Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Novel Idea

Everyone knows bookstores are struggling. From major chains like Borders to small indies, sales are down and stores are closing and bookbuyers are cutting back on orders and skipping authors.

There’s a bookstore in Grand Rapids that’s trying a novel idea to pull in readers. And I think it might just work.

They’re getting their liquor license.

There used to be a wonderful small indie store in the town next to mine who sold wine. They had a small counter with about three chairs where you could have a glass of wine and talk to the two owners. Or when they had an author visit, you could take your wine to your chair. They ended up having to close their doors after a couple of years.

But the Schuler Books has a bigger idea. All four of their stores have fireplaces (there would be a draw for me, even in our mild winters down here) and cafes. Now they're looking to add drinks in their downtown Grand Rapids store.
“The vision is it's an enhancement to the bookstore and our cafe and provides an alternate place where people can relax, browse the books and enjoy food from our cafe," [owner] Fehsenfeld said. "We're feeling this will be able to maybe lengthen our hours into the evening more."
Apparently, Grand Rapids makes it cheaper to have a liquor license downtown than elsewhere.
Fehsenfeld envisions adding beer and wine to his cafe's extensive coffee menu, so bookstore patrons could have a glass with dinner, browse the books, relax by the fireplace and maybe listen to a live concert.
Sounds good to me. A roaring fire on a cold night, a glass of deep red wine, a good book, music. Take me away, Schuler Books.


  1. What a great idea. Bookstores should be places to hang out.

  2. A fireplace and a glass of wine will always draw me in. Add a good book, and I'm hooked.

  3. All the indie stores I've been in lately have fireplaces and/or small cafes where people congregate during the noon hour or after work. They'e staying open and I think it's a great idea to foster community gatherings, as small town taverns have done for years.

  4. Not many fireplaces down my way, but cafes, yes. I'd like for bookstores to have places for readers to sit and check out a book. And it'd be good if they were comfy chairs.

  5. I like bookstores with the coffee shops & yummy baked treats, nice comfy chairs to sit in and storytelling rooms for the kids (grands in my case - lol) to be entertained in while I languish about in literary heaven.

  6. Ya know, I was just thinkin that booze and books are a natural pairing. :) Great post!

  7. Comfy chairs and a drink, be it coffee, wine, chai tea or a mojito.

    That'd be a place worth going back to often.

  8. OH man, I am so there! That's a wonderful idea!

  9. We seem to all agree, so why haven't more stores thought of this?

  10. I'd love to see more of that. I know that Maryland, for one, has some awful strange ideas about liquour licenses. And of course there's all the red tape you have to cut through for food. I think trimming the beauracracy would help our bookstores AND our economy!


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