If you haven’t heard the news, Gibson’s Bookstore is up for a pretty impressive award.
Recently, your hometown bookstore was named to the shortlist of nominees for the Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year Award. Gibson’s is one of five stores nationwide to be named, along with Astoria Bookshop (Queens, N.Y.), Boulder Bookstore (Boulder, Colo.), Source Booksellers (Detroit) and University Book Store (Seattle). The winner of the award will be announced in late March and presented at BookExpo in New York City in late May, and will also be featured in the pre-BookExpo edition of Publishers Weekly.
According to Monitor columnist Ray Duckler’s piece last week, “the criteria considered for nomination include commitment to community, financial sustainability and creative ways to counter competitors like Amazon and other online retailers.”
“An independent shop, especially a bookstore, must be community focused,” said owner Michael Herrmann. “And that’s what we’re all about.”
And while we’ve been to Gibson’s on numerous occasions – for both work and pleasure – we had never really taken the time to really examine all that it contains; to really see what makes the Main Street shop a destination for book lovers. Because, it appears that it’s a standard for what makes a great bookstore, especially since it was considered worthy of a nomination like this.
“People want that feeling that this is my bookstore,” Herrmann said.
When you walk in the door, you’ll receive a pleasant greeting from whichever staff member is on front desk duty. If you’re someone who frequents the store quite a bit, there’s a good chance they might address you by name. And if you happen to be one of those people who takes advantage of Gibson’s being a dog-friendly establishment, they might not know your name, but odds are your pooch will be recognized.
Now, we’re all aware that you can buy books online, but can you get more information than what’s on the back cover/summary? Not really. What about other recommendations? You might get some, but not actually based off what you want to know, but more of other’s purchasing trends. What about if you don’t have a clue about what you’re looking for? Good luck.
That’s why bookstores are a great resource (much like libraries). The people who work there are knowledgeable and either read the actual book or know enough about it to answer your questions. Don’t believe us? Go there and see just how helpful they can be.
“If we’re doing our job well, you can’t tell what books we’ve read and not read,” Herrmann said.
There’s a section on local authors from Concord and around the Granite State. You can find new releases and bestsellers list titles in their own display. And others dedicated to books talked about on NHPR and the Indie Next List.
“N.H. Public Radio and a bookstore is just a natural partnership,” Herrmann said.
Once or twice a week, Gibson’s will host an author for an evening of discussion and questions, with the ability to put out chairs for 100 interested readers. They have children’s authors come for storytimes on certain Saturdays (including this week with Eric Pinder, author of The Perfect Pillow.)
“That’s always been important for us,” Herrmann said. “We’re known as a bookstore that really wants to connect readers with writers.”
Gibson’s has a book club that meets on the first Monday of the month and is free and open to all. You can read all 12 books each year or go for the months that interest you. March’s meeting with be on the 5th with The Reserve, by Russell Banks – just in case that’s something you want to read. They also serve pizza for members.
If you have kids, be ready to spend some time in there. In addition to the vast selection of books, you’ve got all kinds of toys, both for purchase and to play with, including a little train set and a mini table with chairs. That all started when they moved from a 4,000-square-foot storefront in 2013 and bought Imagination Village to help fill the new 12,000-square-foot space.
“We wanted more and more reasons for people to come in,” Herrmann said.
It’s why you’ll also find True Brew Barista located in the same space. Because let’s be honest, books and coffee are kind of a natural pairing, so it made sense for both.
In need of a mug, notepad, cards, magnets or funny socks? You’ll find that too. Gibson’s even has it’s own line of T-shirts.
But it all comes back to books and reading. Since there’s about 100,000 books published each year, there’s no way they can have every one. That doesn’t mean they can’t get it, and fast.
“If people are thinking about books, we want them to come here,” Herrmann said.
And if you’re not quite sure you want a book based on the description, sit down in one of the comfy chairs and read the first umpteen pages to see if you like it. No one will mind – actually, it’s kind of encouraged.
So as you can see, it’s no wonder Gibson’s was nominated for the award. We sure hope they win.