by Matt Lubbers-Moore
This is the third in our new series where authors and others share about their favorite bookstore!
I have been around books all of my life. My mother was the president of the local library friends’ group, which meant that at the age of eight, I was carting boxes of books up from the basement for the semi-annual book sale. My reward and payment was a box of books. By my teen years, my bedroom looked like a library: shelves evenly distributed and books stacked from floor to ceiling. I have loved books very early in life. It is no surprise to myself or my family that I have been involved in every aspect of the book industry, other than physically printing. I have been a reader, a collector, a book seller (with my own used bookstore that was closed due to flooding), beta reader, librarian, author, and publisher.
When someone asks me my favorite book, I tell them that to name my favorite book is like a parent having to name their favorite child. It can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be done. When I was posed the question, what is your favorite bookstore? I thought it would be an easy answer, but again, I didn’t know how to narrow it down. The John King Bookstore in Detroit is an amazing place. It is four floors of books in an old glove factory with a rare book building located behind it which requires a guide and an appointment to walk through. I could literally spend hours there, but it’s roughly three and a half hours east from my house, and I only make it out there once or twice a year. I work part-time at a used bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called Argos. It’s going on fifty-five years in business and is one of my favorite places to be with used books, and new and back issue comics. The floors creak and the place smells of books and knowledge.
However, if I must choose one place to call my favorite, it must be my “local” independent bookstore, Bay Books, located in Suttons Bay, Michigan. Bay Books is also about three and a half hours north, and I only make it up there a couple times a year. I first learned of the store through an author virtual book release party which had been published right at the start of the Covid shut downs in April of 2020.
The reasons I love Bay Books are many. Suttons Bay itself is a beautiful little village located right on the Grand Traverse Bay off of Lake Michigan. It is surrounded by woods, fields, and vineyards. The restaurants are amazing, the shops quaint, and the atmosphere is relaxed. The local library which also sells books in their book nook is right on the water with plenty of places to sit and relax.
Bay Books is in the middle of town and sets the tone. It is a place of majestic beauty. The store is wonderfully laid out with a good mix of everything a reader could want from kid’s books to the latest Stephen King alongside a large selection of books by Michigan authors. You can grab a pair of literary greeting cards, some fun literary candles or coffee mugs, or even some fun literary socks.
The best aspect of Bay Books is the owner, Tina. I don’t get to travel to Suttons Bay very often, but I can message the store, no matter day or night, through Facebook asking about a certain title (or five), and Tina would get back to me within a few short hours letting me know when the book would be in and the cost. When I call to pay for my order, she is never too busy to chat about the latest book she just finished reading or to ask for any recommendations I might have. She mails me the books in beautiful tissue paper wrapped in a box which is itself colored and decorated.
Throughout the year she has small events on her website selling book bundles, whether for Valentine’s Day, LGBTQ Pride, or just a random bundle for your literary relative. She packs them full of fun literary goods. This past June I received her LGBTQ Pride box, and it contained a pair of literary rainbow-colored socks, a cookbook called Tasty Pride, assorted treats and goodies, and an assortment of rainbow decorations.
I can’t wait for Covid to be under control so that I can travel back up there. I would love to visit my “local” bookstore and my good friend Tina. I just know that she has a shelf full of books about books and bibliomysteries calling my name.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.