And they've carefully enlisted the help of people you could call local book royalty, like Keith Taylor--a poet (and Observer contributor) who, before taking a faculty position at U-M, worked at both Borders and Shaman Drum. In April, he read from his latest poetry book, inaugurating what Lowe calls "a robust events schedule," an indispensable part of the indie-bookstore survival toolkit.
But the most important help came from Joe Gable, who calls himself simply "a friend of the bookstore." Gable was manager of Borders store No. 1 from 1974 to 1996, and it was his erudition, uncompromising standards, and sometimes prickly personality that gave Borders much of its flavor.
"Borders is impossible to replicate these days," Gable points out. In its heyday, Borders had 120,000 titles--Literati hopes to have 10,000. "But that was pre-Internet," Gable notes, "and people perhaps read more and differently. Just to have that amount of square footage is impossible these days."
Gable helped Lowe and Gustafson pick their inventory to make the most of their space, beginning with organizing a backlist for the literary fiction in which Lowe wanted to specialize.