When you shop this holiday, and all year round, help support independent bookstores in your community by ordering your books early or safely planning an in-store visit. When you shop indie you support your community.
We’re featuring some of the best indie bookshops around the country to celebrate and support the work they do. This week is Print: A Bookstore. We spoke with co-owners Emily Russo and Josh Christie, to get a sense of why it’s so beloved.
What’s the best part about being a bookseller/owning a bookstore?
Josh: Since I was a little kid shopping at the Owl and Turtle Bookshop in Camden, the idea of getting to spend my days in a bookstore was a fantasy for me. Now, getting to be surrounded by books all day, put new favorites in customers hands, and bring a new, diverse, super-smart cohort of booksellers into the profession? It’s a dream come true.
Emily: Literally what Josh said, but replace “The Owl and Turtle” with “Bunch of Grapes” on Martha’s Vineyard.
How can readers support indie bookstores most effectively?
Emily: It may be trite, but the best way to support us to shift some or all of your book shopping to independent bookstores. We deliver quickly, we can ship books anywhere and can order anything in print if we don’t have it on our shelves. Customers thinking of us first when they’re shopping for books may seem small, but it has a huge impact.
Josh: Plus, we gift wrap! Another lovely way to support us is by tagging us and talking us up on social media. It’s thrilling and heartening to us to see our store out in the world – especially during a pandemic, when our contact with customers is limited – and it turns on a whole new audience to Print: A Bookstore.
Please describe a career highlight or a favorite event you’ve ever had at the store
Emily: Hands down, Ocean Vuong’s appearance at Print in June 2019 for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. I’ve never seen an audience so rapt.
Josh: Ocean’s reading and conversation with Liberty Hardy truly felt like a once-in-a-lifetime event. I also have incredibly fond memories of our launch party for John Hodgman’s Vacationland. It’s a wonderful collection about Maine as a place and the people that make it so unique, and the event felt like a homecoming for old friends… even though we’d just met John that afternoon.
Emily: Yeah, that too. Let’s call it a tie.
For folks who are shopping for the holidays, what 3-5 books are you recommending the most?
Josh: I’m a big baker, and The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell is a new favorite. In her videos on YouTube Erin brings a fun and humor to baking that is contagious, and the book captures this well. The best book I read this year was Michele Harper’s debut, The Beauty in Breaking, and I’m putting this stunning memoir in as many stockings as I can. I always want to put more poetry into the world (I think everyone is a poetry lover at heart – some just haven’t connected with the right poet), and turn to Button Poetry for their incredible roster of poets. Javon Johnson, Rachel Wiley, Rudy Francisco, and Natasha T. Miller are particular favorites.
Emily: While it doesn’t need my help in the sales department, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half is not only the best book I read this year, but it’s in my top five favorite books of all time. Also on the list: Real Life by Brandon Taylor and Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. For mystery lovers, I’m recommending Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little. Set in the film world, it goes into so much fascinating detail about how editing films work that I almost didn’t care about the who-dun-it. And finally, local authors Lily King’s new novel, Writers & Lovers and Kerri Arsenault’s Mill Town which is a great blend of investigative journalism and memoir.
What are you personally reading right now?
Emily: I’ve spent too many years doing this, so I’m not comfortable unless I’m dipping in and out of 30 books at a time (how else can I effectively recommend stuff?), but if you’re forcing me to answer, I’ll name just a few: Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins, Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Greenwood by Michael Christie, White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayetu Moore and Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar.
Josh: I can only manage a tenth of Emily’s reading power, so I typically just have three books going at a time; a work of fiction, a work of nonfiction, and a graphic novel or poetry collection. To wit, I’m currently juggling Karen Russell’s new novella Sleep Donation, Talia Levin’s dive into the vile world of white supremacy Culture Warlords, and the trade paperback collection of Johnnie Christmas’ Firebug.
Be sure to visit Print Bookstoreif you’re in the area, or shop online on their website. Do good, shop small! Find your local bookstore here and support your community.