Friday, May 20 2022


An independent bookstore in Tallahassee is among those featured in a new documentary about these local businesses.

First, let’s meet the project director:

“My name is Mason Engel. I am a freelance writer, filmmaker and director of ‘The book store“Documentary”.

And here is the producer of the project.

“My name is Doug Osman and I am a practice teacher at Purdue University at the Brian Lamb School of Communication. ”

In fact, Engel was one of Osman’s students at Purdue. And that relationship took to the next level not long after Engel wrote a book.

“In 2017, when I was in my final year at Purdue University – where I met Doug, my senior producer – and had self-published a novel on Amazon. I didn’t know what to expect of that process. and for the next two years, I just rode the digital wave and was happy with it. ”

But this satisfaction was only temporary.

“In 2019, I was looking for different channels to promote my work and decided to explore brick and mortar (stores) to try and sell my novel in independent bookstores. So my crazy idea was to take a road trip from Indiana to California and back, visiting 50 independent bookstores in 50 days. ”

Leaving each of the copies of his novel. Engel said THIS idea was short lived and a spin-off has taken its place.

“It wasn’t about self-promotion. It involved interviews, speaking with booksellers across the country and asking them a simple variation of the same question: “Why should people care? Why should people buy from an independent bookstore? “”

Doug Osman signed on as producer of the project. Over the course of 17 days last summer, he and Engel visited 28 bookstores in 20 states. Each had their own unique characteristics. But Osman said there were also some common qualities.

“A very loyal following of people who would rather walk into bookstores and first hold a book in their hands, rather than reading it from their phone or tablet.”

Another is that each selection of books is made by a real person, based on their intimate knowledge of the preferences of local customers. Among the small independent bookstores on the tour was Tallahassee’s City center drive. There, they interviewed bookseller Alexis Bondi. Doug Osman noted that she brings some of that personal touch that makes stores like hers so appealing.

“She’s not alone. There are a lot of people like her across the country who have this very deep love of books and who carry the flag like her. It’s good to meet people like that and it’s good to find them there There are a lot of people across the country trying to keep the experience of books very personal and individual. ”

Although Director Engel added that there was also something unique about Midtown Reader.

“One of my favorite things about the store – and I hope they still do – was during the pandemic that they had a smart little car that could almost fit in your pocket. And they drove and were doing their book deliveries in the car. So we made sure to get pictures of that next to the lovely bookstore itself. ”

Now, the fruits of that cinematic work are almost ready for public reveal. Director Mason Engel has said the documentary “The Bookstour” will be premiered online.

“The movie is available for pre-order now through July 7. And all the money we raise goes to Book Industry Charitable Foundation it is essentially the industry’s safety net. Or you can buy tickets for the virtual premiere, which takes place in mid-July. In addition, digital rentals will be available. “

By the way, Midtown Reader is a frequent underwriter of WFSU.

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