Although many booksellers start off as teachers, few have moved from teaching to running book groups to opening an online bookstore. But that’s exactly the career path that Esther Bushell, a teacher in Greenwich, Conn., for 40 years, has taken. By the time she stopped teaching in 2005, she had turned running book groups into a full time job and now facilitates 20 of them.
Last month, Bushell and former student Cai Boldt Pandolfino, who founded a popular cafe and catering business in Greenwich, decided to extend the book group experience with Literary Matters—an online bookstore at literarymatters.net and author events organization. The Web site is intended for casual readers and bibliophiles, says Bushell. In addition to brief reviews, she offers suggested reading lists for book groups like coming of age stories, major love stories or seven mysteries. “What Cai and I have tried to do,” says Bushell, “is create a place for readers to share fellowship. People like personal recommendations from people they can trust.”
Now that the site is up and running, with sales going through Amazon’s affiliate program, Bushell and Pandolfino are offering local readers a physical space to get together and meet authors through a luncheon series in Old Greenwich. Their first two speakers will be novelists Matthew Pearl (The Last Dickens) and Kate Walbert (A Short History of Women). Book sales for the luncheons will go through Diane’s Books of Greenwich.