An independent bookstore in Tallahassee is among those featured in a new documentary about these local businesses.
First, let’s meet with the project director:
“My name is Mason Engel. I am a freelance writer and filmmaker and director of the documentary ‘The Bookstour’.”
And here is the producer of the project.
“My name is Doug Osman and I am a professor of practice at Purdue University at the Brian Lamb School of Communication.”
In fact, Engel was one of Osman’s students at Purdue. And that relationship took to the next level not long after Engel wrote a book.
âIn 2017, when I was in my final year at Purdue University – where I met Doug, my senior producer – and self-published a novel on Amazon. I didn’t know what to do with me. look forward to that process. The injury from the book and for the next two years I just rode the digital wave and was happy with it. ”
But this satisfaction was only temporary.
âIn 2019 I was looking for different channels to promote my work and decided to explore brick and mortar (stores) to try and get my novel into independent bookstores. So my crazy idea was to take a road trip from Indiana to California and back, visiting 50 independent bookstores in 50 days. ”
Leaving each of the copies of his novel. Engel said THIS idea was short lived and a spin-off took its place.
âIt wasn’t about self-promotion. It was about interviewing, talking with booksellers across the country and asking them a simple variation of the same question: ‘Why should people leave? worry? Why should people buy from an independent bookstore? ”
Doug Osman signed on as producer of the project. Over the course of 17 days last summer, he and Engel visited 28 bookstores in 20 states. Each had their own unique characteristics. But Osman said there were also some common qualities.
“A very loyal following of people who would rather walk into bookstores and first hold a book in their hands, rather than reading it from their phone or tablet.”
Another is that each selection of books is made by a real person, based on their intimate knowledge of the preferences of local customers. Among the small independent bookstores on the tour was Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader. There, they interviewed bookseller Alexis Bondi. Doug Osman noted that she brings some of that personal touch that makes stores like hers so appealing.
âShe’s not alone. There are a lot of people like her across the country who have this very deep love of books and who carry the flag like her. It’s good to meet people like that and it’s good to find them there There are a lot of people across the country trying to keep the experience of books very enjoyable and individual. ”
Although Director Engel added that there was also something unique about Midtown Reader.
âOne of my favorite things about the store – and I hope they still do – was during the pandemic that they had a smart little car that could almost fit in your pocket. And they drove and were doing their book deliveries in the car so we made sure to get pictures of that next to the lovely bookstore itself.
Now, the fruits of this cinematic work are almost ready for public reveal. Director Mason Engel has said the premiere of the documentary “The Bookstour” will be online.
âThe movie is available for pre-order now through July 7. And all the money we raise goes to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation which has basically been the industry’s safety net. Or you can buy some. tickets for the virtual premiere, which takes place in mid-July. In addition, digital rentals will be available. “
By the way, Midtown Reader is a frequent underwriter of WFSU.