Tagged bookstore solidarity project

Bookstore Solidarity Project: King’s Coop Bookstore with Paul MacKay (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

You may know King’s Coop Bookstore as the winner of our How to Resist Amazon display contest a few years back, but they are so much cooler than just that! This week on our continuing Bookstore Solidarity Project, we bring you a deeper dive into the realities of bookselling. From attempting to rip a book in half to walking around campus and seeing everyone reading the same thing, it’s all in here!

For more on King’s Coop Bookstore, check out their Bookstore Solidarity Project interview on the blog.

Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday! Check out the giveaway we’re doing to celebrate.

It’s almost one of our favorite days of the year— Independent Bookstore Day! To celebrate, here’s a roundup of some of the stores we’ll be visiting, why we love indies, and a big ol’ giveaway we’re doing to help share the love.

Independent Bookstore Day is held the last Saturday in April every year as a way for stores to celebrate their communities (and vice versa!). Some stores do special edition releases, merch, signings, and other fun shenanigans, and we’re really hyped to be celebrating the celebration this year!

It’s no secret (we hope) that we love indies. We have books about protecting bookstores, stickers, and a whole project centered around the fact that indie bookstores are an incredible community resource and ally in the fight against a certain online monopoly trying to eradicate them.

We’re going to try and visit some of our local (and not-so-local) stores this Saturday! Kalen, Elly, and Joe are hanging out at IBPA in Denver, but they’re hoping to swing by Shop at MATTER and Munity Information Cafe. Terry and Anna-Lisa are going to try and stop by Spoke & Word and Annie Bloom’s. Abby (me!) is pumped to finally visit Possible Futures on our way to the Connecticut Fiber Festival. Other staff are going to their indies, too! We hope to see you there.

We wish we could check out EVERY STORE because they’re all kickass, but alas, we haven’t invented time travel or perfected our cloning techniques, so you’ll have to go in our stead. Click here to see if an indie near you is joining the party this weekend.

The Big Microcosm IBD Giveaway!

As a fun celebration for IBD, we’re doing a giveaway!

We’re giving one lucky winner a prize pack of Microcosm titles from our first decade of publishing, valued at over $230!

To enter, simply purchase or special order a Microcosm-published title at a US indie on Saturday the 27th. Online orders count, but due to shipping costs the giveaway is only open to folks with an address in the United States.

Then you just upload your receipt or proof of purchase to this Google Form by April 30th to be entered to win. Other details, terms, and conditions about the giveaway can be found on the entry form. Winners will be contacted within the week.

Thanks again for supporting indie publishing and bookstores. We genuinely can’t do any of this without you.

See you at the bookstore!

Bookstore Solidarity Project: An Interview with Paul McKay of King’s Co-op Bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country (and beyond!)

For April, we’re featuring King’s Co-op Bookstore, in Halifax!

King’s is a kickass store, which they cheekily claim is “Canada’s hardest to find indie bookstore.” It’s Halifax’s only co-op bookshop, and they’re definitely good friends to the Microcosm community.

Check out our interview with Paul below!

Your name and pronouns?
Paul MacKay, he/him

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
Our store was primarily created in 2006 by students who needed an easy and affordable place to buy their coursebook texts. The Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College is about 45 books in very specific editions and translations and it could be incredibly hard to find exactly what you needed. A group of students got together and found a free spot on campus which is quite small but special shelves were created that allowed the bookshelves to open and close and lock up so that common areas could still be usable for the bookstore. (This shows an old video showing how it works, I’ve since updated the fixtures and it looks a lot better)

We’re pretty hard to find at first, being in the basement of a building on campus, so I leaned into it and describe us as Canada’s Hardest to Find Bookstore since even google maps will only put you on campus but not right at the store. Since we’re owned by the students we’re not like usual university bookstores and we’re also a regular indie bookstore with fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. We’re also totally open to the public and do special orders all the time either in store or on our website where we promote ourselves as a friendly and easy amazon alternative. We like to engage with things we think are important in the community and we like to champion books and reading, and work hard to bring authors to town who people might not usually have the chance to see.

Our standing in the community grew a lot as word of mouth got out of what we were doing during covid. Since the university closed we had to stay closed too, but I would run books outside for people and also delivered books on my bike. People really liked that idea and also were looking for ways to support local since so many businesses were struggling. Between that and a more personal approach to social media we’ve really become more of a community bookstore which was always my goal when I took over this place (about 6 years ago)

How did you choose your store’s name?
The store name was already chosen by the time I took over the store. I do appreciate it’s specificity, King’s co-op bookstore, a co-op bookstore at King’s. Does what it says on the tin.

What got you into bookselling?
This was never something I ever really intended to do. I’ve always loved books and would often cut classes in school to go hang out at the bookstore and learn things I cared about, but my real career plan was to be a musician and music professor. I picked up the guitar when I was around 18 and really took to it, earning a double major degree in music and psychology shortly after, and then went for more schooling in jazz guitar performance. That was my sole reason for being for years and it was all I cared about but eventually the strain and overuse of my arm caused repetitive strain injury that meant I had to quit playing. When I take to something I get kind of obsessive, so I was practising from about 8am to 10pm every day which my body just kind of revolted against.

I moved back home and needed to get a job quickly so I applied at the same chain bookstore i used to hang out at when I cut classes. I got hired there and would shelve books with my one good arm. I got promoted to being one of the managers of that store after a few years and during that time I met a lot of great people who introduced me to amazing books that really changed my life and that I developed a real passion for books that has only grown over the years

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
I think the most surprising thing about our store is how we fold up and close down every day like we’re a pop-up shop every day. As far as I know we’re the only bookstore in the world like it, and it’s always something I show people when authors come to visit. I wasn’t around at the time the bookstore was started but I do love that it was a very DIY project with a sort of “whatever, we’ll do it ourselves” punk attitude. Bookselling is getting harder and hard nowadays and there’s a huge financial barrier to opening a bookstore or even buying one that’s for sale, so I take pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a weird space without much in the way of money

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
We recently started a program with Books Beyond Bars which is a local group that works to get books to inmates in the women’s prisons here. I asked them to share their book requests with me and I put them on our website with a promo code so people can buy the books to support the program at a 20% discount.

So far we’ve managed to get them close to 100 books and we’re all really happy about it. The people supporting the program get to pay less, we help give the prisoners books they actually want to read, and the money stays the community instead of going you know where. You never know how a certain initiative will land with people and I’ve been really happy with the response this has gotten.

Outside of that, I manage all the social media for the store and people taking the time to make posts about how much they like the store or recommending us to others is always nice. They absolutely don’t need to do anything like that so if they feel the desire to do something like that you know they mean it 🙂

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
I’m really stoked for the new Hanif Abdurraqib book There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension. I read an advanced copy of it and like everything he does it’s just amazing. I’m not a big sports fan at all and even I was taking breaks from reading it to watch slam dunk contents from like 30 years ago because the way he writes about them is so incredible.

Kaveh Akbar’s Martyr! is easily one of my favourite fiction books in the last year too. It’s his first novel after some poetry collections, and his writing is just beautiful. Another one that I just devoured and want everybody to read.

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
Our website kingsbookstore.ca has everything on it that we have in store and we offer a flat $5 fee for shipping whether it’s 1 book or 20 books. we can also order in anything we don’t currently have also, so instead of going to the evil A they can just go to our website instead 🙂

twitter and facebook are: kingsbookstore , instagram is kingscoopbookstore , my personal instagram is @talentedruins

(Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance. – James Baldwin)

Anything else you want to share?
I won the contest for Danny Caine’s How to Resist Amazon and Why a while back which was great. I sold tons of them and also left copies at busy places in the city for people to find. Danny mentions us in the book which was a nice surprise when I was first reading it 🙂

Be sure to follow King’s Co-Op on their socials, and check back in a few weeks for their podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.

Bookstore Solidarity Project: Charlie’s Queer Books (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

In 2013, we predicted that the bookstore model would shift to more specialized indie stores that offered a narrower offering around their own curated interests and values, with more books face-out and unabashedly clear messaging about who the store is and is not for. And here are we are in 2024, with Charlie’s Queer Books of Seattle, Washington offering a perfect example. This week on the pod, we interview Charlie, who has awesome stories about the importance of creating a safer space to demonstrate that there are, in fact, happy queer people.

Check out our other interview with Charlie here.

Get the People’s Guide to Publishing here, and the workbook here!
Want to stay up to date on new podcast episodes and happenings at Microcosm? Subscribe to our newsletter!

Bookstore Solidarity Project: Alibi Bookshop of Vallejo, CA (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

Nestled deep in the heart between San Francisco and Sacramento lives the Alibi Bookshop! This week, in the latest of “What makes all of these cool indie bookstores tick?” we present to you, their proprietor, Karen, to unpack what publishers could do better to interface with stores like hers and the funniest things that happen when you bring back the 90s.

You can check out the other interview we did with Karen on the blog here.

Get the People’s Guide to Publishing here, and the workbook here!
Want to stay up to date on new podcast episodes and happenings at Microcosm? Subscribe to our newsletter!

Bookstore Solidarity Project: An Interview with Charlie Hunts, owner of Charlie’s Queer Books in Seattle, WA

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country.

For March, we’re featuring Charlie’s Queer Books, in Seattle, Washington! Charlie’s isn’t the first queer bookstore in Seattle, but it is the first in 20 years. They opened last year, with a focus on diversity and intersectionality in their titles.

Your name and pronouns?
Charlie Hunts (He/him)

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
We began as a magic disco-tiled book cart doing pop-ups and then we opened our brick and mortar home in Nov 2023. Our shop is in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a funky part of town that’s home to a massive bridge troll sculpture, a rocket, former home to a famous clown, and self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe,” so where better to open a queer bookstore? The Seattle/Tacoma area has the third-highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people among the nation’s 15 largest metros only behind San Francisco/Oakland and Boston/Cambridge, so this city was eager to have a “third place” other than nightlife to hang out at.

What got you into bookselling?
I was a college dropout Harley Davidson mechanic who happened to get in a motorcycle accident *shocker* that left me bed-bound for more than a year. In that time, I fell in love with reading! I went back to school as an English major, started my career in publishing, and then pivoted to marketing for different industries. With the onslaught of book bans, anti-LGBTQ legislation, and the need in the market for queer spaces, I felt like the time was right to return to books.

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
The Seattle Times said we have the best bookstore bathroom in the city. Seriously.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
In the short time we’ve been open we’ve had everything from a couple’s first kiss under our mistletoe, to a wife and wife who gifted each other the same book, both purchased here. SO gay, ha. We have a great mix of tourists, locals in the neighborhood, and folks who seek us out. We have our upstairs dedicated to community hangs with tables, reading nooks, and a meeting space. They have shown up big time at our events too.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
Love After the End and Gearbreakers. Our top-selling non-book item is the Ronald Reagan’s Grave is a Gender Neutral Bathroom sticker.

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
charliesqueerbooks.com

Be sure to follow Charlie’s Queer Books on Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram, and check back in a few weeks for their podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.


Bookstore Solidarity! Josh Christie of Print: A Bookstore (A People’s Guide to Publishing)

Print: A Bookstore has been a triumphant, bright light in envisioning what a bookstore could be. Both as a brick and mortar that is a champion for information and reading, but also holding up its staff and creating entertaining skit videos with its staff! This week on the pod, we feature co-owner Josh Christie about the store in our ongoing Bookstore Solidarity project!

Check out Josh’s interview on the blog here.

Get the People’s Guide to Publishing here, and the workbook here!
Want to stay up to date on new podcast episodes and happenings at Microcosm? Subscribe to our newsletter!

An Interview with Karen Finlay, owner of Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo, California

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country. This month, we’re featuring Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo, California, owned by Karen Finlay.

Your name and pronouns?
Karen Finlay, she/her

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
We moved to Vallejo from Oakland in 2017, and there was a tiny used bookstore with a small selection; I was disappointed that we didn’t have something *more.* Some people can’t live away from water, and I can’t live far away from a bookstore. One day I said, “I wish I could open a bookstore in Vallejo!” Well, be careful what you wish for — we wound up buying the store and opened in 2019. Not the greatest timing because a pandemic was looming, but our community has kept us here and we are so, so grateful.

Vallejo, the most diverse city in the US, is an interesting and historical town with its share of issues, but the best community anywhere. It was a navy town , but the navy left in the late ’90s and the city declared bankruptcy in 2008, and our downtown still reflects that. But we are working hard to bring back some vitality, and it’s been fantastic! The pandemic derailed our initial efforts, but we’ve been ramping up again. We’ve had sold out events at the local movie theater, two active book clubs, author events, a writing group, partnerships with local businesses… And anchoring downtown to bring in more businesses. We love it here so much. We try very hard to explain that shopping locally is one of the best things you can do for your city, and the message is starting to take hold. We have a ways to go, but the baby steps are getting bigger.

We don’t have a shop cat — we have two enormous “kittens” who are useless at shelving, so they have to stay home.

What got you into bookselling?
In high school I got a job at Upstart Crow, was an English/Creative Writing major in college and grad school, worked in publishing for nearly 20 years (a year of that with THE GREAT ANNA-LISA), and voila, now I own a bookstore!

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
There are continual surprises and delights in this store — sometimes I think it MUST be haunted. For years this space was a legendary cigar shop, but it was also a jeweler, an egg store in the 1930s, the Democratic Headquarters for Vallejo for Robert Kennedy’s campaign so Teddy Kennedy was here, but my favorite incarnation was that it was “Foxy Lady Boutique” that specialized in hot pants. And I just discovered that the movie star Raymond Burr lived in this building as a child!

I think the thing people are surprised about that there’s a bookstore here at all! People think that bookstores are a thing of the past, and we gladly prove them wrong. Just now a woman was in here — she drove here from a different town because she had heard about us and wanted to see what the “fuss was about,” and said that I proved them all right! Take THAT, Amazon.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
Vallejo SHOWS UP for us. We have a dedicated core group of customers, and they try to support by buying books/gifts, sharing on social media, spreading the word or even bringing us strawberries or flowers from the farmer’s market, and today a lady brought me a donut because she was thinking of me. But my favorite are the people who stop by to make sure I’ve gotten something to eat! I love our community so, so much.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
My favorite handsells are “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” and right now, “The Great Believers” and “Just Kids.”

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
On our Bookshop.org page!

Be sure to follow Alibi on Facebook and Instagram, and check here for Karen’s podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.

An Interview with Josh Christie, co-owner of Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine.

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country.

For January, we managed to wrangle Josh Christie of Print: A Bookstore, in Portland, Maine. Fun fact about Print— it’s where Abby the Marketing Manager was first really introduced to Microcosm, thanks to Print’s awesome selection of zines and books!

Your name and pronouns?
Josh Christie, he/him

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
We love being the most progressive, most queer-friendly bookstore in our already lefty little city. We’ve been a store for 7 years in November (!). No store cat, through four of us have dogs and one of us has pet bunnies.

What got you into bookselling?
I couldn’t figure out what else to do with a degree in political science. This is my 20th year as a bookseller, so now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
Our store has been many things prior to our tenancy, including a furniture designer’s workshop, hardware store / scuba shop, and girls school. Plus, the store is haunted.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
The community is super-supportive of all our social media antics, which is loads of fun. They’ve also really latched on to our book clubs – we’ve got four now, and each pulls at least a dozen attendees for every meeting.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
How to Be Multiple: The Philosophy of Twins by Helena de Bres and Black Punk Now, edited by Chris L. Terry and James Spooner

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
Our website! Printbookstore.com.


Be sure to follow Print: A Bookstore on Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok (you definitely want to check out their Tiktok). Check out his podcast interview here!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.

An Interview with Rick Griffith, owner of The Shop at MATTER in Denver, Colorado.

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country.

This month, we’re featuring The Shop at MATTER in Denver! It’s a Black- and woman-owned store that also triples as a design consultancy and letterpress workshop.

Your name and pronouns?
Rick Griffith (He/Him/Them)

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
Since 2014 our bookstore has been the only Black- and woman-owned independent, full service (internet and brick) cultural justice bookstore in the United States Mountain Time Zone. We are a haven for fem, queer, non-binary, trans, LatinX, Indigenous, AAPI, and Black persons. We have always respected and invested in the intellectual and creative products of the people who represent our community. We have a print shop with five letterpress printing presses and thousands of pieces of wood type that we employ to print community projects that are pro-democracy, pro-liberation, and pro-freedom. We are political—and we are activists. A bookstore to integrate Art, Design and Cultural Justice for all generations.

What got you into bookselling?
The desire to positively affect the lives of the people we know and love with books and products that acknowledge those of us in the margins.

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
We are working on a lending library for our community so everyone can have access. We have five 19th and early 20th century printing presses. We letterpress print for our community and ask people to pay what they can afford for most of our prints.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
Besides buying books, buying our prints and posters. Ordering for personal and business book clubs. Having us bring our pop-up to conferences and large gatherings. Getting the word out. Shopping in pairs.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
Can’t Pay Won’t Pay and There are Places in the World Where Rules are Less Important than Kindness

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?
on the internet: shopatmatter.com

Anything else you would like us to know?
We are love, revolution, and abolition.

Be sure to follow The Shop at MATTER on Instagram and Facebook, and check out their interview on our podcast here!

Check out our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to check out How to Protect Bookstores and Why.