Featured Indie Bookstore: Quimby’s Bookstore | Chicago, IL

Tell us a little about bout yourself and quimby’s bookstore.

LM: My name is Liz Mason. I’m the manager at Quimby’s, where I’ve worked since 2001. I’m also a zine publisher, and I sold my zines at Quimby’s before I ever worked here. Now I help other people sell their zines, as well as comics and books!

What reading trends do you see in your customers? 

LM: Our customers get jazzed about strategies for self-care, pensive but arty fictional narrators, animals being existential, music memoirs featuring an artist coming into their own, and comics with pizza and/or cats and/or cats eating pizza. And intersectional feminism.

What other products and/or services do you provide for your customers?

LM: One of the things that we offer is a consignment policy that allows people who publish zines and comics to sell their work with us with no strings attached. Once their stuff sells, they get 60% of their sale. Most stores don’t do this because of how labor-intensive it is. But it does allow us to sell the types of things we do, small press titles that you won’t find at mst bookstores. We also have a monthly meet-up called Zine Club Chicago that features both in-person and on-line meetings that provide space for publishers to socialize and create with other makers. In addition to all this, we also do a weekly livestream called New Stuff Saturdays on our Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/quimbysbookstore/) at 11:30am CT where we — surprise surprise! — talk about the new stuff and other store news from the week.

What is the importance of keeping indie bookstores thriving?

LM: People need a place where they are exposed to new ideas and art. The bigger chains see their products and customers through the lens of theirnwallets, which can be antithetical to the experience of engaging in new ideas and art. The bigger chain stores try to appeal to everybody, therefore watering down what they offer. An independent bookstore that knows its audience (while still trying to find more likeminded customers) tends to offer more interesting material because they aren’t trying to appeal to everybody. But for the people that are fans of any given store, independent bookstores are a godsend.

What do you think the future of indie bookstores will be like?

LM: What people crave is community and novelty. The stores that can customize the experience specific to their audience and offer things that their customers won’t find elsewhere are the stores that I imagine will thrive.

Anything else?

LM: Find us on the web at quimbys.com! 

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Article originally Published in the March / April / May 2024 Issue: Indie in Bloom

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