I live just outside of a small Cambridge village in upstate New York, right on the Vermont border. An anomaly is right in the middle of town, a thriving independent bookstore on Main Street in a small agricultural town, with perhaps a dozen shops and restaurants all told.
In the age of Amazon and the Kindle and Alexa and all kinds of online shopping, Battenkill Books is just not supposed to exist, certainly not a beautiful store with thousands of current books and three book-loving employees plus the owner, Connie Brooks, a superhero of the book world to me.
She isn’t supposed to exist any longer either, perhaps she is a magical Book Witch.
Her store is chock full of books. And people. And kids (she has a kids book section.) All my dogs are happy there.
Conny is a savvy business person and a savvy book lover, and she would be the first to admit that is not a simple or easy combination to mix. She does it with grace, patience, and good taste. She is also a wonderful mother and wife.
She does it with lots of fiercely loyal customers who appreciate her. Connie has weathered Amazon, e-books, savage storms, recessions, great recessions, a pandemic (maybe two), and the most brutal book-selling market a number of times in many years.
It seems book lovers are not yet ready to abandon the book or the bookstore. Connie ought to get a plaque or a medal.
I don’t know how she does it, but I am grateful to her for doing it.
When I was still writing books, some of my most cherished and memorable moments were the big signings I did in the store. My cherished moments now include browsing in Battenkill or picking up the books I order from Heather or Eve or Kate or Connie. It is always a pleasure to see them.
Dogs and kids are welcome there, but especially people who love to read and they feel welcome there. What a treasure to have a first-rate indy bookstore in our very small town halfway to Canada from New York City.
Whatever Connie has, she ought to package and market it.
It would have to be a bestseller. For years, I ordered books from Amazin, it was so convenient and quick, and even as an author, I was wary of arrogant bookstore owners who ridiculed the idea of Customer Satisfaction and alienated millions of Americans with their snootiness.
Bookstores are changing and for the better. Caring about customers and treating them well is not immoral or a crime. Amazon sells an awful lot of books.
Connie was way ahead. of the game.
Everyone who steps into the store is made to feel welcome, not stupid, and anyone who needs help gets it in seconds. That kind of stuff works.
Battenkill is full of kids, families, book lovers.
I don’t click on Amazon any longer when I want a book, I click on Connie’s phone number and am happy to run down to the bookstore and see what’s new. Connie’s bookshelves are dependably current.
Very few people in America live in a small town like this and have a bookstore that would shine in Manhattan. I know, I used to live there. How lucky we are.