For bookworms, there’s nothing like the feeling of stepping into a room lined wall to wall with novels, and knowing there are thousands of adventures to get lost in at your fingertips. While reading a great book is a blast on your own, finding a community of others who share your hobby and are equally as excited about books can make the reading experience that much more fun. Book Club Bookstore & More set out to capture just that, bringing the magic of a library and the joy of a book club to a plaza settled in the heart of South Windsor.
Book Club started nearly half a decade ago in the town of Broad Brook when Cynde Acanto turned a long time dream into reality. “I was drawn to books since I was a child. I was always a reader, my parents were readers. In my adult life, I started hosting book clubs and I always said if I ever made a career change, I’d open a book store and I’d call it Book Club. Finally, after being in retail management for 25 years, the opportunity arose and I seized it.”
Now, as the store nears its five year anniversary in November, many exciting changes have occurred, but the love for books that helped build the business stays the same. Book Club will celebrate its birthday during Shop Small Business Saturday, a calm after the storm of Black Friday shopping. After three years of being located in East Windsor, Cynde was happy to find a location available in South Windsor, where she and her family reside.
Owning a small business is no easy task, but Cynde was armed with a passion for reading and the knowledge to be successful. “I definitely had background experience. You have to love what you do. You have to be self-motivated every day and have to wear all the hats. You have to do it all.”
What has truly made Book Club a dream come true for Cynde is her continued love for reading. “The beautiful thing about books is that they can transport you anywhere. And you can learn things that you never would have been exposed to. I love to read nonfiction and read about other people’s lives in memoirs. Historical fiction will always teach you something in history you were never taught in school. Then you can fall down the rabbit hole and research it more if you’re interested. Great fiction can entertain you, it can scare you, it can make you cry, it can make you laugh. I just love the power of the written word.”
Upon entering Book Club, the room is filled with delights to bring joy to any reader. Tables displaying featured South Windsor authors, suggested titles and great gifts like an Edgar Allan Poe mug make for the ideal place to get lost in. The possibilities for adventure are endless. Book Club is not limited to the sale of books and gifts. Book Club hosts several genres of book clubs including Weekday, Stephen King, Marcia Clark and Chat & Chew. There is truly something for everyone. And if there isn’t something just right for you, Cynde is always open to suggestions!
While the books lining the walls of the shop are eye-catching, it’s impossible to miss the book arch that greets you at the doorway of the store. The arch is made of several books stacked securely together, acting as the center of the store. “When we were moving our store from Broad Brook to South Windsor, I was at home working on the computer and I got an email through our store’s website and it said ‘We have this book arch, and we’re looking for a home for it.’ They didn’t send a picture or anything and I just said ‘We’ll take it’ because…book arch? It had to be great.”
A couple who were recently married and avid readers had the arch built for their wedding. After the nuptials took place, they did what all book fans do and refused to waste the many novels. Cynde happily accepted the offer, and with the help of her husband, the arch found a new home. It has become quite famous in its time with the shop, even being pictured on Atlas Obscura’s list of “62 of the World’s Best Independent Bookstores” in April 2018. As Cynde shared, “It’s really the heart of the bookstore.”
Book Club supports local authors and artisans alike within the shop, allowing a platform for writers and small businesses to display their work. Many of the gifts featured are made in Connecticut. Local greeting cards, handmade jewelry, literary-themed gifts and handmade rustic signs are offered at Book Club. Cynde makes sure that each product sees success in the shop by not offering competing products. For example, if there is a jewelry vendor featured in the store, they will be the only one. In December, Book Club hosts a pop-up shop, showcasing authors and artisans in-store.
Cynde has even dedicated an entire bookcase exclusively to Connecticut authors. As Cynde explained, “Now that the store is more established, authors will reach out. They can submit an inquiry form on our website and tell us about their book and if they want us to carry it or if they want to appear here for an author event. Something that really sets apart independent book stores and keeps them thriving is offering events and experiences that you can’t get at a big box store or online. If you get the chance to meet your favorite author or an author you never knew about, that’s such a special experience.”
And what a special experience being a part of Book Club is. Book Club is more than just a business; it is a community of authors, readers and artists alike. It holds a charm that only a local community can, and Cynde is happy to be local. “It’s the connections you get to make with your customers and that you get to see them frequently. I wanted to call the store Book Club because I wanted it to have a club feel, where people came in and felt like they were part of the club. And now I see my customers forming friendships, and communicating outside of the store. I love that connection and putting people together. It’s getting involved and being involved with your community.” Cynde is also known for taking her love for reading beyond the shop. Once a month, for the past four years, she visits the senior center in East Windsor to host a book club.
Even if reading is not your cup of tea, or you’re stuck in a reading rut, Cynde recommends that you stop by Book Club. “If someone comes in and they don’t know what they want to read, I love to recommend a book for them. Or if they say ‘Oh, I don’t like to read’ then I’ll say ‘Maybe you’ll want to come to a workshop and learn a new skill.’” Book Club is fun for everyone.
As Book Club celebrates five years, the business continues to grow each day. “We always try to move forward. To bring in even more high caliber authors for events like Best-Selling Authors. We are working on being able to order through our website. It’s about expansion of what we can offer our customers, so we are planning more book club and author events.” In September, Book Club will host New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberly McCreight, author of The Outliers series. She has been featured at the store for each of her books in the series, and has celebrated great success with her novels. Lionsgate Films has purchased the rights to the series in order to film a movie adaption through HBO Films, and will star Nicole Kidman. Lionsgate is known for also making film adaptations of the popular Hunger Games book series. Cynde happily shared, “She’s lovely and we are always excited to host her.”
No matter Book Club Bookstore’s next chapter, it’s clear Cynde is making the business’s story an adventure.
To learn more about upcoming events and being featured at Book Club Bookstore & More, visit their website at www.bookclubct.com or stop by 869 Sullivan Ave. Ste. 6, South Windsor, CT (860)432-7411