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Bookbinders Basalt brings back the personal

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By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

If you’ve been mourning the loss of The Novel Tea Shop or Town Center Booksellers, take heart — the midvalley has a bookstore again.

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Bookbinders Basalt, located at 731 E Valley Rd. across from Bristlecone Sports and next to the Midland Clothing Company in the Willits Town Center, celebrates its grand opening all day on June 22 after a little more than a week of quiet business.

“People have been finding us,” said co-owner Catherine Maas. “Willits has a lot of energy right now. The positive response from people coming in has been tremendous.”

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Maas has been in the area for about a decade and currently resides in Emma, while Lisa Krass moved to Carbondale just in time to join the venture. The pair actually grew up together in Geneva, Switzerland, where their families were living and working abroad. Neither has run a bookstore before.

“We’re sort of reinventing ourselves in our 50s,” Krass said. “What a dream job to work in a bookstore.”

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“Coming in fresh to this business, we don’t have any preconceived ideas,” Maas added. “We had this incredible space to work with, and we wanted to create something with warmth to it, but there were definite tweaks to the conventional design.”

As the first tenants, they worked with Carbondale architectural firm Land + Shelter and arrived at an aesthetic with plenty of wood, and shelves short enough to reach but high enough to embrace the room. Instead of the standard front display there’s counter seating to read or chat, plus a mezzanine to show off the coffee-table books and a “kid cabin” for the youngsters.

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“It gives the children their own sort of store within the store,” Maas explained.

There’s also an array of gifts, cards and other miscellania not available elsewhere. The books themselves are chosen with an eye toward variety, with plenty of international and up-and-coming authors to complement the bestsellers and Spanish language books for all ages. What they don’t have in stock you can special order, and local authors are encouraged to drop by and introduce themselves as well.

“We take a more personal approach,” Maas said. “Lisa and I make recommendations all day long.”

The pair have made a point to carry books on area schools’ summer reading lists, while the nonfiction section is tailored to local tastes with plenty of nature and adventure.

“We spend a lot of time in the outdoors, which is good for the soul, and I think being around books is, too,” Maas observed. “It’s a bit to me like travel. It brings a different perspective to your experience.”

With that in mind, they hope Bookbinders will be a hub for local readers.

“It’s a place for people to congregate and make connections,” Maas said.

Expect to see signings, speakers and the like, plus storytime for kids 10 and under at 11 a.m. on Fridays and a monthly book club starting with “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles at 6 p.m. on July 20.

“A book club can really get you out of your comfort zone to read what you wouldn’t have otherwise, and it provokes an interesting discussion,” Maas noted.

With all that to offer, she’s not worried about competition from Amazon.

“Sometimes people just like to be able to pick books and browse,” she said. “I think every town should have a bookstore.”

Next steps

Bookbinders Basalt is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, visit bookbindersbasalt.com or call 279-5040.

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