Wellington Square Bookshop: a touch of class, a dash of whimsy

Philly Liars Club authors!

Once again, the Philly Liars Club is throwing a Truth Tour party to raise awareness of independent bookstores, and this one is just in time for the holidays!  This bash, “Liars Tell the Truth about Wellington Square Bookshop,” is at the bookstore, located in the Eagleville development at 543 Wellington Square, in Exton on Saturday, December 5th from noon-2 p.m. The festivities are free and open to the public, and include goodies, our famed Truth or Lie trivia game, and prizes including autographed book bags and signed books.  Plus candy canes…

Here are the Liars who will be there: Bram Stoker award winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s), fantasy author Gregory Frost (Shadowbridge, and Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House), young adult author Marie Lamba…me… (What I Meant…, Random House), contemporary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press/Simon and Schuster), debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series), mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), mystery author Jon McGoran who writes as D.H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Berkley Books), and social media marketing consultant, writer and lecturer Don Lafferty.

And, once again, our mission is clear: Support indendent bookstores!  We hate seeing online retailers and big chain bookstores squeeze out indies all over the country.  Can you imagine your town without any bookstore at all? Well, it’s happening everywhere.  So this holiday season, we are asking everyone to do gift shopping at your wonderful local indie!   They are special and unique.

Cozy seating at Wellington Square Bookshop

As soon as you step into Wellington Square Bookshop, you know it’s unique.  Maybe it’s the fountain, or the tin ceilings, or the pillars that look like they’ve been taken from an ancient Indian palace. The store, which was originally located a few doors down in an 800 sq ft space, just relocated to its current location this past August. It now occupies a 3700 sq ft space, and includes an elegant gourmet coffee shop with goodies from Delightful Desserts of West Chester.

And of course there are the books: new titles, used titles, first editions and rare books. “We are definitely NOT a Barnes and Noble,” says Jolie Miao, who works at the store. The shop refuses to carry Oprah’s book club picks or Twilight, but here you will find many a treasured titled you won’t easily find elsewhere. They also offer free book appraisal services to anyone who asks. In addition, the store carries gift items including candles, book lights, notebooks and packaged coffees. And for the undecided holiday shopper, there are gift cards.

Great coffees and snacks...I taste-tested 'em to be sure

The differences from the chain bookstores run deeper than the store’s beautiful architecture and eclectic selection of books. “We are chill people and we like to have fun,” says Miao.  “We all read voraciously in our free time, and love to discuss books over a cup of coffee with a customer! As an independent bookstore, we really can get to know our customers.” This all translates into great service. They can personally recommend books to people, and have been known to call customers when that new book from a favorite author finally arrives or gets announced in a press release. “We love to meet bookies who share our passion,” Miao says.  “We’re truly in it for the books first.”

The community is starting to notice, and is taking part in events at the store including author signings, a weekly story time, and two book clubs.  The bookstore also welcomes outside book clubs to hold their meetings in the shop. And to sweeten the deal, Wellington Square Bookshop will even give these clubs free coffee and pastries, along with 20% off their club’s book purchases.

“This store is a gem,” says author Dennis Tafoya, who urges people to think of independent bookstores first before going to that online retailer or chain store. “By shopping at independents for your holiday purchases, you’ll help ensure that unique stores like Wellington Square Bookshop will be here for us for years to come.”

Remember, we all can make a huge difference here.  Browse at all of those little shops.  Visit their online sites and order that way.  Buy indie bookstore gift cards.  Make a difference!

Womrath’s: Celebrating 60 years of Indie Bookselling

***You are invited to come celebrate with us on Saturday, November 7th, noon-3 p.m., when we throw a huge 60th Anniversary Bash for Womrath’s Bookstore in Tenafly, NJ.  A portion of the proceeds will go to the Sgt. Harry Fund, helping disabled veterans achieve a better life…So you can start your holiday shopping, support a great indie bookstore, and help wounded vets! ***

On the final day of World War II, Sgt. Harry Kutik was shot 13 times and left on the battlefield.  But this wasn’t the end of his life, it was the beginning of new challenges, and of his remarkable independent bookstore: Womrath’s.  Sixty years later, Kutik’s family has a proud legacy of quality bookselling and service, all because one courageous man never let anything hold him back. And now, everyone is invited to celebrate when The Philly Liars Club throws its special 60th Anniversary Bash for Womrath’s Bookstore on Saturday, November 7th from noon-3 p.m. at the store located at 12 Washington Street in Tenafly.  The free party includes munchies, trivia games, a host of authors, and prizes and giveaways including signed books and book bags.

Sgt. Harry Kutik, 1942

Sgt. Harry Kutik, 1942

As some of you may already know, the Philly Liars Club, of which I’m a member, is a group of professional writers who basically lie for a living. The Womrath’s bash is part of our “Truth Tour,” a series of parties celebrating independent bookstores. At the Womrath’s party, you can hang out with Bram Stoker award-winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s), fantasy author Gregory Frost (Shadowbridge, and Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House), young adult novelist Marie Lamba…that’s me… (What I Meant…, Random House), crime author Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), mystery writer Jon McGoran who writes as D.H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Berkley), historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series), novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press/Simon and Schuster), mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), renowned Poe scholar Ed Pettit, and social media marketing consultant, writer and lecturer Don Lafferty.

“There’s an alarming trend of independent bookstores being squeezed out by chains and online retailers,” says author Merry Jones.  “This is something we can reverse. If we love an indie, we have to show our support by going to them first when we want a gift card, or a holiday present, or visiting their online site when we want to order books that way.”

I completely agree. In a world that is increasingly generic, where chain bookstores are the same everywhere, and where nobody knows your name, independent bookstores are a haven for any book lover. They are filled with handpicked books, with a staff that knows their titles, and, above all, with personality. This is especially true at Womrath’s Bookstore, where the indomitable spirit of Sgt. Harry Kutik lives on.

Sgt. Harry Kutik, 1948

Sgt. Harry Kutik, 1948

Even though Sgt. Kutik’s war wounds kept him in the hospital for years, and his injuries left him a paraplegic, his will was strong, and his will to help even stronger. “My father was outgoing and optimistic,” says Bob Kutik, who, along with his wife Sheila, now owns the store. “He wouldn’t let anything stop him, and there wasn’t a mean bone in his body. Plus he would never say no to someone in need. He was quite an inspiration.”

Shortly after the war, Sgt. Kutik’s cheerful and independent spirit caught the attention of a disabled veterans group called the 52 Week Club. They selected him for a pilot program aimed at finding businesses that disabled vets could run themselves, a fairly revolutionary idea in the 1940’s.  The group approached Womrath’s, which at the time was a franchise with more than 37 branches. The company agreed to open a branch with Kutik at the helm. The store was designed with aisles wide enough for Harry’s wheelchair, and shelves low enough for him to reach.

For many years, Sgt. Kutik operated successfully, guided by his philosophy of exceeding a customer’s expectations. Twelve years ago, Sgt. Kutik passed away. The business, originally in Hackensack, relocated to Tenafly in 2001, but Sgt. Kutik’s legacy lives on, and to this day, Womrath’s continuously strives to exceed a customer’s expectations.

“Womrath’s Bookstore offers everything the competition does, plus more,” says author Gregory Frost.  He points out that by stopping in, calling the store or visiting http://www.womraths.com, you can order any title quickly, whether the store stocks it or not. They even will ship orders. For unsure gift-givers, the store sells gift certificates. And repeat customers can enjoy a preferred readers club, earning points toward a $10 coupon. “Best of all, by ordering through Womrath’s you are benefiting a local business. One that offers a unique shopping experience, and that showcases titles you won’t find in any of those megastores.”

“I went into the business because, like my father, I wanted to help people the best way I knew how,” says Kutik.  “The right book can change a life, and I can put that book in someone’s hand.”  Every title on their shelves is hand-selected by the staff, based on the tastes of its customers. In addition to general titles, the store has also carries plenty of local interest books, and greeting cards depicting local scenes by area artists and photographers. And for shoppers who aren’t sure which book to buy next, the knowledgeable staff has over 50 years of bookselling experience, plus they read over 300 books a year, meaning that they can personally recommend a vast array of books to their customers.

Womraths Bookstore in Tenafly...an amazing indie!

Womrath's Bookstore in Tenafly...an amazing indie!

After years of high quality service, this bookstore truly has a lot to celebrate. Imagining what Sgt. Kutik would think of Womrath’s 60th anniversary celebration, Bob Kutik says, “I think that my father would have a big smile on his face. He’d be so proud that the work he started has lived on, and that we tried to continue it his way, serving the community in a friendly and helpful manner. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”

“You can see that independent bookstores are so much more than shops,” says author Jon McGoran.  “They are the heart and soul of a community.  We members of the Philly Liars Club hope everyone feels the same and joins us at this bash to show how strongly we all support this local gem. It’s going to be a great party – no lie.”

For more information, or to reserve a copy of an author’s book before the event, call Womrath’s Bookstore at 201-568-8857.

“Truth Tour” Celebrates Independent Bookstores

Philly Liars Club members Marie Lamba, Kelly Simmons, Dennis Tafoya, Jon McGoran (D.H. Dublin) and Jonathan Maberry

Philly Liars Club members Marie Lamba, Kelly Simmons, Dennis Tafoya, Jon McGoran (D.H. Dublin) and Jonathan Maberry

Something unusual is brewing at the Doylestown Bookshop, and it involves wacky games, a bunch of liars and one fuzzy dog.

The Philly Liar’s Club is hosting a party called “Liars Tell the Truth about the Doylestown Bookshop,” which will be held at the store, located on 16 South Main Street in Doylestown, on Saturday, May 2nd from 2-4 p.m. This event, which is free and open to the public, features free food, tons of authors, and chances to win prizes that include signed books and an appearance on the canine web comedy It’s Todd’s Show.

The Philly Liar’s Club is a group of professional writers that I now belong to. We basically lie for a living. It’s cool belonging to a group like this. They are all witty and talented, and working together we can really make things happen, like this bookshop party. My only objection is that they are also all really tall, and this is slightly embarrassing when it comes to group photos. Fortunately some of them will crouch beside me to make me feel less, er, fun-sized?

Anyways, the Doylestown event is our first stop on what we call our “Truth Tour.”  This is a series of parties that we are throwing for independent bookstores. It gives us all a chance to celebrate indies and spread the word about everything that is amazing about them — their personality, great selection, amazing service, and their support for local authors and artists. With the rise of online bookselling, and the dominance of big chain bookstores, independent bookstores have been really challenged to stay afloat.  But independents like the Doylestown Bookshop offer everything the competition does, plus more. And we never want to live without them!

Our Philly Liars Club members include:

New York Times best selling author L.A. Banks (The Thirteenth, St. Martin’s Griffin)
Bram Stoker award-winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s)
young adult author Marie Lamba…er, me… (What I Meant…, Random House)
New York Times best selling thriller author William Lashner (Blood and Bone, Morrow)
debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s)
mystery author Jon McGoran who writes as D.H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Berkley)
fantasy author Gregory Frost (Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House)
novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press)
mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books),
historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series)
Poe scholar Ed Pettit
social media guru Don Lafferty
Emmy Award winning producer Laura Schrock (shows include Alf, Golden Girls, and It’s Todd’s Show)

Visitors to the May 2nd celebration will get to shake paws with Todd, the It’s Todd’s Show’s four-legged star, they will play truth or lie games for prizes, and will enjoy hanging out with the Liars.

The Doylestown Bookshop is the largest independent bookstore in Bucks County. Still, if you think book orders are limited to what is found on its shelves, you’re mistaken. By going to http://www.doylestownbookshop.com, you can order any title quickly, whether the store stocks it or not. Shipping is free for all orders over $30, and there is no shipping at all on orders you pick up at the store. Best of all, by ordering through them you are benefiting a local business, one that offers a unique shopping experience, and that showcases titles you won’t find in any of those megastores.

Doylestown Bookshop owner Pat Gerney of Wrightstown agrees. “We have a hand-picked selection of books based on what our community wants and needs, unlike chain bookstores that order from a central location that services hundreds of stores.” This translates into a collection that truly caters to the community, including unusual fiction and non-fiction, school reading list titles, shelves dedicated to local authors, and many titles about Bucks County.

“Independent bookstores cater to independent minds,” says author Jonathan Maberry. “It’s more than just about selling books – the Indies cultivate a love and appreciation of books, literacy, learning, reading and intellectual growth in ways the big chain stores don’t – or can’t.” The Doylestown Bookshop has become a cultural hub and a gathering place of sorts. Readers can meet other booklovers by joining book clubs, including a mother/daughter group, one for sci fi/fantasy/horror fans, and a Smart Books for Smart Women group. They even have a book group for food lovers, which meets at the specialty food store Cote and Co. The bookstore also has frequent book signings, and supports local artists with exhibitions, and local musicians with live performances.

“The past ten years have been rough for Independents,” says bookshop manager Shilough Hopwood. “But we’ve prospered and flourished, thanks to our community. A dedicated community really makes a difference in preserving independent stores everywhere.”

We hope everyone comes out May 2nd to show their dedication, and to hang out with the Liars. It’s going to be a blast…and that’s no lie. For more information, or to reserve a copy of an author’s book before the event, call the Doylestown Bookshop at 215-230-7610.

Also, I’ll be sure to post more about our future Truth Tour events here, and on my website www.marielamba.com. In the meantime, go buy a book from an independent bookshop. Now!