Sunday, 3 November 2013
In my perfect world, actual physical books peacefully co-exist with virtual Kindle versions, and book stores remain viable retail options. In this world, bookstores are locally owned and operated, and are quirky, peaceful and inspiring places totally tuned into the local community.
Sadly this vision is getting harder and harder to find, but I can report there is still one of these great shopping experiences available here in Kelowna,
Mosaic Books has been Kelowna's largest independent bookstore since 1968, and - I am happy to say - is still going strong. This is where you go when you are in the mood to browse the stacks, or chat to friendly, knowledgeable booksellers about what's new and great. You can also keep your finger on the pulse of local authors, book launches and readings.
Since moving to the Oknagan, I have popped into Mosaic to stock up on fashion and interior design magazines, attended books launches of local authors, and chatted to staff about the local poetry scene. I love to spend an hour or so perusing the stacks of books, and seeing what great book launches are coming up. Recently, I also had a quick chat with manager Trevor Neill about all things 'Mosaic', as follows:
TG(N)L: What, in your opinion, makes Mosaic special? What is it's USP?
TN: There really isn't one particular aspect that makes Mosaic unique, rather, a collection of fine details that set the business apart. For one, Mosaic is a true family owned and operated business. I manage, my sister, Alicia, is the receiver/co-manager, and our parents, Michael and Michele, own the store. A family working so close together allows any aspect of the business to be custom tailored to suit our vision. There's no corporate office or red tape to fiddle with, so Mosaic represents small town ideals and the locavore spirit.
Besides the behind the scenes, Mosaic Books is very unique in it's physical size. We are one of the larger brick and mortar independent booksellers in North America, boosting over eight thousand square feet of books for kids and adults. At this very moment on Mosaic's shelves, there are 14,214 new book titles and 11,341 bargain priced titles. That's 25,555 individual titles. Combine that with our online catalogue of over 5 million titles available fast and with no shipping cost, and you'd be hard pressed to walk out of Mosaic empty handed.
TG(N)L: As an independent bookseller, how do you feel about Amazon.com and it's impact on the locally owned bookstore?
TN: Ah yes, the Amazon. It's funny, the once small and book exclusive online shop has now dominated pretty much every retail sector, from books to cars to washing machine replacement parts. You'd be hard pressed to find any independent or physical retail business that has not been effected by Amazon's price slashing enterprise. But here's the thing: people are price conscious, yes, but they're also physical. They like to touch and feel things, they like to converse with fellow humanoids in person, and they like to get out of their homes in that off chance that something unexpected will happen. Whether it be books or shoes or whatever, us physical retailers offer that genuine human connection. We offer one on one expertise and knowledge. We offer smells and sounds and rough edges. We try our best to not make these human details cost an exuberant premium, but let's face it: we will never be able to win the price battle with these online giants, and if you don't understand that, then you don't understand us.
TG(N)L: Any new author visits, readings, launches, or events in the near future that we should know about?
TN: No major author events are in the slate until the new year (I will say this: Diana Gabaldon fans, rejoice! She's got a new book in the Outlander series coming out in the new year, and we "may" be hosting her book launch), but we do have our annual sale coming up. It's actually our 45th anniversary coming up this November, so we'll probably be pulling out all the stops for this year's sale. Store-wide discounts and giveaways are in the works, so stay posted as the details roll out.
Mosaic Books: 411 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 6N8
Tel: 250 763 4418
Note: You can also check out Trevor's book reviews of the new Douglas Copeland novel and the Chris Hadfield biography in the Fall 2013 issue of Icon-Okanagan; on stands now, or read online at http://www.icon-okanagan.com/library/