11 June 09 | Chad W. Post

This is already old news, but last week Jessica Stockton Bagnulo announced she had signed the lease and Greenlight Bookstore now has an official address: 86 Fulton Street in Fort Greene. If all goes according to plan, the store will officially open in September.

It’s great to see this finally happen . . . For as long as I’ve known Jessica, she’s been working on her plan to open her own bookstore. She’s worked at a number of indie stores in New York, wrote extensive strategic plans (which even won her some cash), and thought this all through very, very carefully.

I have complete faith that Jessica will do everything right in terms of launching this store (like displaying a lot of Open Letter titles, right Jessica? Right?), and from what I’ve heard she nailed down the perfect location. Congrats to Jessica and be sure to check out the Greenlight Bookstore blog for further updates.

In stark contrast to Jessica’s wonderful news comes this statement from 3P favorite, Karl Pohrt:

On the advice of my accountant and my business manager, I am closing Shaman Drum Bookshop June 30. Despite a first rate staff, a fiercely loyal core of customers, a very decent landlord and my own commitment to the community of arts and letters in Ann Arbor, it is clear to me that the bookshop is not a sustainable business.

In spite of the downturn in the economy, Ann Arbor continues to be an excellent book town. There are wonderful independent stores here (Crazy Wisdom, Nicolas’s Books), fine specialty book stores (Vault of Midnight, Aunt Agatha’s) and great used bookshops (Dawn Treader, West Side Books, Motte & Bailey). They need your support.

Over a year ago we began a process to become a non-profit center for the literary arts. I am decoupling Shaman Drum Bookshop from the Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, which should simplify and streamline our IRS application. I will pursue this new venture after we close the store.

Shaman Drum Bookshop has been here for 29 years. We had 28 good years. Thank you for your support. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a bookseller in Ann Arbor.

-Karl Pohrt

We live in a world in which the community of Ann Arbor—Ann freaking Arbor, the home of one of the best universities in the country—can’t support an independent bookstore. As Karl wrote, it seems like a perfect storm of things went wrong to sink Shaman Drum, but still . . . If there’s one city in the Midwest that should have enough intelligent readers to support an indie store, it’s Ann Arbor. My faith has been shaken . . .

Karl’s a close friend, and I know that he’ll come out of this OK. Very interested to see what happens with the Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, but from now on, I know that every trip through Ann Arbor will be incomplete. . .


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