It’s been a big year for Literati Bookstore. Last March, owners Mike and Hilary Gustafson published “Notes from a Public Typewriter,” a compilation of the anonymous messages left on a typewriter inside the store. They’ve welcomed some esteemed literary names to Ann Arbor — Kristen Roupenian, Susan Orlean and Jonathan Franzen, just to name a few. And this month, they were named the 2019 Bookstore of the Year by Publishers Weekly, which cited the store’s double-digit annual growth since opening in 2011.
But among it all, some things haven’t changed— the familiar creak of the first floor, the aforementioned public typewriter’s station in a nook downstairs, the dozens of laminated handwritten recommendation cards tucked in among the shelves. It’s impressive that Literati has earned itself status as an Ann Arbor institution in eight short years, and more impressive yet that the store has embraced that role while continuing to innovate, forging new community partnerships and experimenting with niche book club and subscription service offerings.
The indie bookstore renaissance is maybe the most pleasant surprise of the last few years. Whatever the reason, people are buying books, and they’re doing it at places like Literati, which see themselves not only as bookstores but also as community gathering spaces. Worried that print and brick-and-mortar retail are dead? On a bustling Friday night at Literati, you’ll never feel more alive.