Sweet Like Books

Fans of Bookbound Bookstore received heartbreaking news this spring when owners Megan and Peter Blackshear announced that it would be closing in July. But just as everyone was starting to entertain the dreaded thought of life without a bookstore on the Northside, Bookbound made an exciting announcement: a new bookstore would be taking its place! Of course, the news did not eliminate the sadness of losing such a beloved place, but it did take the sting out of it a bit. Could the spirit of Bookbound live on in a new form?

Shaun Manning and his family think so. Longtime Bookbound customers and residents of the Northside, when they learned Bookbound was closing, they wondered if a dream of theirs could come true. “My wife and I had imagined opening up a bookstore at some point, but you know, we might’ve liked to have six months to a year to plan that! But when we heard that Bookbound was closing, we just started thinking, ‘Can we do this?’”

While the opportunity to buy a bookstore was an exciting one, Shaun had a big decision to make. He had just started a new job four months ago, as a full-time writer at the University of Michigan’s School of Education, a very rare opportunity and another dream of his. But he made his decision and hasn’t looked back. “I have no regrets. I’m very excited to be doing this.”

The new bookstore will be called Booksweet, and it’s very much going to be a family affair. The vision for what the store will be is a collaboration between Shaun, his wife Truly Render, and their soon-to-be 12-year-old, Raymond. Even the name was a family decision. “We were discussing a lot of names, batting things amongst the family and we hit on this idea of ‘book sweet.’ You know, ‘sweet like honey.’ It’s cute, it’s cozy, it has the vibe we liked and it seemed like it could go well for us.”

Truly is the Director of Communications and Marketing at the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design, so Shaun will oversee the day-to-day operations of the business, but Truly and Raymond will provide reviews and recommendations. They would also like to create a mechanism for customers to provide reviews that can be featured in newsletters or even on the shelves.

In addition to Shaun, there will be an employee who will help with store operations and allow Shaun to take a couple of days off each week. “I’m looking for someone, on the one hand, whose values in what they bring to the bookstore are similar to mine, but also who is not me and can bring the things I might be weaker in or who has a different perspective on what they like to read.”

Because Booksweet plans to open just weeks after Bookbound closed, the space will feel quite familiar to regular Bookbound customers. And that’s a good thing. “Peter and Megan had such a great shop. It was somewhere that we just really felt welcome and we want Booksweet to be a place you can go and talk about books, and it’s very affirming and it’s more the feeling of reading books on your couch or hammock or something.” Of course, Booksweet isn’t trying to be another Bookbound, and there will be changes. In addition to a new awning and different shelf displays, there will be additions and changes to the inventory, including an expanded selection of middle grade and young adult graphic novels. There will also be a window mural painted by Lauren McHale, a current student at UM’s Stamps School.

Booksweet will have a storefront on bookshop.org, and will sell books directly on their website to offer a store pickup option. They are already planning store events, the first being a Community Open House on Thursday, August 12th from 5 pm to 8 pm. The event will include a poetry reading by Dearborn native and recent Stamps School graduate Tarik Dobbs, music by local singer-songwriter, Ki5, and cookies from Karmen’s Kitchen.

Booksweet plans to open Friday, August 6th. Their hours will be Sunday-Wednesday 10 am to 6 pm and Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 8 pm. Visit shopbooksweet.com for more information on Ann Arbor’s newest indie, and sign up for their newsletter to stay up-to-date on their latest news!

–Rachel Pastiva