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Judy Blume: Author, Teacher, Bookseller

2048Author Judy Blume is well known for her YA and kids books, and now she has added a new accolade for her c.v.: bookseller.

The Guardian and USA Today report that Blume has opened a bookstore in Key West, Florida:

New Jersey-born author Judy Blume and husband George Cooper now spend a good part of the year in Key West. They love the town, take great pride in its heritage, and have become intimately involved in the culture of their adopted city.

Blume is galvanized: "We just opened a bookstore!  We’ve had no full service bookstore of any kind for years and were desperate for one. There’s such a strong literary tradition here."

Key West lost three in 2011: Borders Express, Voltaire Books, and Bargain Books, leaving just one – Key West Island Books. Owner Suzanne Orchard depicts her own shop as a funky, old-school browsing opportunity, specializing in used and rare books.

Blume said: "We’ve been after Mitch for five years to open a store in Key West but it never worked out.  He eventually told us, 'If you and George can find a good space and make it work, I’ll do it.' "

According to PW, the new store is located on the first floor of the building that houses The Studios of Key West, a non-profit group which supports the local artist community through classes, an artist residency program, etc.

The bookstore is about 1,200 square feet in size, and in addition to selling books the store also has an art supply room. "Selection is broad as well as deep. We have over 2,500 titles on more than 75 running feet of wooden shelves," Blume said. "We have fiction, nonfiction, bestsellers, poetry, art and architecture titles, and magazines, and we’ll include the work of local authors.  We’ve designed it to be a community center for readers and writers.

Most of the customers are tourists who are excited to see a "real bookstore". "They’re real readers, not simply beach readers," Blume said. "They’re buying wildly, and we talk to people from everywhere. I think it’s happening all over the country – people want a local, independent bookstore."

The customers are served by two full-time employees along with volunteers from among the snowbirds who make the annual migration to Florida.

image via Judy Blume

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Hannah Steenbock May 25, 2016 um 5:51 am

I do wish her lots of luck with her "bookstore", especially if she is turning it into "a community center for readers and writers". I like that she’s focusing on local authors.

However, if she needs volunteers to run the store, it’s not truly financially viable. And it’s not really a bookstore then, either, but a community project… nothing wrong with that, but the hype is directed at the wrong label.

Nate Hoffelder May 26, 2016 um 9:26 pm

Yes, that really makes me wonder about the people crowing about the indie bookstore revival. They point to this one, which is dependent on donations and volunteers.

That’s not exactly a good example of a healthy concept.

MKS May 27, 2016 um 12:12 am

Funny. Amazon pays its employees, but it’s considered evil? Indie authors give away books for free, but they are part of devaluing Literature? Yet a bookstore staffed by volunteers is praiseworthy…go figure.

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