Peter Blackshear pulls China: The World’s Oldest Civilization Revealed off the bargain shelf. “It’s put together by an Australian guy, Gordon Cheers,” he murmurs, leafing through it. “He’s kind of a crazy dude, but he makes good books.” Blackshear, co-owner, along with his wife, Megan, of Bookbound, Ann Arbor’s newest bookstore, is the kind of publishing insider who can casually toss off names like Gordon Cheers–even though his name doesn’t appear anywhere inside the book.
“Peter knows where this stuff really comes from, what it goes through to get on the shelf,” Megan explains. He learned the business as the bargain book buyer for the entire Borders empire from 1999 to 2011. But Megan’s background in fundraising for Food Gatherers may be just as useful in figuring out how to run a bookstore in the eBook, Amazon, and post-Borders era.
The Blackshears were mildly surprised that they didn’t sell more of these bargain art and coffee table books during their soft opening week in early September. The China book is a spectacular deal at $30, as is a book of Edward Curtis photos for only $18. But it’s still early.
“We seem to be selling mostly what I’d call ‘reading material in paperback form.’ That sort of implies fiction, but some narrative nonfiction,” Peter says. “History, biography,” Megan puts in. And children’s books. A bookcase refinished by their west-side neighbor, artist and glassblower Ralph Stephenson, demarcates a kind of kids’ area, with a huge, friendly rug on the floor that invites sprawling.
The Blackshears are hoping people will eventually discover the wall of gorgeous hardcover bargain books (to the right, as you walk in). The front table is also liberally sprinkled with bargain trade paperbacks. There are no neon “bargain” labels on them–just discreet white stickers with prices and bar codes that override, and undersell, the list prices printed on the cover.
Bookbound, 1729 Plymouth (Courtyard Shops), 369-4345. Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed Mon. bookboundbookstore.com