have been read and enjoyed with others – some being works where rarity and historical relevance make them valuable.

As in the independent book store list, this list is in alphabetical order.

Argosy Books – New York, NY


In New York, there are many rare and old booksellers.  Some occupy a studio, which you have to know what you’re looking for because there is no browsing like one would in a conventional book store.


Others lease a larger retail space.  Bauman Books was spectacular, however when I pulled a random novel off the shelf and saw the $4,500 price tag, I knew the place was way outside my budget.


Argosy was different.  Yes, they have valuable books beyond my financial reach.  But they also have a basement where old and rare books were within my budget.  This balance made Argosy my favorite old and rare book store in New York City.

Aunt Agatha’s -Ann Arbor, MI

Aunt Agatha’s New & Used Mystery, Detection, and True Crime Books is a store specializing in the genre of crime.  Though they carry new mystery titles, the store houses a large inventory of used mystery novels.  It is also a stop for mystery writers on their book tours.

The Bookie Joint – Traverse City, MI


Downtown Traverse City has two excellent book stores within a couple blocks of each other on Front Street.  On Union Street is a delightful used book store called The Bookie Joint.  Good selection, heavy with romance and mystery, I can usually find something I haven’t found anywhere else.

Dawn Treader Book Shop – Ann Arbor, MI


No stroll through downtown Ann Arbor is complete without wandering the rows of shelves at the Dawn Treader Book Shop.  Peruse the abundance of used old books in every category imaginable.  Admire the rare and collectible books locked in the showcases.  A book lover leaving here empty-handed is a sin.

Half Price Books – Florence, KY (and other locations)


I can only comment on the Florence, KY location, as I understand there a quite a number of these franchises around the US.  Good selection of used books, coupled with some rare and old tomes.  They also sell used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and comic books. I list this with some trepidation.  The thought of franchising the sales of used books sends a shudder through me as I think about the used book, small business owner potentially displaced by this franchising.  It is a place to visit when I’m visiting my sister and her family in the Cincinnati area.

Housing Works – New York, NY


I loved this place in New York.  Stocked through donations, staffed by volunteers, the proceeds from the sales of the books and cafe go to the Housing Works nonprofit organization which works towards the end of homelessness and AIDS through advocacy and providing healing services.  The cafe even stocks beer and wine.  A very cool place for books and hanging out.

John King Books – Detroit, MI & Ferndale, MI

We are blessed here in the Metro Detroit area with the legendary and most awesome used book store in the world – John King Books.  The four-floor former glove factory is a world of books from the recent present to the past.  A separate rare book room is available by appointment only (one day, I’m going to make an appointment).  If that’s not enough, there is a second location just north of the Wayne State University campus, and a third location on Woodward just south of Nine Mile Road in funky Ferndale.  This is a must-stop destination for any bibliophile and plan on spending hours there.

Landmark Books – Traverse City, MI

Located in the historic Traverse City State Hospital, Landmark Books is home to a fine collection of old and rare books.

Paperback Writer – Mount Clemens, MI
Weirdsville Records – Mount Clemens, MI

Used books and vinyl records, and a whoooole lot of weird stuff!  This is one of my favorite places.  Full disclosure – I’m biased.  It used to be called Used on New Books over on New Street a block away from my office.  Now it is on Macomb Street, less than a block from my office!  Featured on the Emmy Award winning Under the Radar Michigan, Dave and Lisa Taylor run a cool shop in the heart of the Clem.  Lisa was a Borders Book Store manager for years, so you know the book selection is going to be awesome.  Media savvy Dave is a member of The Amino Acids band, and hosts The Sir Graveson Show.  Here are a couple samples of commercials for their shop (back when they were Used on New)

Under the Radar Michigan piece:

They even carry “The Y in Life.”


This is my hometown book store.

The Strand – New York, NY


I’m cheating with this one.  Eighteen miles of books, and probably the majority of them are new titles.  However I’ve included this store here because the basement level of this establishment is stocked with a massive number of used books, and the top floor is host to a vast collection of old and rare volumes.  This is the ultimate all-in-one book store for the reader, writer, and collector.  The only downside?  No seating.  You can spend hours within browsing, and every minute it will be on your feet.

Books.  Yes, I love them.  New, used, old, rare, each contain a world that has been diligently toiled over by a writer in seclusion, and sold by a seller who appreciates the art form who also dives into the pages along with his/her customers/readers to journey into the hearts and minds of characters that go through the metaphorical heartaches and challenges of the world we live in, giving us a sense that we are not alone.  It is quite powerful what a bound collection of pages with words printed on them can do.

Visiting the Indies Chapter Five: 16th Annual Writers on the River, Monroe, MI

On November 9, 2014, I was one of 38 authors at the 16th Annual Writers on the River event held at the Ellis Library and Reference Center in Monroe, MI.


It was a nice event.  Set-up began at 10:30, and authors and members of the library were treated to light lunch prior to opening the doors to the public.  I enjoyed a number of conversations held with other authors and readers, and from my table I also had a nice view of the small river behind the library.  It was also nice spending time with one of my mentors, Kathleen Ripley Leo, who was selling her first novel,  a YA fantasy titled “The Seamless Universe.”

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It is a pleasant experience to meet readers who have an interest in local authors, and visit the library that hosted the event for the community.  It was my first visit to this part of Michigan, having only driven through it en route to somewhere south.  Thank you, Monroe County Library System.


Ten favorite book stores

I saw this article on the Condè Nast Traveler website listing 11 Mega Bookstores We Love.  I’m a bit of a book store connoisseur myself, so I thought I’d do something similar.

My criteria is simple: they must be book stores I have physically set foot in, and their main revenue is derived by the sales of new titles.  This criteria would eliminate John King, where Condè Nast Traveler included it.  That’s okay because in a forthcoming entry I’ll list ten of my favorite used/rare/old bookstores as well.

The list is not ranked, but in alphabetical order – which also seems appropriate because I can’t claim a single “favorite” book store.


Book Beat – Oak Park, MI

For over thirty years, Book Beat has been Detroit’s premiere Indie bookseller.  Maneuvering through the narrow spaces between the shelves, it is a browser’s paradise.  Too many times I’ve gone into this store with a single book in mind and discovered more.  Author visits are frequent.  It’s a hip, Detroit cornerstone of art and literary delight.

The Book Loft of German Village – Columbus, OH


There’s more to Columbus, Ohio than Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC.  The Book Loft is a huge, two-story building with thirty-two rooms of books.  It’s like wandering through a mansion of books.  They do have a map so that you don’t get lost, but getting lost in this place is half the fun.  Book lovers should plan on spending a few hours here.

Brilliant Books – Traverse City, MI


I started visiting Traverse City annually for the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan conference in 2008.  One year, this classy book store popped up, opening its doors the week I was there.  The sales force is knowledgeable and friendly.  Signed editions are available, some of which I kicked myself for not having picked up at the time.  They have a Surprise Book of the Month club where, for a single payment, they will send you one book a month that, from what I’ve heard, customers love.  They offer a membership, which, if you are voracious like me, will pay for itself in no time.

Horizon Books – Traverse City, MI


I am writing this blog entry in the lower level of this store.  That is how comfortable it feels to be in Horizon Books.  And what could be more special than a book store open from 7AM to 11PM every day.


Since I’ve been coming to Traverse City and writing in their lower level, other groups have met including a knitting group, a mass of Mahjong players, a book club, and Occupy Traverse City.  Friday nights there is live music by local artists.  And books.  Lots of books.  All the new stuff on the main and upper floor; bargain books and magazines in the basement with the cafe.

Literati Book Store – Ann Arbor, MI

A little over a year old, Literati has filled the void left by the closure of Borders in downtown Ann Arbor.  Fiction on the main floor, nonfiction below ground, they are adding a cafe on the second floor.  Awesome atmosphere and host to many authors on tour.

McNally Jackson – New York, NY


My summer trip to New York City introduced me to this pleasant, two-story book store, where literature is sorted by countries, not en masse, alphabetical order by author.  One element that impresses me in a book store is its writer’s reference section, which McNally Jackson was well stocked.  Perhaps this is because they offer book publishing services through their in-store print-on-demand service.

New Horizons Books – Roseville, MI

This makes the list by virtue of being the closest independent book store carrying new titles to my residence.  In business for over thirty years, it does serve its community with the latest titles – leaning more toward the best seller lists than from the Indie Next lists.  It boasts a large magazine selection, yet carries no literary journals.

Nicola’s Books – Ann Arbor, MI

Another gem of Ann Arbor, Nicola’s is located in the Westgate Shopping Center west of downtown, featuring a large selection of titles.  This is another location where authors often visit on their book tours, and signed copies can be found.  I’ve lost many hours browsing the abundant shelves here.

Politics & Prose – Washington, DC

When our daughter attended American University, she resided in an apartment a couple subway stations away from this cozy book store.  An abundance of political and history titles (it is Washington DC after all) and fiction, they host many author visits.  I was in town when Naomi Klein was there for the release of The Shock Doctrine.  On another visit, Barbara Ehrenreich was going to be signing what was her new book at the time – Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America – the day after we left town.  No problem.  They were willing to have a copy signed and shipped to me.  Over a week had passed from the signing and I contacted them about the book.  They looked it up and discovered they had forgotten to have one signed for me.  No problem.  They sent one of their staff to Ms. Ehrenreich’s residence for signing, then shipped it to me.  Now how’s that for service!  (Awesome book, by the way, if you haven’t read it yet).

Purple Tree Books – Cheboygan, MI


This is not the biggest book store on my list.  Nor is it the easiest to visit.  However, just over a year ago this book store took root in downtown Cheboygan (the top of the Michigan mitten) and serves its community well.  Owner Emily Clare, a well-educated bookseller, named the store in order to bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis (purple is the awareness color for this incurable genetic disease), which her niece was diagnosed with when only six days old.  It’s a book store with a cause.

Those are my Top Ten Independent Book Sellers.  Soon, I’ll post my Top Ten Used, Rare, and Old Book Stores.