This blog is still a new creation and I have many ideas that I want to explore for it, but something that is vitally important to me is sharing a love for independent bookstores. This is actually one of the reasons why I try to always share Bookshop.org and Libro.fm links to books as they give back a portion of their sales to supporting independent bookstores.
To better include my love of bookshops, I decided that an Indie Bookstore of the Month would be a fantastic way to achieve said goal. So, when my husband, friends, and I planned a few days away in the Poconos I searched for a bookstore to visit. I am so glad that I found Sellers Books + Art to go to!
Due to being high risk if I caught Covid-19, I spent almost the entirety of the pandemic quarantined at home. Now that I am vaccinated, I have been dipping my toes out into the world, but it’s been an overwhelming process. That in and of itself will be another post, but the relevant point here is that this was the first bookstore that I had visited since before the pandemic.
To be surrounded by something that one loves must always be a joyful thing. Yet, a bookstore is more than joyful to me; it is sacred. Independent bookstores have always moved me into a rapturous state. They move me with a gluttonous lust for all the tomes and a frenzied headiness of not knowing where to look first, what I will discover next, and the wonderment of what I will be lucky enough to bring home with me.
I went into the bookstore with two of my closest friends. The bookstore owner greeted us kindly, but allowed us to peruse the bookstore at our leisure (this is definitely my preference as I am an independent shopper). Before we got into exploring the space, he let us know that there was a special that day, 10% off purchases.
My darling best friend selecting books for my nephew and a gorgeous edition of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm that I had never seen before. My other wonderful friend found a sequel to a book that she read a while back that she hadn’t realized existed. I selected The House on Mango Street, The Penguin Book of Witches, and The Bloody Chamber.
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The store itself is one large and long room with an open back area. The shelves are filled with a mix of gently used and new paperbacks and hardcovers with some special editions as well. For a modestly sized space, it offers many wonderful selections.
From the bookstore website, www.sellersbooks.com, they offer the following subjects and genres:
Architecture & Urban Studies
Art & Photography
Biography / Memoir
Black & African Studies
Children’s / Young Adult
Collectibles / Vintage (small selection)
DIY / Crafts
Fiction & Literature
Film & Showbiz
Food / Cooking
Foreign Language (mostly French & Spanish)
Gardening / Sustainable Living
Gender & LGBTQ Studies
Graphic Novels / Manga
Health & Healing
History (Ancient, World, U.S. etc.)
Holiday Books (seasonal)
Horror / Ghosts
Local Authors / Local Studies
Military / Espionage
Music (rock, jazz, classical, dance)
Mystery / Thriller
Nature & Outdoors
Psychology & Self-Help
Religion & Spirituality
Romance / Women’s Lit / Historical Fiction
Science / Math
Science Fiction / Fantasy
Sexuality & Erotica
Sports / Martial Arts
Theater / Shakespeare
Travel / Adventure
UFOs / Cryptozoology / Unexplained
Wicca / Magic / Occult
I had a rudimentary list of questions in case I decided that I did want to feature the bookstore, and when I asked the store owner if he would be interested in being featured on my blog, he answered that he was. We had a wonderful conversation and I am truly grateful for his time, his gameness in being put on the spot, and for telling me about his store which I do hope to be able to return to someday.
A Q&A with Bookstore Owner Randall Sellers
1) When did the bookshop open?
Randall Sellers opened Sellers Books + Art in August 2008.
2) What was your motivation in running/owning a bookstore?
Sellers worked for bookstores in Philadelphia and Cape Cod. When he moved to Jim Thorpe, he saw a need for a small bookstore. Sellers divulged that the underserved community with its more out of the way location made it even more important for the town to have a place to come, gather, and learn. He genuinely cares about his community and loves connecting with his customers.
He has loved books since he was a toddler. It goes beyond loving books though; he also believes in books and loves connecting people with books.
3) What makes this bookstore unique or attractive to customers in your opinion?
Sellers is transitioning after 12 years of selling used books to selling both used and new. Prior to the pandemic, he would scramble for new books, not waiting to see what might come in; traveling to library sales all over PA on a weekly basis. This hard work and dedication have paid off as he has been told numerous times that he “knows how to pick ’em.” The eclectic stock of the store seems testimony enough to this statement.
He did that weekly for 12 years but the pandemic closed that down. Sellers innovated by introducing new books into the store. “It’s a weird transition time, but we are getting through it,” he said with a smile.
4) What do you wish the public knew about independent bookstores?
“I wish that people knew that bookstores are like schools and libraries where people come to learn and educate themselves. . . and me too.” Sellers gushed about the amazing interactions he has had with customers and his love for both the literary works and his patrons truly was apparent in our conversation.
5) What is your favorite section(s) of the store?
History and Biography
6) What are your favorite books to recommend?
Sellers shared his interest in urban history, giving me the example of The Other Paris a book that depicts the seedier side of Paris from the last 150 years or so.
He also shared that French writer Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, is his favorite novelist.
7) Do you have any plans to change, expand, or remove sections of the bookstore?
Sellers shared that he would definitely like to expand and that the back area is currently a work in progress. I was told that there are normally many more heaps of book, which was intriguing to hear because the store really was well loaded (but there is an infinite number of books that would be deemed acceptable to this bookworm).
8) What was the last great book you read?
Like myself when asked this question, Sellers had a moment of panic register on his face as he mentally went through an inventory of what he’s been reading. He divulged that as a bookstore owner he is always reading 8-10 books at a time and I joked that I hated when others put me on the spot, but that I did it to others all the time. He gamely answered that he a book that he wouldn’t call great, but had recently enjoyed was The Lives of Lucian Freud. This biography is actually composed of two volumes and describes the very interesting life of Sigmund Freud’s grandson, artist Lucian Freud.
A woman came in and shared with Sellers that she has a personal challenge to read through all Pulitzer Prize winning books and was pleasantly surprised to find a 1927 winner, Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield in hardback, that was impossible to find elsewhere. Not only is this the kind of store where such treasures sit waiting to be plucked up at a very reasonable price, but this is the kind of store that is run with heart. Sellers himself seemed astonished at the wonderful reading challenge of his patron and he truly shared her delight with her. It was a wonderful moment to witness and it reinforced for me one of the many reasons why independent bookstores are such crucial pillars within communities.
Pro-Tip: Explore the charming town of Jim Thorpe, PA by visitingSellers Books + Art, alongside other small shops like House of Jerky, Rainbows End (great candy!), and Antiques on Broadway. The main street, which homes these stores and many more, features beautiful architecture and a lovely old fashioned train station nearby.
After exploring downtown Jim Thorpe, drive a few minutes away for delicious ice cream at Annie’s Ice Cream.
This was a wonderful first bookstore visit for the blog! If there is something you would like me to include about my next bookstore feature or if you have any questions about Sellers Books + Art , please let me know below!