Welcome back to our Bookseller Spotlight feature! We asked Nathan Barker to tell us about Kayleighbug Books, of Morristown, New York.
Biblio loves to support independent booksellers…it’s what we are all about!
How did you get started selling books?
I’ve been an avid reader and collector all of my life. When I left the corporate world some fifteen years ago, I sat down and thought about what I REALLY wanted to do for a living and could think of no better idea than to be a bookseller. I did some research and purchased the contents of a science fiction/fantasy bookstore in Florida that was going out of business, got my resale license, filed the papers, and started selling online. A few years ago we acquired a location on Wellesley Island in the Thousand Islands where we retail our antiquarian stock. As the island is primarily occupied by a Victorian Era summer community, our shop there, Riverview Cottage, is an ideal location for an antiquarian bookseller.
Our shop in Morristown, NY (still in the Thousand Islands) is located in an historic, restored manor home. At this time, Kayleighbug Books is pending zoning approval before our general new/used bookstore is open to the public.
How do you view your role as an independent bookseller?
I think independent booksellers serve an important role in a community. In our specific circumstances, there are no other bookstores within 30 miles of our location. When open, our store will serve 2 counties and more than half-a-dozen towns as the only used bookstore in the area. As a new/used store, we can not only fill orders for any book in print that may not be in the store, but we also sell a great many low-cost books for those whose reading appetites may exceed their usual budget. In addition, I specialize in both Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery and Antiquarian titles, giving collectors and genre customers a curated look at their preferred reading areas, offering suggestions and a wealth of knowledge.
We’ll also be eventually hosting signings for many popular Young Adult and Genre authors who reside in Upstate NY, giving those authors a venue to meet local fans that they otherwise rarely have the opportunity to get in touch with – and providing customers with that opportunity to meet some of their favorite authors
Independent Booksellers are able to bring their extensive knowledge to bear in their community, giving their customers access to information and discussion not found in most chain stores or online. A local bookstore helps to foster a love of reading in a community – in young and old alike.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I love books. I always have. I chose to be a bookseller over more profitable careers for that reason alone. I think books are important to our culture and to the agility of our minds. George R. R. Martin wrote, in his popular A Game of Thrones: “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” As a bookseller, I appreciate the circumstances that allow me to pass on that gift to my customers.
What I love though, is the discovery of a new book or author and the ability to talk to them and share their work with others. I often buy bulk lots of books, sight unseen, so that I can open a box full of books having no idea what’s inside it…to sit on the floor with a box like that and sort through them is one of my favorite things in the world.
What do you think of e-books?
I think e-books are great – for certain things. An e-reader is extremely convenient – allowing a reader to carry dozens or hundreds of books with them wherever they go. Many people live in small apartments or move often, travel for their jobs, etc. For those people, an e-reader is a godsend…space and weight become a non-issue.
That convenience is pretty much the only reason I could recommend e-books right now, though. While it may change in the future, the inherent instability of the electronic device and its files, the conflicting formats and reader options, the often-higher cost of the books, and their lack of physicality are just some of the drawbacks that face e-books. I don’t and probably never will see them as a replacement for printed books. Many pundits cite the evolution of music formats for comparison but there are inherent differences between music and printed books. While mp3s may be a logical successor to vinyl or cd’s, I don’t necessarily see ebooks as a successor to printed books, but more of a companion. I have an mp3 player and mp3’s of most of my music collection.. but I still keep (and listen to) my original albums, tapes, and cd’s as well. Mp3’s and ebooks are significantly more portable than the physical original.. but they aren’t a replacement for it.
Who is your favorite local author?
There are several high-profile local authors nearby. Two of my favorites local authors are Charles De Lint (in Ottawa, ON, Canada) and Bruce Coville (in Syracuse, NY). Charles De Lint is typically regarded as one of the fathers of urban fantasy, one of my favorite genres. His books go above and beyond the mass-market fare typically offered though – De Lint’s prose is wonderful to read, and one of his publishers, Subterranean Press, creates beautiful, wonderfully-bound and crafted books that are a joy to read and hold.
Bruce Coville is a children’s/young adult author who has been writing for more than 30 years and has published more than 100 books. I grew up reading his books and my children have done the same.
Do you specialize in any genres?
As I mentioned earlier, I do specialize in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery. Being the only bookstore in the area, however, means that I don’t stock only those genres, but carry virtually everything else as well. The specialization means that I tend to have a much higher percentage of those genres than other stores might and that my knowledge of those areas is much more extensive. I’ve spent more than 20 years educating myself in those genres and in the antiquarian book trade as well. Along the way I’ve become conversant with most fiction genres and authors, and some specialized areas of non-fiction as well.
Kayleighbug Books on Biblio: https://www.biblio.com/bookstore/kayleighbug-books-morristown
Kayleighbug Books Official Website: http://www.kayleighbug.com/
Riverview Cottage Books
Address: 42753 County Route 100 Wellesley Island, NY
Phone (315) 778-2400 or (315) 482-6907
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10AM – 5PM, closed Sundays
Morristown, NY store is open by appt. only. Please call: (315) 750-4042