A year ago, on his blog Praeterita, Philip Hartigan published this interview with Suzy Takacs, proprietor of the very fine independent bookstore The Book Cellar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. As Borders closes its doors, we are reminded how important it is that we all frequent and support our local bookstores. To paraphrase what someone else said, we don’t need to worry about the future of publishing, we need to consider the future of reading. Why not buy a book today?
Here then, is the conversation between Philip and Suzy:
Philip: In a former incarnation you were a nurse practitioner. When did you discover the burning desire to open a bookstore?
Suzy: I have always been an avid reader. As a child, my mom had a hard time keeping enough books around for me to read. After being a nurse for sixteen years, I began thinking about making a life change. I thought I should get out of the rat race and work in a book store. My husband suggested I open my own bookstore. There wasn’t one quite near to where we live and I always thought we could use one in our part of the city . I met with the Chamber of Commerce Presidents of Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, and North Center, together with the alderman, and I presented my business plan. As luck would have it, they were trying to recruit an independent bookstore at that time.
Philip: What is it that makes The Book Cellar so different?
Suzy: The people who work here. There is a human touch and connection with the books we read and love and our hopes in recommending a book for our customers that they will read and love. We are a community meeting place for lots of events both literary and otherwise. We also help to make Lincoln Square a unique neighborhood and a destination in the city for those that live here, and for travelers as well. Plus we have my favorite combination: books and wine.
Philip: In the age of Borders, Amazon, and E-Readers, how do you attract browsers and readers to The Book Cellar?
Suzy: A personal connection to our customers and good service. We also host many literary and non-literary events so there are many reasons to visit the store. Quite soon we will be adding a shopping cart to our website so people can shop for both print books and E-books 24/7. [The Book Cellar now sells Google EBooks -PMc]
Philip: What are you reading at the moment?
Suzy: “Toad’s Museum of Freaks and Wonders” by Goldie Goldbloom, “Finny” by Justin Kramon, and “Paris Wife” by Paula McClain. It’s never just one.
Philip: Looking into your crystal ball, what do you see in the future for independent bookstores?
Suzy: I envision indie bookstores continuing to be places to get a great book recommendation, places that make a neighborhood or town unique and interesting, places that contribute to the community as a resource for entertainment, or for communing with books through book groups, and so on.
Philip: As they say on the best interview shows: “Suzy Takacs, owner of The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, Chicago: Thank you very much.”
→Thank you, Philip Hartigan, for permitting us to reprint this interview from Praeterita, August 2010. – PMc←