Named after the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, Interabang Books meets challenging questions with bold answers. The Dallas store opened in July 2017, and a little more than two years later—on Oct. 20, 2019—a tornado struck. “It was a Sunday evening, so thankfully none of our staff or customers were in the store,” says co-owner and adult book buyer Lori Feathers, “but there was absolutely nothing salvageable, not one single book or furniture or pictures. It was all destroyed in in seconds.” What to do?!

Facing uncertainty, with holiday shopping upon them, the Interabang team scrambled and found a new space closer to Dallas’s city center. “We had to totally redo our orders, working feverishly with our sales reps,” Feathers recalls. “They allowed us to lean on them because we had a crisis on our hands.” The store reopened in November 2019, “and we are still there today.” (The ruined shopping center was rebuilt by 2022.)

“I don’t think it ever crossed any of our minds that this would be the end of our story,” says co-owner Nancy Perot. “We kept all the staff on, and it’s turned out to be a great location, except it’s a smaller shop”—around 2,500 sq. ft. for a 12,000-title inventory. “We’re hoping to expand one of these days.”

General fiction is Interabang’s top category, followed by history titles and a robust children’s department, says business manager Brian Weiskopf. Interabang takes pride in highlighting books in translation, historically marginalized authors, and midlist titles with regional appeal. Texans loved Meredith Hall’s novel Beneficence. (“So many people told me it changed their lives,” says Feathers, who invited Hall to Zoom with readers.) Dallas residents snapped up A Girl Named Carrie, the late Jerrie Marcus Smith’s biography of her great-aunt and department-store entrepreneur Carrie Marcus Neiman (“We sold that all over town, and it brought me joy to think we helped [Smith] celebrate this last chapter of her life,” Perot says). Other Lone Star State hits include The Texas Triangle: An Emerging Power in the Global Economy and Dallas photographer Laura Wilson’s The Writers: Portraits.

Interabang creates repeat customers through a range of programs: in-store book clubs focused on fiction and the BFI Film Classics series; a signed first editions club that delivers autographed, hot-off-the-press fiction and nonfiction; and children’s book-of-the-month subscriptions for board books, picture books, and middle grade titles selected by children’s buyer Lisa Plummer. The subscriptions have found a following beyond Dallas, Perot says. “People buy them for themselves or their children or grandchildren, and it’s given us a broader reach.”

Interabang further expands that reach by collecting financial and book donations for the children’s nonprofit United to Learn and hosting more than 250 events in the store and at bigger venues annually. Feathers also connects Texans via Interabang’s Collective Read, which began as an antidote to pandemic isolation. Interabang selects an enduring but potentially intimidating classic, sets an assignment of about 15 pages per day, then invites participants to comment via a dedicated Slack channel. “We had 177 people read Anna Karenina with us, and we’re doing Middlemarch in the fall,” Feathers says.

Feathers also facilitates the Republic of Consciousness Prize, an award celebrating independent publishers. The prize started in Britain to support U.K. and Irish indie presses, and Feathers brought it to the U.S. and Canada.

The inaugural award, in 2022, went to A Public Space Books and Arinze Ifeakandu’s collection God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, which addresses racism and homophobia in the author’s home country of Nigeria. To further amplify authors’ voices, Feathers cohosts a literary podcast called Across the Pond, chatting across the Atlantic with a British colleague, Sam Jordison of Galley Beggar Press.

From subscriptions to Slack to collective reading, Interabang’s team brings readers and books together. The store’s success comes down to “our wonderful booksellers and our staff,” Perot says. “They’ve been very nimble as we’ve all tried to react to things that are thrown our way” over six years in business. With its punctuation-mark branding and grace under pressure, Interabang seems in tune with the zeitgeist.

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