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Owners Shaun Manning and Truly Render and their son Raymond Manning

Bookbound Is Now Booksweet

Shaun Manning and Truly Render fulfill a fifteen-year dream.

by Micheline Maynard

From the October, 2021 issue

In the Courtyard Shops, another business exchange has taken place: Shaun Manning and Truly Render have taken over the space formerly occupied by Bookbound Bookstore and transformed it into Booksweet.

Ann Arbor's high-profile local book stores, Literati and Nicola's, are known for hosting national authors and multiple events. Render says the couple's ambitions are more modest.

"We are not going to be the shop that brings big names to Hill Auditorium," she says. "We have wonderful places that do that already."

Instead, Render says, they aim to be "different and unique" by focusing on the Ann Arbor community-the shop's tag line is "your community bookshop."

In particular, Render says, they want to feature local experts and welcome groups that are concerned with social issues. "We have some real heavy hitters here in the area," she says, "and what a beautiful way to get to know each other."

In August, that approach kicked off with a family book party cohosted with Black Men Read, an organization that celebrates black men as community leaders and storytellers.

Render says she hopes to hold similar events every month (watch their website for details). The gatherings will stay outside until it's too cold, then Render is crafting a plan to hold them safely indoors.

Booksweet is the culmination of a fifteen-year dream for Render, the director of communications and marketing at the Stamps School of Art & Design at U-M, and Manning, a content creator for the U-M School of Education and a former sales and outreach staffer at the University of Michigan Press.

"We always visited the indie book shops in any town we lived in, anywhere we traveled," Render says, and the pair set up a savings account to build a stash for the shop they hoped to buy some day.

When they heard that Bookbound was closing, the couple had "many kitchen- table conversations with many spread sheets, lawyer friends, and fellow business entrepreneurs weighing in" before they decided to sink

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their life savings into the project.

They purchased about 75 percent of Bookbound's inventory, and have since added about 25 percent new material. Highlights include graphic novels, Japanese-inspired manga comics, and books and publications that appeal to middle-school and young-adult readers.

While the pandemic might have deterred others, it spurred the couple to act. "Even if you're going to the grocery store, our lives are a little on the line," Render says. "Whether you stay at nine-to-five jobs, or do something new, it's all a risk, isn't it?"

Booksweet, 1729 Plymouth Rd. (Courtyard Shops), (734) 929-4112. Sun.-Wed. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2021.]


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