It makes sense. If your choices are the completely impersonal and convenient online experience, the hands-on big-box experience, or the hands-on curated experience, the lukewarm middle option provides the fewest benefits. Bowe and Gerson relish that personal connection (Bowe's top picks right now are Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, by Brady Udall), which can also help break down the cost barrier — consumers might be more willing to make a purchase if it has been specifically recommended to them.
"I see indie booksellers — it's a bad metaphor," Bowe warns me before continuing, "as a sort of Catcher in the Rye. We all have limited reading time and we're here to direct you. I think we've been doing a pretty good job. We stake our reputation on that."
SPEAKING OF BOOKISHNESS...
The title of 25-year-old Josh Christie's blog, BrewsAndBooks.com, says it all. If you're a beer-lover or a books-lover — or (hopefully) both — add Christie's blog to your bookmarks.
The University of Maine grad, who majored in English, found himself in a classic position post-graduation: working at a warehouse. "I felt mentally like I was atrophying a bit," he recalls. So Christie, who works these days at another of Maine's indie bookshops (Sherman's, in Freeport), started the blog as a place to collect his thoughts and musings on two of his favorite topics. It has fermented nicely.
"It's way more than I initially thought it was going to be," says Christie, who blogs at least every few days, posts podcasts and interviews, and appears to read constantly. Supportive followers sponsored a May trip to BookExpo America, and he posts regularly at the popular site RateBeer.com.
Recent BrewsAndBooks posts include "Five Worlds in Literature I Don't Want to Visit;" a podcast in which Christie discusses with other book lovers Mockingjay (the latest installment in the young-adult Hunger Games series); a customized book-and-beer comic from local author Phoebe Potts; and an interview with Nathan Sanborn, the founder of Rising Tide, Maine's newest craft brewery.
"It's about being excited about books and wanting to share that with other people," he says. Cheers to that.
CHRISTIE'S RECENT FAVES
Room, by Emma Donoghue
Mr Peanut, by Adam Roth
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Southern Tier Pumking ("The most intense pumpkin beer I've ever had.")
Find Josh Christie drinking and reading at the Great Lost Bear (greatlostbear.com).
CELEBRATING THE DECADE
Throughout the next few weeks, Longfellow Books is staging a serial commemoration of its 10th anniversary. Here are several events coming up — plus there will be some kind of party at the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled on these pages and at longfellowbooks.com.
Olive Kitteredge on stage at Portland Stage
The Portland Stage Company Affiliate Artists will hold a dramatic reading from Elizabeth Strout's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, Olive Kitteredge, some readings from Strout's favorite works, and a question-and-answer session with Strout herself. | October 18 @ 7 pm | Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave, Portland | Pay-what-you-can
In-store reading by Brock Clarke
Brock Clarke, a just-hired Bowdoin College professor of English and creative writing, will read from his new novel, Exley. Clarke, a Pushcart Prize winner, also wrote An Arsonist's Guide to New England; the new book is out October 5. | October 21 @ 7 pm | Longfellow Books, 1 Monument Way, Portland | Free