One Humble Post, One Thousand Online Sales

Braun Court, located in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown, is a colorful place. In the summer, there is plenty of outdoor seating, with strings of lights overhead to brighten up the evening, outside the bright yellow sign with a pink triangle of the Aut Bar and the six-colored rainbow flag of the LGBT community proudly displayed outside locally owned and operated bookstore Common Language, waving like a friendly beacon to a special kind of booklover, like me.

Common Language is welcoming to everyone, and upon entering, I am immediately enamored by the warmth and hominess of its painted accent walls and unique layout (Braun Court was comprised of private homes before the buildings were converted to businesses in the 1980s). There is even a dog, Duke, to greet you, with tail wagging, and show you around (he’s very good at his job).Recently, Common Language has enjoyed a bit of international celebrity thanks to a Tumblr post on April 16th by user dadrielle, who saw a Common Language Facebook update about low book sales. A former Ann Arbor resident, she was moved to buy a few books from Common Language’s website and asked others to consider doing the same. People responded – in droves.

Not only was the original Tumblr post seen by at least 200,000 fellow users, but the story was picked up by pop culture website the Mary Sue on April 19th, and word of our own community bookstore spread. Over 1,000 online orders came in from all across the world (the stacks of order print-outs Common Language employee Kevin showed me were inches thick!), and Facebook likes went up 200%. This was a vital and incredible “shot in the arm,” as Common Language’s Facebook says, for this independent store that has allowed bills to be paid and new books ordered.

But we in Ann Arbor don’t need to shop online, we can head to Kerrytown seven days a week to visit this incredible unique and independent bookstore that needs our ongoing support. Find graphic novels, children’s books, fiction, and nonfiction. Special order a book you don’t see. If you like ebooks, head to Common Language’s website ( where you can shop for ebooks via Kobo. And if book clubs are your thing, the Braun Court Resistance Army: Book Club meets once a month, and Common Language supplies books for the Rainbow Book Club with a 10% discount. Don’t know what you’re looking for? They are happy to offer recommendations. In their own words, “that’s one of the things which makes a bricks and mortar store special. Caring book lovers who can help you find something you enjoy.

”Sales are still up, shared Kevin, but have tapered off some from the initial boost. He also said that the Tumblr post has brought in several customers who didn’t know the store was there, from a guy who has lived in Kerrytown for the past four years to a couple of students from Oakland University who drove in especially to visit the store.The online support and sales have been wonderful and touching (many personal stories have been shared with the book orders) to all at Common Language, but they are first and foremost a brick and mortar store and a beloved part of our Ann Arbor community. They have always had our backs. We should have theirs. “No book sales today” is a Facebook update we never want to see again!

–Crysta Coburn
Featured in June 2018 newsletter