On this Valentine’s Day, I want to give a shout out to a very special someone who has been and continues to be an absolute hero in my life: Kathleen Angelone, owner of Bookmamas at 9 S. Johnson Avenue in Irvington.
Now most of you know I am not one to get overly sentimental, but on this day in which we celebrate what we love I feel compelled to point out that not only does Kathleen own a real honest to goodness independent bookstore, but it is literally a shop-around-the corner from Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. Nestled in the heart of this historic neighborhood is a treasure trove of beloved classic, recent titles and old favorites. She specializes in local authors, eclectic gifts for the book lover and has recently taken on a partner in Irvington Vinyl which boasts a huge collection of LPs, 45’s and fan rags for the music freak in us all!
In a day and age where emporiums like these are exceedingly rare, I want to point out that they are not important from a nostalgic perspective, but they offer something to the community a big box store or online warehouse cannot and that is personal service and attention. When you go into Bookmamas, you can be rest assured that Kathleen will take the time to get to know you. She has answered her customer’s call that they want to read and support local authors. They want books about Indiana or set in Indiana and she works TIRELESSLY to provide that. Not only is she in the shop, but she can be found at a number of farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and bazaars throughout the year bringing along the authors who need her as much as she needs them.
When Kathleen launches one of my books, I do my best to go above and beyond to ensure that she has a good turnout because she goes above and beyond for me! I will promote the signing on social media, I will bring treats, I will write press releases, etc…because without her, I. Am. Nothing. Her shop is the most convenient for many of my readers to get to. She has built relationships with a number of local entities including the library, several senior communities, schools…I don’t know what all, and I don’t know of another independent bookstore nearby who can say that. I’m not saying its impossible to get into the bigger chain, and I have done several wonderful signings for them, but this woman knocks herself out to get her authors’ name out there and I am thrilled to come along for the ride.
What can you find at Bookmamas? Well books obviously, both new and used as well as Doctor Who gift items, magnets, mugs, pins, finger puppets, magazines, paper dolls, book marks, pens, music, and so much more. Every time I am in there I am surprised by what I discover. (Including a picture disc 45 of the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” and a stack of vintage Doctor Who fan magazines!)
As if that weren’t enough, last December my son was helping her out for the holidays and she casually asked him if he had gotten my present yet. When he said no, she said, “Well, I think I have you covered.” Kathleen showed him a book written and signed by the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Knowing how much I loved the game, she knew how much I would appreciate it (as well as the rare signature) and my son readily agreed. He got the book, wrapped it and gave it to me Christmas morning. With all due respect to the folks at Amazon, I don’t think they could have pulled that one off…only Kathleen.
Look, we talk a lot about buying local, shopping local and I know everyone loves the bargains that we can find online. However, before hitting the one-click check out button for that special book item, do yourself a favor and see what Kathleen has to offer at Bookmamas. If your kid needs a treat, take them to the shop with the nice lady behind the counter and find them something they will love. If your teenager has to read War and Peace…buy it through Bookmamas. She probably has a few copies already in stock. If you want to support your favorite local author, shopping there is one of the BEST ways to do so. It helps the local economy. It helps Kathleen and it helps us because we get to meet and talk with you! She keeps us going, people. I’m not too proud to say it.
Today is Local History Day and I will be at Bookmamas from 1-3 p.m. signing copies of all of my local history books, as well as my young adult novel Fifteen Minutes of Fame, and my latest release, The Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism. Stop buy if you can, enjoy the music of Irvington vinyl (pick up an LP to set the mood for a romantic dinner) buy the book lover in your life a new title (trust me, it’s a HUGE aphrodisiac!) and meet Kathleen. You won’t regret coming into her shop and once you come in once, you’ll be back again and again!