The physical bookstore seems to be making a renaissance of late. More and more, people seek the warm personal touch of a knowledgeable employee in the place of detached star ratings and cursory reviews. The competition with the convenience of online retailers is still fierce, but indie bookstores across the nation are flourishing in a climate fanned to life by a yearning for a more communal connection to the literary world. This trend certainly seems to be holding true for Louisvilleâ€™s oldest independent purveyor of books: Carmichaelâ€™s.
Carol Besse and Michael Boggs first openedÂ the doors of Carmichaelâ€™s 38 years ago. They used their first names to form a portmanteau title for their bookstore, and it has remained family-owned and run ever since, boasting three separate locations as of the opening of Carmichaelâ€™s Kids in 2014. Their stalwart mission has been to supply the Louisville community with a diverse selection of literature for readers of all ages as well as a knowledgeable and gregarious staff.
As alluring as those resources are, they donâ€™t mean much on their own, especially when potential customers are unaware of them. One solution that Carmichaelâ€™s has arrived at to combat the issue is the creation of events to engage their customers and the larger Louisville community. Kelsey Thompson serves as Carmichaelâ€™s events and community outreach coordinator, and one would be hard-pressed to find a more committed and enthusiastic person for the position: â€œMy job is pretty exciting in that I get to work with several of these local writers, as well as some non-local, to help get the word out there about their work. These events are such a vital part of what makes Carmichaelâ€™s so special to this community, and Iâ€™m thrilled to play a role in that.â€
As previously mentioned, Thompson often organizes events having to do with the marketing of new books by writers both local and non-local. â€œGenerally, weâ€™re approached by a writer or publisher who is interested in having an event at our store. Once weâ€™ve decided that an event is something that weâ€™re interested in doing, we get the author on our calendar, and we take it from there,â€ she says. Thompson goes on to say that in events such as these, Carmichaelâ€™s is happy to remain the facilitator for the author and what he or she has to say about their work. â€œOftentimes, an author will have a presentation of some kind, a discussion, question-and-answer session, a lecture, etc. followed by a book signing. The book signing is great because audience members will get a chance to personally meet the writer and take home not only a signed book but a memory that they will forever associate with it,â€ informs Thompson.
Thompson also often collaborates with Rebecca Bernstein, the events coordinator at Carmichaelâ€™s Kids, on events that are more geared toward children and exposing them to classic childrenâ€™s literature. â€œWeâ€™ve hosted Harveyâ€™s House Rabbit Rescue to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pat the Bunny, a very successful Harry Potter party and our annual Polar Express Party â€“ this yearâ€™s being held at the Kentucky Science Center with special guest author Chris Van Allsburg,â€ she says. Thatâ€™s certainly exciting and appropriately full of the flair and zest for imagination that children require at an impressionable age to spark a lifelong love for reading.
A recent event was held at Carmichaelâ€™s Kids on January 16 at 11 a.m. â€œSara Soltau, education programs manager at Classical 90.5, used â€˜The Story of Ferdinand the Bullâ€™ to lead a musical storytelling workshop. This workshop gave the kids participating an opportunity to have their voices recorded and later heard on the radio!â€ says Thompson excitedly. And the events donâ€™t stop there: Ryan Clark and Joe Cox will do a presentation and book signing of their â€œThe Kentucky Wildcats Fansâ€™ Bucketlistâ€ on January 28; Bob and Vicky Ullrich will similarly present their work, â€œGermans in Louisvilleâ€ â€“ a popular item this holiday season according to Thompson â€“ on February 4; and on February 11, Garth Greenwell will present, discuss and sign his debut novel, â€œWhat Belongs to You.â€ Publishers Weekly calls it â€œthe first great novel of 2016,â€ so it is an event that should not be missed.
With an event calendar as full and diverse as that, itâ€™s no wonder that Carmichaelâ€™s is still succeeding. We should all aspire to read more in 2016, so what are you waiting for? Pick a date, walk into a Carmichaelâ€™s and step into world of fresh, new and exciting knowledge. VT