ANN ARBOR, Mich. - If you've ever been to Literati, Crazy Wisdom, Dawn Treader, or any other of the areas independent bookstores ( and we know you have), you've probably picked up the Booktown Map.
Folded into three pages, the Booktown Map shows a diagram of downtown Ann Arbor with numbered spots, each corresponding to one of the area's independent bookstores listed on either side of the map.
We first met Rachel Pastiva, Ann Arbor Book Society founder, at the Kerrytown Bookfest this past September. Like us, Pastiva loves books and Ann Arbor. She decided it was time that Ann Arbor had its own book society to promote its local, independent bookstores, its literary community and its diverse bibliophile culture. She wants Ann Arbor to become a place that bibliophiles will travel for hours to visit.
We chatted with Pastiva about her goals and hopes for the Ann Arbor Book Society.
What was the inspiration to start the Ann Arbor Book Society?
Pastiva: "I was a bookseller for many years, first in management positions at Borders for several years, and then as the manager of an independent bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, for over a decade. I'd been shopping our independents for many years (since before I even moved from Ohio to Ann Arbor) and over the years I got to know some of the owners of the local independent bookstores. It's not hard to get to know these great people -- many of them are the faces you see behind the counter!
While on the board of the Ann Arbor Book Festival, I connected with a lot of booklovers and was surprised to discover that many Ann Arborites didn't know how many independent bookstores we have in Ann Arbor. I knew, through my own experience and connecting with local bookstore owners, that it's hard work running a bookstore, so it was disappointing to realize they don't get the visibility they deserve. Our independents make incredible contributions to the culture of Ann Arbor, and for that, they should be celebrated. I wanted to be an advocate for the 11 (at the time) independent bookstores that give so much to our community and get the book lovers in our city to recognize how lucky they are to have such diversity in access to books."
What are the goals of the Book Society?
Pastiva: "One of our main goals is getting the word out that Ann Arbor is a booklover's destination. And that's something we are trying to share with Ann Arborites as well as out-of-towners. Many Ann Arborites don't even know that Borders originated right here in Ann Arbor on S. State St. in 1971, and that's only one detail of our rich book history that makes us a book town!
We are working to connect book lovers in our community through bookstore maps available at all independent bookstores, our website, which includes an all-inclusive events calendar of book-related events taking place in and around Ann Arbor, and our monthly email newsletters, that include book-event highlights, book reviews by local book experts, Little Free Library features, Ann Arbor book history and more. Once we secure reliable funding, we will also begin donating new books to charitable organizations that create access to books for all members of our community."
What are your hopes for the future of the Book Society?
Pastiva: "We hope to make the dynamic book culture of Ann Arbor more visible to the general public and all booklovers. We would like to develop our website to be the source for all book-related news in our community and get people excited to learn the deep roots of our book history and the role books have played in shaping the consciousness of our city. We also plan to get our bookstore maps into local hotels and would love to develop a self-guided walking tour to teach the relationship that many of our historic downtown buildings have had with books. We also hope to program events so that local book lovers may connect in person."
To see a map of Ann Arbor Little Free Libraries, check out our article.
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