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I’ve been exploring indie bookstores for years, sharing my adventures here on the blog and social media. One thing I’ve heard time after time is that bookstores are magical places. But what does that mean? At one time their demise was predicted, but now book sales are rising and new stores are popping up all over.  So what is it about these shops that people find so intriguing? Join me as I go behind the shelves and talk to booksellers from across the country to get the story behind their shops and try to find out what makes indie bookstores so magical. 

Episode 1: Conquest Books – Ashland, Kentucky On this episode, Matt heads to the Bluegrass State of Kentucky to visit a new shop, Conquest Books. Owner Talmadge Callihan talks about the magic of community bookstores and what it’s like sharing space with a trendy art gallery and coffee shop.

Episode 2: Rose City Book Pub – Portland Oregon On this episode, we head to Portland, Oregon, where we’ll talk to Elise Schumock, the owner of one of the coolest book bars around: Rose City Book Pub.

Episode 3: Booktenders – Barboursville, West Virginia On this episode, we visit Booktenders in Barboursville, West Virginia, a brand new book bar owned and operated by two bartenders turned booksellers.  

Episode 4: The Bookshop of Beverly Farms – Beverly, Massachusetts On this episode, we talk to Hannah Harlow and Sam Pfeifle – siblings, avid readers, and co-owners of the Bookshop of Beverly Farms – about taking over a well-established indie shop and hosting their own book podcast.

Episode 5: Magpie Bookshop – Catskill, New York On this episode, we talk to Kristi Gibson, owner of Magpie Bookshop in Catskill, New York, about running a bookstore specializing in used and “nearly new” books.

Episode 6: Bagatelle Books – Asheville, North Carolina On this episode, we visit with Patrick Kutcher, owner of Bagatelle Books, a fantastic used bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina.

Episode 7: Liberty Book Shop – Avis, Pennsylvania Have you ever wanted to spend the night in a bookstore? Linda Roller’s Liberty Book Shop in Avis, Pennsylvania, is a bookshop Airbnb that provides guests 24-hour access to the store!

Episode 8: Blue Willow Bookshop – Houston, Texas This week, we visit with Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, who discusses the changes she’s seen in the bookstore business since taking over the shop in the mid-90s.

Episode 9: Swamp Fox Bookstore – Marion, Iowa On this episode, we’re joined by Terri LeBlanc, co-owner and operations manager at Swamp Fox Bookstore in Marion, Iowa, a shop that’s small on square footage but big on personality.

Episode 10: Little Bus Books – Lakeland, Florida This week, our guest is Lynsey Pippen, owner of Little Bus Books in Lakeland, Florida, who tells us about turning a vintage 1953 Va-Ka-Shun-Ette trailer into a mobile bookstore.

Episode 11: Honest Dog Books – Bayfield, Wisconsin On today’s show, we talk with Julie Buckles, owner of Honest Dog Books in Bayfield, Wisconsin, who tells us about buying a beloved bookshop on a whim! 

Episode 12: The King’s English Bookshop – Salt Lake City, Utah Teenager Calvin Crosby walked into The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1980 and found a safe space. Forty years later, he became its co-owner. On today’s episode, he tells us how it happened.

Episode 13: The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville, Alabama On this episode, Matt is joined by Dr. Lady Vowell Smith, owner of Huntsville, Alabama’s The Snail on the Wall – a bookstore without the store! Lady shares how she offers the personal service indies are known for with her online bookshop.

Episode 14: Fables Books, Goshen, Indiana When Goshen, Indiana’s only bookshop announced its closure, Kristin Saner teamed up with some friends to ensure that an independent bookstore remained in the town. On this episode of Bookstore Explorer, Kristin shares how Fables Books was born.

Episode 15: Murder By the Book, Houston, Texas Happy Halloween! This week, we’re back in Houston, Texas, for a spooky’ish themed visit to Murder By the Book, one of the oldest and coolest mystery bookshops in the nation! Bookseller John McDougall shares the history of this great store and shares some favorite mystery reads. 

Episode 16: The Book Dragon Shop, Staunton, Virginia This week, we visit the lovely small town of Staunton, Virginia, where guest Sandra Cararo discusses how she transitioned from a career in selling at chain bookstores to operating her own indie, The Book Dragon Shop.

Episode 17: Novelette Booksellers, Nashville, Tennessee Jordan Tromblee and Deezy Youngdahl opened Novelette Booksellers in Nashville, Tennessee, less than six months ago. The vibrant, colorful, inclusive and welcoming shop has already been hailed as one of the city’s most talked about indies. They join Matt this week to tell us why.

Episode 18: Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio Loganberry Books has been serving the greater Cleveland area since 1994. Bookseller Elisabeth Plumlee-Watson is here to share its unique history. Plus, if you’ve ever been “that customer” who comes in searching for a book from your childhood with nothing but a vague description to go on, Loganberry has a cool service to help find it.

Episode 19: Pages in the Pines, Running Springs, California On this episode, we’re in Running Springs, California, to visit Pages in the Pines. Owner Becky Morgan walks us through this tiny but mighty shop, part of a collection of retail and event spaces. With only 120 square feet, Becky discusses how she makes the most out of a small space.