Borders’ bankruptcy last year and the endless hype about e-books sent a collective shiver through the city’s remaining booksellers, who also had seen Shaman Drum close in 2009. But as of mid-December, sales at Nicola’s Books were up “very substantially,” reports owner Nicola Rooney. Mystery novel store Aunt Agatha’s and Motte & Bailey, a specialist in handsome used hardcovers, also report increases. “This is our best year in three years,” says Motte owner Gene Alloway. Alloway suspects that Borders’ demise shook the conscience of the reading faithful. “So many people are really worried about bookshops closing,” he says. “I think people are making a bit of an effort.”

Since Borders closed, Rooney says, she’s seen more requests for “poetry and literary books,” so she’s expanding those sections. And through mid-December, she’d sold an astounding 1,000 copies of Ann Arborite John U. Bacon’s Three and Out, about Rich Rodriguez’s unhappy tenure as the U-M’s football coach. At least at her Westgate store, Rooney says, Bacon is “up in the company of Mitch Albom and J.K. Rowling.”