Pages On Livernois

pages on livernois detroit bookstore susan murphy
I think it’s pretty obvious from the blog that I’m an avid reader.  I love books. I almost always have one with me because you never know when you’re going to be stuck waiting somewhere.  These are real books – not digital ones, I need to feel the paper between my fingers.  When I read that a new bookstore was opening in the city I was surprised and impressed.  It’s not a business venture you’d expect in 2014; however, the community and entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Detroit and calling on people to follow their passion.  I started following Susan Murphy’s Pages on Livernois’ Facebook page several months ago, I met her at Signal Return and bought Into The Go Slow at the book reading and Christmas presents were ordered through her website.  Murphy’s experience locating a storefront has been a challenge but she remains optimistic that Pages on Livernois will find a permanent home this year.  In the meantime, she has a pop-up location in Always Brewing Detroit – a local coffee shop/community gathering space in the Grandmont-Rosedale Neighborhood.  We recently sat down to talk about business, books and, of course, Detroit.
pages on livernois detroit bookstore susan murphy

In an increasingly digital world, there appears to be a grassroots effort to bring back the classic storefront for books and music.  Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because people have shifted towards needing and wanting community and a bookstore provides that to them. More than just selling books, it provides a place for people to get together and talk about issues that are in books or storylines behind books. I think there’s a real trend towards small business and community supported small business.

Your original plan was to open a storefront location on Livernois. What attracted you to that area?
The neighbors. The neighborhoods. When I was originally going to open, it was part of REVOLVE Detroit program and that’s where that was too.  There are five neighborhoods that surround that area and I got to know people and I felt strongly that they would support a bookstore.  It’s demographics too. There are families there and most people own their homes so that means they’ll probably stay a little bit longer – those were important things to me too.

You are currently in the Grandmont Rosedale area.  How has the transition been?
It’s been good. I knew this neighborhood.  It’s very similar to the Livernois area as far as families and stability. I’ve gotten great support here. I think part of it is being with Amanda because she’s got a great clientele and has done a lot of introductions.

Where would you like to settle long term? What will the environment look like?
I’ll do the environment first. It needs to be a space that has a highly curated selection of books. It’ll never be like a Barnes & Noble or a Borders or anything remotely close to that. The advantage of the bookstore is that every book will be hand selected.  It won’t be ‘come in and get anything you want’ – I can order anything you want but in the store books will be selected by me or staff.  I want it to be a place where people can find new books and new authors. I also need space to welcome the community. I love to do events. I’ve done events over the last year and a half and it’s fun.  That’s the environment: comfortable so people can come sit, look at books, read, have books clubs, a place to gather – those are the community things I’m thinking about.

Location… I am looking here on Grand River in the Grandmont Rosedale area. I have a couple contacts left on Livernois that might turn into something. Those are my two options.

What do you look for when you select books?
Books! I thought you were going to say building and I’d break with that one. I have best-sellers that I think are good or that have been recommended to me. The booksellers in the country are really connected so I get recommendations from other people and I recommend to them as well. I also have a selection of classics – the books most people have heard of but maybe not read and, in that section, I look for the books you haven’t heard of from great authors.  When I was on Livernois I got a lot of request for self-help/spiritually based books and so I added those to the collection. If I have customers asking for something, I’ll do that.

Are you from Detroit? What is it about the city that appeals to you?
I have never lived in the city but I’ve worked in the city almost my entire life so I am very familiar with it.  Why Detroit? That’s a question I get asked a lot. First of all, it’s fun to be in a growing city. I can feel the growth and people coming together to make that happen in the neighborhoods and it’s fun to be part of that.  From a practical standpoint I see a need for it.  I wanted to be in the northwest part of Detroit because this area doesn’t get the literary events that go to Midtown or Downtown or even now West Village or Hamtramack. I think it’s space. I think there needs to be space for these events. That’s why I like Northwest.

Pages On Livernois 2015 Book List
 

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