John Irving, Robert Lowell, Flannery O’Connor, Jane Smiley, John Berryman, Mona Van Duyn, Robert Penn Warren, Kurt Vonnegut, Max Allan Collins—all these and more famous names are forever linked with our town, UNESCO’s City of Literature: Iowa City, Iowa. But there’s more to the bookishness of this place than a famous university workshop and the writers who have been drawn to it since 1936. It’s also about the little people of the book, people like Glenn and Harry Epstein, who opened two used bookstores in the 1970s (later consolidated into one). It’s about the elegant Amaranth Books in the old Davis Hotel building. It’s about the smell of old paper and ink that hit you when you stepped inside Alandoni’s on Dubuque Street. It’s about the cluttered basements of so many book collectors and sometime booksellers who just can’t stay away from antique malls and estate auctions. It’s about the day 150, 4 x 9 foot bookshelves toppled like dominoes at Read Books in Cedar Rapids. Can it be that Iowa City and eastern Iowa have had more used bookstores per capita opening and closing over the years than any other city and region of comparable size? Who can say?
Joe Michaud has been a fixture of the used, out-of-print, and rare book trade in Iowa City for the last twenty-five years, a period of boom and bust for all non-corporate book stores. Interest in used, collectible, and antiquarian books burgeoned shortly after Michaud established his shop, and business grew rapidly. But eventually, the small bookseller began to suffer from the impact of urban renewal and the onslaught of eBay and Amazon. Today those who can adapt persist, but it’s not like it used to be. Booking in Iowa is Joe Michaud’s memoir of his experiences as the owner of The Bookery. It includes an alphabetized section of thumbnail histories of 48 bookshops and booksellers past and present in the eastern Iowa area. The book contains just about everything one could ever want to know about the used book industry here, and introduces the reader to the interesting, often eccentric individuals who make up the cadre of the trade.
In 2011 we published the author's second reminiscence of the book scene in the Iowa City area, Iowa City, City of the Book: Writing, Reading and the Book Arts in the Heartland. It touches on all aspects of the book culture in this remarkable town, from the famed Writer’s Workshop and the Center for the Book at the University of Iowa, the Author’s Reading Program sponsored by Prairie Lights Bookstore, the Actualist Poetry Movement of the 1970s, and a talented and fascinating company of book artists and craftspeople, small presses and independent publishers. Read more about Iowa City, City of the Book.
Booking in Iowa, (ISBN: 978-1-929919-21-5), published by The Bookery and Press of the Camp Pope Bookshop, is softcover, illustrated, 8 ¼ x 11”, 148 pages with 48 illustrations. The price is $18.00, plus shipping and handling.
In the 1960s, Joe proudly served his country as a trooper in the 14th Armored Cavalry along the East German Border. When his enlistment expired, he re-upped into the 28th Infantry, and after some training in Kansas, he was returned to border security in Germany. This all took place at the height of the Cold War, and Joe was in the honor guard when President Kennedy gave his famous speech in West Berlin in 1963. 45 years later, Joe decided to write a memoir of his experience. The fact, as he did his research, that he could find very little written about the history of US border operations in Germany during the Cold War, only encouraged his efforts to produce a quality memoir. Along with his personal memories, Joe added a history of the 14th Armored Cavalry in Germany from 1945 to 1972, plus a number of fascinating historical photographs, many taken by Joe himself while on duty at the border.
Along the Iron Curtain is softcover, illustrated, 8 ¼ x 11”, 148 pages with 18 illustrations and a map. The price is $17.00, plus shipping and handling.Booksellers: Discounts are available on quantity orders. for details.