The closing of the last Borders bookstores in 2011 continues to reverberate in communities across the country; nowhere is that more evident than in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Borders’ flagship store and its corporate headquarters were located. Peter Blackshear, who worked for 19 years at Borders, including seven as a bookseller and 12 as a bargain book buyer for the company, is opening an independent bookstore on the northeast end of town, about a mile from downtown. Bookbound will open its doors mid to late August, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for September 7. It is the second independent bookstore to open in Ann Arbor in the past year: Literati opened its doors in downtown Ann Arbor the last day of March.
“I’d dreamed for many years of having a store of my own,” Blackshear told PW, “When Borders closed, I thought maybe there was a window of opportunity to start my own business.”
While Blackshear has almost two decades of bookselling experience, beginning with a stint at Borders’ “Store #14” in Birmingham, Mich., his wife, Megan Blackshear, has no previous bookselling experience. But, she says, working for a local nonprofit, Foodgatherers, has helped her with her entrée into bookselling; her extensive administrative, marketing, and fundraising background includes organizing events as well. The two intend to hire “one or two” part-time employees, and say that with so many former Borders employees still living in the Ann Arbor area, hiring experienced booksellers won’t be difficult.
Bookbound is located in a 2,400-square-foot building in a small shopping center comprised of local businesses located near the University of Michigan’s north campus. The store is located in, its co-owners say, an ethnically diverse neighborhood with highly educated residents, many of them graduate students and young families. Bookbound will stock in its 2,000-square-foot retail area a large selection of bargain books as well as children’s books. There will be a small used book selection added to the mix.
“We’re also buying a lot of our own favorites, which tend to be midlist titles; we’ll handsell them,” Peter Blackshear said. The store will carry, “to start with,” 10,000 titles, 50% trade and 50% remainders. One-third of the inventory will be children’s books.
The Blackshears are confident that, with three full-service independents -- Nicola’s Books on the west side of town, Literati in the downtown area, and Bookbound on the east side -- Ann Arbor residents once again will be well-served with full-service general bookstores.
“The bookstore scene here is so friendly: everyone wants to collaborate and coordinate,” noted Megan Blackshear.