Tagged year of independence

Indie Bookstore Love: Ebenezer Books in Johnson, Vermont

inside ebenezer books in vermont ebenezer books storefront a wood cut sign with a dog's head and the text ebenezer books the Nonfiction shelf at ebenezer books a longer shot of the zine display with a copy of the quran

display case of zines
We’re celebrating our 20 years of independence by highlighting a different indie bookstore that we love every month for a year! This month, we’re featuring the wonderful Ebenezer Books at 2 Lower Main Street in tiny Johnson, Vermont. They first caught our eye because of their prolific and eclectic zine orders.

We asked Ebenezer’s owner, JJ Indeliclae, a bunch of questions and she sent a bunch of photos, including one of the rack right inside their front door that features a ton of the zines we distribute and publish, as well as the American Quran, which she says she added to her front display in solidarity after someone freaked out about it being on display in another Vermont store.

1. What’s the story of Ebenezer’s? I also have to ask about the store’s name… did it come from a grizzled old New England settler, or is it about a ghost of Christmas?
Neither, actually: I named Ebenezer Books after my dog, Ezer. “Ebenezer” is most commonly translated from Hebrew as “place of refuge,” or, more literally, “stone of help.” For me, bookstores have always been both. My Ezer deserves some of the credit for landing me here in rural northern Vermont. (He is a bit grizzled now, almost fourteen… and there is an Ebenezer Road nearby, so there may well have been an old New England settler by that name. The Dickens reference is pretty slant.)

I bought the store in 2008, just weeks before the recession hit. Ebenezer Books is a true brick-and-mortar, inhabiting a 100-year-old bank building. The founding bookseller on this site, Stacey Burke, restored the original tin ceilings and created a beautiful space for books (in 1998).

2. You sell some of the books we publish, and you also buy zines that we distribute! At this exact moment, what is your favorite Microcosm book, your favorite non-Microcosm book, and the zine that stuck in your head the most in the last year?
Yes! We are thrilled to carry Microcosm zines and books. It’s an almost-daily pleasure to watch people discover zines; I’m continually surprised how many of our customers are discovering them here for the first time. (“Excuse me… what are these little books?”)

It’s tough to pick a favorite Microcosm book! Hot Pants, maybe. Or J. Gerlach’s Simple History series. I’m a longtime fan of Ayun Halliday, so I enjoy recommending her Zinester’s Guide to NYC. My current favorite non-Microcosm book is forthcoming in May: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene. The zine that stuck in my head the most from the past year? There are so many contenders that I’m going to pick the title that first struck me from another store’s zine rack: We’ll Never Have Paris. I’m partial to literary collections.

3. Your bookstore is small but mighty—how would you describe your customers? What keeps you going?
Johnson is a small town, but it is the home of the Vermont Studio Center, the country’s largest residency program for writers and visual artists. They draw people active in the literary community from all over, so many of our customers come from far afield. Consequently we are able to maintain a rich and deep selection of books, especially in poetry and literary fiction. We serve our neighboring towns and are pleased to have customers in an increasing radius from Johnson. Some of our seasonal traffic comes from neighboring ski resorts, and many people also come through town on road trips to view fall foliage. Bookselling is definitely a labor of love. Our best customers share our veneration for the physical book, and their loyalty is a force.

4. What do you glimpse in your crystal ball for the future of books?
I have to believe that there are enough people who care about cultural literacy to continue to buy books, and to buy them from independent channels. I’m encouraged by the resurgence of independent bookstores very recently, though this national trend has yet to buoy us much, as bookstores in particular depend on a political awareness that is still evolving. Book industry upheavals are not yet played out. My hope is that more and more small independent bookstores will thrive, and in turn support small publishers such as yours: especially the ones that care about literary and production quality.

This has been an interview with JJ Indeliclae, owner of Ebenezer Books in Johnson, VT! Be sure to pay them a visit when you’re next up that way, and support your local indie bookstores in the meantime!

Indie Bookstore Love: Buy our books at an indie, get a free t-shirt!

Happy birthday to us! In honor of our 20th anniversary on February 12th, we’re promoting independent bookselling all year long. This month, our actual anniversary month, we’re spreading the love far and wide.

Here’s the deal: Buy two Microcosm books from an independent bookstore, send us a photo of your books and the receipt dated in February 2016, and we’ll send you one of our logo stamp t-shirts, free. (Fine print: If you live outside the US we’ll still give ya a free t-shirt, but we’ll ask you to pay the shipping, because yikes, shipping!)

Then you can be as happy as this guy! At least, if you’ve got an iced tea or two handy.iced tea and microcosm logo

Indie Bookstore Love: Main Street Books in Minot, North Dakota

main street booksFor Microcosm’s 20th Anniversary (it’s February 12th!) we decided to turn the whole year into a party celebrating the survival of indie books! Part of that is singing the praises of independent bookstores, keeping the world bookier and better for everyone. To that end, we’ll be shining our nerdy spotlight every month this year on a different indie bookstore that we love.

Our first featured bookstore is one of our very favorites in the country: Main Street Books in Minot, North Dakota. We go to Minot every year for the WhyNot?!?! Fest (if you’re in the Dakotas-ish or in a band that’s touring this August, join us there!), and we always look forward to combing the shelves and getting to talk to Val, who owns the bookstore and her cadre of charming workers. One year we turned up and they had dedicated a whole small bookcase in the store to our books! We swooned. When it came time to ask booksellers to participate in our 20th anniversary year, we asked Val right away and she said no problem. So we asked her some questions over email about running her booming book business in an oil boom town, and she sent us these photos of her shop.

straight outta portland sign1. What’s the story of Main Street Books? When and why did it start and what’s it’s role in the community?

Main Street Books is celebrating their ten year anniversary in March of this year. The owner, Val Stadick, started Main Street Books in 2006 in a location that was about 1/3 of the size of their current location. This year, in their tenth year, Main Street Books was proud to receive the Minot Daily News Reader’s Choice Award for best Bookstore in Minot beating out the large mall store chain competition for the award. Go Main Street!!

2. How did we meet? Was it through the WhyNot Fest? And how the Microcosm shelf at Main Street Books come to be? You’re the only store we know of that devotes a whole display to us—we’re very flattered! And we also wonder if it’s something that we should encourage other bookstores to do, or if it works for you because of the particular cultural mix that is Minot.

We were introduced to Microcosm Publishing through the WhyNot Fest and some participants involved in the WhyNot who were also large supporters of the bookstore. In particular, one of our staff, Lindsey B. who is now attending an out of state University, loved the selection of Microcosm titles so much so that she suggested putting all of them on a single display. We feel that this not only celebrates the uniqueness of the publisher, but also of Main Street Books.

val holding rad dad3. What’s your favorite Microcosm book?

I have always carried and loved Rad Dad. It’s a great title to handsell any newbie dad and to say ‘Hey! Fatherhood is cool and can be fun. Embrace it and be the best dad possible.”

4. Minot is at the heart of the North Dakota oil boom… do the fluctuations in the local economy (and water levels) affect the types of books that Minot residents tend to read? Are there other trends that you notice as the area changes and grows?

I don’t think it does—current oil prices are causing an out-migration more than growth. In the beginning we saw mostly younger single men or men without their families moving to the area—catering to families during this early growth wasn’t much of a boon to our business. Later the families followed the men and it was exciting for us to see new people in town that weren’t in the Air Force. I love diversity and this is a positive that the oil boom brought to Minot. It also offered families who had lost nearly everything in the economy a fresh start which brought a positive spin to the oil boom. I heard lots of stories from families being grateful to have a roof over their head and a place to call home again.

worker and book shelf

Hurray! This profile of Main Street Books in Minot, ND is part of our 20th Birthday Celebration of Independence! Customers take note: If you buy two of our books from Main Street or any other indie bookstore during the month of February 2016 and send us a pic of your books + receipt, we’ll send you a Microcosm logo t-shirt! 

microcosm at main street

Will you Find the Golden Ticket?

charlie and the golden ticket

Dear friends, fans, and random strangers who just clicked something on the internet,

We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year with as much fanfare as we can muster in our introverted sort of way.

Here’s one thing we’re doing all year: We’ll randomly choose one order placed on our website the 12th day of every month in 2016, and put a $10 Microcosm gift certificate in with the stuff you chose. Whether you buy one patch or a whole case of books, your chances are way way way way way better than the powerball or whatever. You don’t have to do anything special to win; just order between 5pm on the 11th and 2pm on the 12th (pacific time).

microcosm gift certificate

Here’s what you’ll see if you win the golden ticket!

Thanks for being into this stuff too, and for egging us on to keep making it.


The Microcosm staff

Microcosm’s 20th Anniversary: Our Year of Independence

Microcosm hqMicrocosm turns 20 this year! February 12, 2016 is our birthday. Not only are we almost old enough to drink, we’re really proud to have made it this far. There have been some rocky years back there, but things have been going well lately and it feels good to celebrate a milestone. So we’ll be celebrating properly: All year long.

We’re especially proud that we’ve made it as far as we have as an independent—no corporate buyout, no silent partners, no family money. By making books we believe in, and reaching out directly to readers who believe in them too, we’ve shown that traditional print publishing still works. We want to celebrate that fact, and the other independent booksellers and publishers who we do business with every day. So we’re calling it: 2016 is our Year of Independence. We’ll be doing promotions all year to help shore up our operations while supporting our fellow indies… and getting the word out that, despite all the doom and gloom about publishing in the media, we’re still kicking and stronger than ever.

Buy books!

Back Good Trouble on Kickstarter through January 28th and get 25 of our old-but-good books for $50 whoa! Update: We made it!!! Thanks so much, you all. The permanent home for Good Trouble is right here on our website.

• Buy our books from independent bookstores! Send us a photo of two Microcosm books and a receipt showing that you bought them at an indie bookstore any time in the month of February 2016, and we’ll send you one of our logo t-shirts. We’ll have more indie campaigns to come!

• You could win a golden ticket! On the 12th of each month of 2016, we’ll pick a random order placed that day on our website and include a $10 Microcosm gift certificate in with your stuff.

Events for introverts!

• We’ve always got a rotating roster of events that we participate in, and this year we’ll be organizing a few as well. Like our readership, our staff is largely (though not exclusively!) composed of introverts and teetotalers, and we’re not much for the exhausting “talking and drinking” type parties.

• We’ve got a Good Trouble reading lined up at Powell’s on Hawthorne on February 11th at 7:30pm. 

• We’ll be celebrating our anniversary itself on the day of on February 12th from 5-9 or 10pm at Velo Cult in Portland.

• And we’ll be organizing a couple other “read-ins” — you know, where you come and read! Bring your own book or buy one of ours. One will be at the cat cafe because Portland, and another’ll be at a bike bar also because Portland… more details coming soon!

Deals for independent booksellers!

• If you’re a buyer for an indie bookstore, you can order our books from your PGW rep. When you buy 20+ of our backlist titles, you’ll get an extra 5% off your regular discount. And they’ll send you a Microcosm display case if you’d like to show our books off all together.

• Send us a photo of Microcosm books on the shelves at your indie bookstore and we’ll share with our networks!

• We’re looking for indie booksellers to cross-promote with in more ways in 2016! We want to send people to buy our books from you! Get in touch with elly at microcosmpublishing dot com and we’ll make a plan.