Books & Mortar

Books & Mortar

A small open spaced bookstore with shelves lining each wall, Books & Mortar is surrounded by a supportive community of book lovers. Initially opened in 2016, the current owner Jenny took ownership in 2018 and has a staff of four. Each shelve has multiple hand written notes (either from the bookstore employees or from the community) giving little mini reviews of the books therein contained.  The bookstore finds it’s roots in literary activism and it shows in every corner, including the large prints of book covers covering their walls, flying books strung from the ceiling, shredded page garlands and rainbow colored yarn art (made and donated by the original owner).  The space has a warm and open feeling, ready to accept any and all readers.  “Consiously currated, fiercly independent and proudly progressive” (the store slogan)`, this is a bookstore that I look forward to visiting again and again.

For more information on this bookstore, please visit their website or their instagram.

Paper Trail Books

Going on 5 years, Paper Trail Books has been part of a new revitalization of bookstores in Michigan (see previous entries on Betties Pages, Library Books). Situated next to Cafe Muse in downtown Royal Oak, down the block from several hipster clothes shops, it’s a fantastic spot for walkins and regulars. The owner, Dave, has a long history with books that starts way back to his earlier days working in several previous bookstores and it shows on everyone of his custom made shelves. It was a delight to walk around the store, with it’s moody lighting, island shelves and gander at his stock. Thanks Dave for letting me in to take pictures! Also thanks to my dear wife Tina for encouraging me to continue with this hobby and taking all the instax photos down below.

You can get more information on this great little bookstore at their website here.

On a personal note, I’ve lined up several more bookstores that I will begin covering in the near future, will try for more updates this year now that covid is…well…is still there but not quite as limiting. 😀

Bettie’s Pages

Bettie’s Pages is a fantastic lens to see Lowell Michigan through (and honestly, most of Western Michigan). The owner is motivated, organized and resilient and her love for the bookstore pops in every nook and cranny. The bookstore has a defined vision and you can see it reflected in every shelf. It’s exciting to visit a place like this and know that in a short period of time it’ll be expanding (see the chalk board in some of the pics, right behind there is construction). The brick wall accents and contrasts the white of the shelves which lends itself to a stylish composition.

The bookstore itself is only two years old and in it’s second location (the first unfortunately was flooded). The second opening happened right on the onset of the Covid pandemic but the bookstore pivoted to online “Boredom Boxes” and various gift packages (that’s actually how my wife and I heard about the bookstore, gifts for the family). We’re already planning our second visit to Lowell once the expansion is done so I can take some more photos of the planned childrens reading area in the back. If you’d like more information or some great ideas for gifts please visit their website.

Bettie’s Pages

The Library Bookstore

When I started this blog I wasn’t entirely sure why I wanted to take photos of books and bookstores. I’d always enjoyed spending time in big box bookstores when I was young, all the crisp pages and that wonderful paper smell. I thought maybe that was it, just a reminiscence of youth through my much older eyeballs. I’ve started to realize it’s not that, although I’ve come to enjoy the smell of used books much more than new ones, it’s not nostalgia that gives me a rush when I see a scene come together in my frame. It’s the lived in feel that permeates not only the books but the surroundings themselves. The little touches bookstore owners put into their space, little notes written with descriptions or stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling, the creases covering the old books. It feels like little bits of peoples lives’ spread all over being shared, it’s just awesome.

This store has a lot of what I mentioned up above, The Library Bookstore is about 35 years old, been through a couple owners but it’s obviously been cared for and loved. There’s at least one picture in this gallery (I won’t tell which) that just absolutely reminded me of why I love taking these photos, it’s not a terrific photo but it feels like it came right out of a memory. Located in downtown Ferndale they’ve got a wide variety of reasons to visit, so please do.

The Library Bookstore

Paperback Outlet

My wife and I found this bookstore due to her mother being familiar with it and we were glad we did. The staff were friendly and the store was just packed with paperbacks of all kinds. Offering trades and rental programs it’s a great community bookstore with a dedicated userbase.

For more information, please visit their website

John King Books

John King Books has over 1 million books in stock, I had to sit and think about that before I started taking photos. I could barely comprehend the amount of space that would take up (as it is, 4 stories and an entire other bookstore in Ferndale, not to mention the off limits basement with overflow). I made sure I had my fitbit on when I visited.

I also collected a few videos and did a quick edit, showing the delightful books on books of shelves. Walking around the store’s halls was a delight and I look forward to visiting many times in the future.

For more information on the bookstore please visit their website

The Book Beat

This eclectic bookstore holds inspiration from the great beat poets like William S. Burroughs to the many varied pieces of African art decorating it’s tight shelves. Filled to the brim with not only books but creativity I couldn’t help feel inspired to document it’s many wonders. To learn more about this Oak Park Michigan bookstore please visit their website here :

Literati Bookstore

Neatly written summaries and synopsis’s litter the shelves of Literati Bookstore and it’s wonderful. They provide careful guides on row after row of carefully curated books reflected in the gentle light permeating the shop.

There is a cafe upstairs with a nice cove of children’s books, the cafe is a cafe and has cafe stuff. Basement is all non-fiction, divided into subject (math, history, gender politics) and is nice, dark and moody. Like a basement in a bookstore aught to be. Middle floor is fiction with a simple yet dense layout that allows open discovery and exploration on the variety of book islands.

Known for it’s antique typewriters showcased in the shop, even better there’s usually at least one machine out for curious typers, random prose from has been collected from the public and distributed as printed literature and ‘graffiti’ on the outer walls.

This bookshop was a pleasure to shoot.

The Books Connection

With a colorful focus on Romance novels, The Books Connection caters to it’s customers like no other bookstore I’ve seen. Offering rentals, curbside delivery and an extra willingness to know each customer’s preference. This small bookstore has been open for 34 years, surviving the likes of Borders and other big box stores. It continues to thrive with it’s connection to it’s community and other independent bookstores in Michigan. It was a pleasure to shoot here and I hope you enjoy.

For more information about this bookstore please visit their website.