Sunday, March 11, 2012

Village Story Peddlers... Books on the Common



Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT



Una, Book Guardian
The DMS wants to send some good cheer out to those wonderful independent books sellers starting in March. So, we decided that every month it would be great to share some of our favorite corner bookstores with our readers. For our first Village Story Peddlers post, we want to talk about Books on the Common. This unique book nook has all the charm and enchantment you could imagine. It is a brilliant showcase for the many amazing stories housed on its reaching shelves. There to greet you with a friendly, bookish smile is the wise guardian of the books. Once inside, hold onto your pants, because the magical worlds of words will open right up for you. Follow along as we explore the history of the store and chat with the knowledgeable staff about what they think about books these days!

March Village Story Peddlers:
Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Here's the story...
Books on the Common was established in 1984 by Bob and Sally Silbernagel in a tiny 450 sq. ft. space. Bob and Sally ran the store together, putting in long hours, with help from only one part-time employee. Just a few years later, they boldly doubled that space and expanded into the adjacent store, for a total of nearly 2,100 square feet - above average size for an independent bookstore. 

With the additional shelf space, Bob and Sally were able to expand their inventory and increase the number of titles in stock. Over the years, their three children helped out at the store, and more staff was hired. Books on the Common offered outstanding customer service, wonderful conversation, and great book recommendations - all critical to the survival of independents. Sadly, on May 16, 1991, Bob lost a long battle with cancer and passed away at the age of 49, and Sally was left to run the store on her own. She hired additional staff and kept it going, despite the increasing competitive pressures to come.



The 1990s brought the "killer B's" to bookselling business - the chain stores Barnes & Noble and Borders expanded rapidly throughout the U.S., and both opened locations in Danbury. Encore Books opened (and closed) in nearby Copps Hill Common during that decade, and Books on the Green came (and went) on Main Street. And then there was Amazon - internet bookselling started with the dot-com explosion in the '90s and continues to challenge all "bricks & mortar" independent booksellers nationwide.

Through it all, Books on the Common thrived, thanks to the loyal support of our customers. The residents of Ridgefield, Redding, North & South Salem and other surrounding towns have patronized the store all these years.

After 20 years in business, Sally decided it was time to retire, and the store is now owned by Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis – two long-time Ridgefielders and avid readers. Ellen and Darwin maintained the friendly, comfortable atmosphere of the store while bringing it up-to-date by computerizing the store operations. After 5 more years in Copps Hill, it was decided that a better, more visible location was needed. Fortunately, a wonderful space on Ridgefield's historic Main Street became available in early 2009. Following many months of planning and negotiating, Books on the Common was reborn in its new space at 404 Main Street – known to old-time Ridgefielders as Bedient's – the hardware store that operated from the building for 100 years. Although our location has changed, the most important things have not – our passion for books, our willingness to make great book recommendations, and our ability to provide outstanding service to our customers – our fellow book lovers.



Books on the Common
404 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Phone: (203) 431-9100
Fax: (203) 431-3233
Email: info@booksonthecommon.com
Location and hours




Here's what the staff has to say...


Ilene, Little House on the Prairie
What is your favorite book to chat about?
Ilene: My favorite book to chat about would be the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books have become part of my family’s culture, and we frequently refer to characters or events in them. Recently two of my adult children took a trip to South Dakota and Minnesota just to visit the sites of The House on Plum Creek and The Little House on the Prairie. Many people think of the TV show when they hear “Little House” but these books are a special treat.


Brooklyn: My favorite book to talk about is Harry Potter. While it might not be the most unique choice, I could talk about Harry Potter for hours. Because I grew up as the books were being published I feel like I grew up with the characters. I have so many memories of anxiously anticipating each new book and reading them feverishly through the night. Because the books hold so many memories for me I love to re-read them and discuss them with other avid Harry Potter readers.

Brooklyn, Harry Potter

If you could jump into any scene from any story, what would it be?

Melissa: Hmmm, scenes- well those are harder to conjure… I do think it would be magical to spend the night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Mixed Up Files...) maybe The Hundred Acre Wood? The attic of the March girls? A Jane Austen ball or tea?

Zoe: If I could jump into any scene, it would be the scene in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke where Meggie's father, Mo, first reads to Capricorn and his men. When Mo reads out loud, his voice enchants his audience and the images in the book become enchantingly vivid in each listener's mind. I think it would be cool to see a book come to life.

Melissa, The Silver Chair


Who is your absolute, favorite character from a book?


Maggie: Puddleglum, from The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis was always one of my favorite characters. He was so funny and a surprisingly good travel companion. He was able to grow a lot over the course of the book. It would be so cool to have a conversation with Puddleglum.

Matt: My favorite character from a book is Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief. Hans is gentle yet incredibly strong in the face of adversity. He is a character that everyone can look up to.



Matt, The Book Thief
We would like to thank the staff at Books on the Common for answering our questions, and we hope that you get a chance to check out this lovely, independent bookstore sometime!




Happy Reading!





Zoe, Inkheart









26 comments:

  1. I loved reading this post and hope to see more about small books stores like this one.

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    1. I am so glad you liked this post, Amy. We love small bookstores and will be posting about one bookstore a month! :) I think shopping in local bookstores is magical. ~F

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  2. I love Books on the Common! Thanks for such a fantastic post about a local store. Can't wait to read about other independent book stores. Loved the pictures and the interviews.

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    1. Thanks, Dawn! We are glad you enjoyed the post. Everyone at Books on the Common is so nice. I agree with you that it is a great local store and everyone is so friendly and helpful. :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  3. Great article! I wish we had bookstores around where I live :)

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! I wish they had bookstores around where you live, too. They are so much fun to visit! ~F

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  4. This post is enough to make me want to move to CT. We have a magical indie bookstore out here in Toluca Lake called Aroma Cafe. You can eat a brie omelet and lose yourself in books. Ahhhhh.

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    1. Leslie- It is a beautiful store and the staff is fantastic. Aroma Cafe sounds like a fabulous place to visit, too. I love bookstores that are small and welcoming. :)

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    2. Here, here. BTW - I just finished Wonderstruck. What a treat.

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    3. So glad to hear you enjoyed Wonderstruck. I am just amazed by his artwork and stories. I am going to be watching Hugo this week!

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  5. Wonderful. I really enjoyed learning all about this place. You are doing a wonderful thing by talking about these marvelous small book stores.

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    1. Thanks, Donna! There's nothing more magical than a corner book store!

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  6. This sounds like an awesome book store. I live in CT- so I am going to check it out. I loved seeing the books that the people that worked there liked. I like many of the books they are holding.

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    1. That's great, Flex! Let us know what you think about it : ) ~ F

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  7. What a great thing to do for independent bookstores! And handselling is always so much better for book sales. There is nothing like it!

    Heather

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! We are looking forward to shouting out about some of our favorites in the upcoming months : ) ~ F

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  8. Oh, fantastic pictures! I wish I had that bookstore near my house.

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    1. It's a really great book nook : ) Thanks for coming by, Missie! ~ F

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  9. I absolutely LOVE this post! Well done, and I sincerely hope Books on the Common gets a crap-load of increased business because of you.

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    1. Thanks, Angela! We hope they get tons of business, too! That would be awesome! :)

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  10. We have a small book store around my area and I like patronizing them. I'm a fan of any kind of small store.

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    1. I agree, Nekky. Small bookstores are fabulous! That is great that you have one near your house.

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  11. LOVE your idea of commending the indie bookshops! This one in particular makes me want to hop in my car and make an in-person visit (and I just might do that :-)

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Go indie bookshops! Books on the Common is a magical bookstore. If you can hop in your car and drive there you won't be disappointed.

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  12. I have been to Books on the Common in Ridgefield. It's a beautiful book store, and the staff was very nice!

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    1. How exciting to hear from someone else who has visited this amazing bookstore. So glad you enjoyed your visit, Elaine!

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