New Place to Find Great Reads: Shelfjoy

You ever have trouble finding a new book to read, though there are so many places that try to help. Goodreads helps make connections with friends and make lists of books you have read, want to read, or find giveaways for new books you like, but it doesn’t help find recommendations from people who really know what they’re talking about. Here is a place that maybe able to help: shelfjoy.

Selfjoy is a more social media style of sharing books. The experts in the publishing industry are reading the newest books and sharing their views, these are the guys who know what’s in and what’s out. These are the people who can spot the trends before they are trends. So if you want a place to help you find the greatest books before reading them just feels like jumping on the bandwagon, shelfjoy maybe a great option for you! It’s easy to sign up, looking over shelves is easy, and you’ll never have to feel left out again.

I enjoy looking through all of shelfjoy’s different shelves and options; no matter what kind of books you love most, you’ll find experts on them. They have buy links, expert reviews, and everyday reviews to help you find the best read for you. You’ll actually enjoy working with online shelves. 

 

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Independent Book Review

 

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44 South Main Street
New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-2452
farleysbookshop.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farley’s Bookshop ~ New Hope, PA
by Nico Diaz

Few things stir the imagination of book lovers more than the unmistakeable scent of books. The crisp essence of possibility juxtaposed with the familiarity of past adventures. This is the smell that greets customers the moment they enter Farley’s Bookshop. Gone is the antiseptic feel of corporate giants.
Perfectly organized shelves and spacious aisles? No, thank you.
An attached cafe where one can sip lattes while posturing? Nope.
With narrow aisles and shelves of varying height bursting with books, Farley’s is a book lover’s paradise. A venerable warren of undiscovered treasures. The vibe here, the aesthetic, is more Cape Cod summer home than place of business. And like rooms of a house, each one here is themed. The back room, for example, the one dedicated to children’s books and YA fiction, looks like it was decorated by kids, for kids. Another room is dedicated to books on history, political science and nature. There’s an entire room for discounted books. In the main area—where the living room would be—new releases and best sellers are displayed alongside cult favorites. Stephen King sits beside Jack Kerouac; James Patterson next to Chuck Palahniuk (whose autographed banana balloon hovers above it all).

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But what truly separates Farley’s from other independent bookstores, what solidifies their indie ethos, is their vast selection of titles by small presses, independent authors and poets. It isn’t unusual to find area authors set up outside, signing books. This isn’t so much a bookshop as it is a local institution, a cultural staple. A community within a community.

 

Nestled in the heart of New Hope, a suburb of Philadelphia long known as a bastion of counterculture, Farley’s was founded in 1967 by Jim Farley—with a little financial help from Fred Rodgers (yes, Mr. Rodgers), who he had befriended at seminary. A few months later, a school teacher named Nancy Stitchberry visited the bookshop. She and Farley fell in love, married and started a family. They eventually passed the torch to their daughters, Jenn and Rebekah.

As the store closes in on its 50th anniversary, I sat down with Jenn Farley to discuss literature, the ebb and flow of book-selling trends, and what it takes to develop a loyal customer base. The word family came up quite a bit.

“Most of our employees are lifers,” she said with a wry grin. “Julian has been with us since I was a teenager. Buffy, Charlie and Mike have each been here more than ten years. Christina and Josh, long time.” When I asked what that was like, balancing friendships and business, she said, “We laugh, we fight, we love one another. We’re family. One big dysfunctional family.”

And, really, what family is complete without a pet?

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Ask anyone in the area about Farley’s, and invariably, they will mention Butter. He’s the family cat. The store mascot. He can usually be found napping somewhere in the aisles.

Customers are greeted warmly by an exceedingly knowledgeable staff. A cursory conversation with anyone behind the counter can easily turn into an in-depth literary exchange. The good folks at Farley’s know books. Both William Hastings and Josh Myers are published authors.

In an era where Amazon has caused many independent bookshops to fold, Jenn Farley is confident in the store’s ability to exist, and even thrive, in a tourist-driven town. Apart from the revenue generated by out-of-town visitors, Farley’s has cultivated a loyal local customer base.

“Other than that,” Farley said, “we try to be creative. We sometimes partner with either Bucks County Playhouse or one of the local schools to host large-scale book signings. That’s how we brought in Jeff Kinney (author of the New York Times Best Seller Diary of a Wimpy Kid). We were able to sell four-hundred copies in a day.”

Doing the math in my head, I suggested that the event was a success.

A warm smile spread across her face. She adjusted her glasses. “I love the feeling of putting a book in a kid’s hand.”

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Jackson Hole’s Book Comminity Center

WP_20160226_040What is a bookshop? Is it just another store? Is it a place holding hundreds of worlds and stories just waiting to be discovered? Is it a treasure trove of knowledge? It could be just one or all of these? Perhaps but for the Jackson, Wyoming community, the Valley Bookstore is so much more. It is a community stronghold, literary center and beloved treasure, hidden down an ally of one of Jackson Hole’s main thoroughfares.
Steve and Anne Ashley decided 45 years ago to set up their bookstore in Jackson Hole. He had always loved books, and with an Ivy League education and his passion for books to fuel him, he decided to take try his hand at being a bookseller.

The store has faced several struggles over the years. When the “Big Box” stores first emerged, such as Barnes and Nobles, Borders and Books-A-Million, local book stores felt the strain. The Valley Bookstore had to downsize to keep their doors open. But that didn’t deter the faithful owners and workers. Then another blow and a second downsize came when the mass media of e-books and digital media came into the market.

WP_20160226_014Bookstores weren’t the only ones to feel the strain of the online media revolution. Jackson Hole lost its music store in the treacherous waves that plagued the bookstores, music stores and movie industries. So while these others store broke down under the strain, how has the Valley Bookstore kept its doors open?

To sum it up in a word? Community.

The Valley Bookstore has come to stand for and mean more to the locals than just being a stop to pick up a new book. The workers there have been on the staff at least ten years. They all are there for their love of books. The workers are all passionate, friendly, and excited to help customers. No one is getting rich off these independent books stores. Most workers make at best $8 an hour. For them, it’s “a labor of love” Said Karilyn Brodell, who has worked at the store for about 25 years.

The store itself shows the love and passion the workers and locals have for books. The store is lovingly organized with handwritten signs, decorated with pictures of local authors, and when someone walks in they’re greeted with a happy smile. This pleasant greeting is then followed by an offer of help to find what you’re looking for.

WP_20160226_024The store matches the rest of the city. The walls are made of wood, all the decorations are wood, and for decoration there are deer sheds. The store blends in and becomes one with the rest of the shops of the town. It really is about being a part of the community, and the store shares it. In the kids’ corner, there is even a reading nook carved into a tree truck. The woods and nature that are a core of this community are not lost inside its beloved bookstore.

But the best part is the checkout. As you being rung up, the workers strike a pleasant conversation about the customer’s life. The locals in the store can stay for hours just chatting with the booksellers about what happened since their last visit, about the book they just picked up and another you may want to pick up when you’ve finished your new treasure.

And the store is full of treasures. They sell all kind of books, new books and even a shelf of hard-to-find books. At the front, they have books about the local area and guide books. Just behind that, they have two shelves full of books by local authors. The rest of the store is full of just what you’d expect, books you’d like find in any other bookshop, but with limited stock, they strive to provide only the best books.

Steve Ashley has a superb knowledge of his business. Brodell credits the success of the store to his understanding of the needs of the locals. Though the tourist trade is key to the survival of the store, the real magic is in the work Mr. Ashley has done with the local area. Brodell said the store was far more than a store, but more of a “Institution” for literature in the area. The locals know it and respect its influence on the area. Gene Lewis, executive director of the local children’s museum, said it was a great store and the Ashleys great community supporters.

Mr. Ashley has a talent for digging out the golden quality books. The store is well known for having books up a higher quality than you’d find at the truck stores or local grocery stores. Visitors and locals alike know to come into the store to find a quality book to enjoy over their vacations.

WP_20160226_016Though all these factors are key, the biggest factor may be their community outreach. Every Sunday night, Mr. Ashley can be found selling books at the local arts center. The store holds many community events outside the store. He strives to be an integral part of the community. “A lot of it boils down to building a legacy, to building a reputation.” Brodell said. “It’s one of the iconic businesses of Jackson Hole, a place that the community can come to.” It’s a center for literature in the area.

Because they are open seven days a week, they are a helpful spot for locals. “We’ll go the extra yard, mile, for anyone to do anything,” Brodell says with a smile. If a customer needs a package picked up, one of the workers will go and pick it up for them and hold it for them until the customer comes in to pick up his or her new book order.

It’s a unique community center to ask about things that may not even be book-related. They are the helpful place to have your questions answered about the area: whether about books, finding a good place to eat or learning the history of the area. There is a powerful relationship between the store and the local customers.

WP_20160226_035It isn’t just the workers who think so. Three middle school/high school aged girls came into the store fluttering with excitement. They are frequent visitors of the store and love their little patch of heaven. As they peruse the shelves, they chat about each book they’ve already read, or would love to read if they could buy more than one that day. They talk fondly of how that bookstore helped create their love of reading.

How? As the local community center for literature, Valley Bookstore adds on to the local book fair at the schools. Because of these events, these three girls have found a love of reading, of the store and of the stories they find hidden in the pages of the books. Their excitement and love for the work shines in their happy voices, big smiles, then sudden silence as they begin reading back covers and ‘about the author’ sections to find their next treasure of the week.

“We’re good at what we do,” Brodell says. They want to share their love of books with the locals and the tourists, and both would agree they do a marvelous job. There are few places that have such a love embedded into the walls.

Mr. Ashley emphasizes this greatly. His goal is to go the extra mile to support the local love of books, reading and learning. ‘Try not to say no to anything,’ Brodell says he tells them over and over again. He’s all about customer service.

WP_20160226_020As well as community outreach for readers, Mr. Ashley works hard to have outreach with local authors too. Brodell says they strive to have at least one copy of all the local author’s work. Even if it’s on an obscure subject. It’s all about having that community support in the area, for readers, for writers and for those who haven’t yet discovered the magic of books.

They even have a shelf of just the Jackson Hole authors that you can select from. They hold a writer’s conference here most every June/July season. Valley Bookstore sets up huge tables of the books for the local authors to sell to those who come to the conference to find new books, connect with other authors or learn about the literature of the area.

Though bookstores are becoming rarer by the day, Valley Bookstore shows no signs of leaving anytime soon. What is the Valley Bookstore? It’s a community center, supporting the communities’ love of books.

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