Originally posted on The Algonquin Books Blog.
Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
TEMPE, Arizona — Ladies and gentlemen, I am in love. Changing Hands Bookstore swept me off my feet, stole my heart, had me at “hello.” There’s a perfect bookstore out there for everyone, and Changing Hands happens to be mine. It has that energy, that swinging verve, that effervescent joy that immediately reminds me just how amazing independent bookstores truly are. But, it stops short of overpowering you. If you want to share in the booksellers’ enthusiasm, hang around the counters or the main walkway. But when you find that book you’ve been searching for (or didn’t know you were searching for), scurry off the primary path and you’ll find comfortable reading chairs stashed in sweet seclusion.
That feeling was enough to sell me, but Changing Hands had more to offer. The store is large and houses a great selection of books. It has a kid’s section that swirls books and toys into a near-paralyzing concoction of childhood wonder. It has new books, used books, sale books, even a selection of free books on a table outside! And they’ve managed the much-more-difficult-than-you-imagine task of combining their new and used inventory in the same system. (You don’t have to search for your favorite authors in the New and then in the Used areas. Just find them once and — Bam! — you get both options right in front of you.) Oh, and if you get hungry or thirsty, they have a local café attached next door, Wildflower Bread Company. Really, the Changing Hands staff should be glad that I had more bookstores scheduled, because I was ready to buy a cot and stay in that store forever.
And Phoenix residents, get ready, because Changing Hands will soon open a new store in downtown Phoenix. And it’s going to have beer and wine on tap. BYOC — Bring Your Own Cot. (But don’t really do that, please. I’m sure having people live in your store breaks all kinds of health and safety codes).
General Manager Cindy Dach took the time to answer our Algonquin Questionnaire.
When did Changing Hands Bookstore first open?
April 1, 1974. We opened on April Fool’s Day and adopted the Fool as our unofficial mascot.
What was in this location before Changing Hands moved in?
What is the oddest book you’ve had on the shelves?
This isn’t generally odd, but we had a book about how to build a wooden boat by hand. Useful in some areas of the country, but in Tempe there isn’t much water to put a boat in. That book stayed on the shelves for a long time.
What is the oddest non-book item on the shelves?
We sell this essential oil spray made for bathroom use. It’s called Poo-Pouri (and sells really well).
What is your favorite Algonquin title and your favorite overall summer title?
The Art Forger is definitely my favorite Algonquin book. It’s such a great blend of mystery, memoir, and real life. My summer recommendation is The Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. It’s just out in hardcover, and the writing is great
Is there a staff cocktail of choice?
Most of our staff favor beer and wine. There is a local craft brew called Four Peaks that we all really enjoy. And we’re looking forward to sampling the wines on tap when our new store is up and running.
What is the strangest question asked since you’ve worked at Changing Hands?
Our bookseller Danielle was once asked if she would read the first paragraph of a book over the phone to one of our customers. Danielle did exactly that, but I think the customer ended up choosing another book when she came in.
Next stop: Bookworks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…