As Independent Bookstore Day on April 30 draws near, Albuquerque mainstay Page 1 Books is hoping to bring in some like-minded lexophiles for a celebration of small business and great reads.
As the store is still practicing masking requirements, they will be commemorating Independent Bookstore Day with a COVID-safe celebration. Store manager Ian Carrilllo said Independent Bookstore Day is a welcome way for community members to show support for these stores that help the community to thrive.
“It’s a reminder that we exist and independent bookstores are a vital part of the community,” Carrillo said.
The company was founded in 1981 and moved to its current location in 2013 but still maintains its status as a “staple of Albuquerque,” according to Carrillo. The store has been owned by the same man, Steve Stout, since its initial creation, and Stout continues to work in the store nearly everyday.
“He’s probably one of my favorite bosses that I’ve ever had. He’s always here, so if you think of something that you wanna ask him you can just say, ‘Hey Steve, what do you think about this?'” manager Brandy Kirkpatrick said.
The store is perhaps most notable for its extensive special collections section, boasting over 2,600 rare book titles, according to Carrillo. Some of these titles date back to as far as the 18th century, though all are of potential interest to a wide variety of specialty collectors.
Kirkpatrick said her current favorite in special collections right now is a series of printings from a personal art collection that was published in 1926, bound in a red oversized hardcover. Only 100 copies of the book currently exist.
“There’s always something new; there’s always something different to learn. It never gets old, especially with these old books,” Kirkpatrick said.
Aside from the rare books, however, Kirkpatrick and Carrillo both pointed to the store’s collections of manga, graphic novels and tabletop role-playing games as popular sections of the store. The store is quite extensive in the selections they carry, and the staff has similarly varied interests.
“We have a lot of new staff. Everybody here is just really eager, big readers, and really eager to talk about the books they’re interested in. I mean, if you need a recommendation on anything, you can get it from somebody here,” Carrillo said.
Kirkpatrick and Carrillo were both hired right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in tandem with the store’s inventory system crashing. They recalled having to reshape the store and its organizational system from the ground up alongside a relatively fresh staff, as many previous employees left following the crash and pandemic.
“We have some old staff and some new staff, and seeing them work together has just made the store blossom into something truly special,” Carrillo said.
The pandemic has certainly put a damper on the business in some respects. Carrillo recalled the store scrambling to establish their online presence when the store closed down at the same time Barack Obama’s highly anticipated memoir “A Promised Land” was released.
“We’re so thrilled to be open and have people see the books and touch the books themselves — that’s what makes the business work,” Carrillo said.
Now, with local bookstores being more accessible than they have been in years, Carrillo hopes more people will take the opportunity to step into a local bookstore and be introduced to brand-new perspectives in the process.
“If you step foot in a bookstore, you’re going to learn something whether you buy a book or not, and if you talk to anybody in a bookstore you’re going to learn something valuable,” Carrillo said.
Zara Roy is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle