The art of the third place – community spaces where people share life and friendship. Bookbound, a community bookstore in Ann Arbor, has accomplished exactly this in its own unique way by providing the opportunity for parents and children to savor quiet moments together. Endearingly named Bookbound, store owners Megan and Peter Blackshear have found contentment and success in the neighborhoods known as the Northside.
Northside is a diverse community, and the Blackshears strive to create a welcoming environment. Featuring an open floor plan to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, they feel they have “really gone the extra mile to make sure all the space is accessible to everyone in the community.”
Bookbound opened in the right place at the right time as the Northside area has become revitalized in recent years. Building relationships with people, organizations, schools and departments at the University of Michigan has proven a valuable and rewarding effort, as the Blackshears like to give back to the community. While they host several events throughout the year, they especially like to support community events and literacy awareness efforts.
Recently they hosted Leslie Science and Nature Center to offer an educational workshop about wildlife. They support local events such as Food Gatherers’ annual fundraiser grilling cook off, and recently became a panel sponsor for the Ann Arbor STEAM School’s Solar Project at Northside Elementary. They also visited a second-grade class of students who wanted to learn about the impact of book manufacturing on a town. Such endeavors are a great way to instill curiosity and cultivate a love for learning and reading.
The Joy of Literature and Storytelling
Bookbound celebrates their fifth year this summer, offering a wide variety of books that appeal to a diverse readership and especially young readers. The store features an extensive children’s literature collection, and they even help local schools choose books. “Oftentimes, the media specialist will reach out to us, asking for help to select books for their school library,” said Megan Blackshear.
While they enjoy curating this special collection, they noted it was also smart business strategy – children’s literature is less vulnerable to internet sales competition. Parents and children want to see and read new books before taking them home.
“Children’s literature is not publicity driven, it just needs to be interesting and eye-catching,” said Peter Blackshear, “even books that are obscure can easily find an audience with children and parents who like the pictures and story.” If you’re curious for a recommendation, they suggest children’s author Kate DiCamillo, a Newbery award winner whose stories detail believable characters who grapple with everyday problems that kids and parents can really relate to.
Saturday mornings at 11am is story time for kids age 6 and younger, and parents can join them for a regularly scheduled evening of “grown folk story time” to share stories they remember from youth. There is also a poetry open mic and live music series for the more lyrically minded. When you visit, you may notice their store logo features a compass to help you navigate your way. They will even help you find rare books and accommodate special orders. As the Blackshears say, “We want the stories that haven’t been told to be told.”
You can find Bookbound online at bookboundbookstore.com and in the Courtyard Shops at 1729 Plymouth Rd.