Our December Bookshop of the Month is Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, Florida. Co-owned by Alsace Walentine and Candice Anderson, Tombolo features all genres, including the latest works from renowned and rising voices in the publishing world. It also carries a strong selection of titles by Florida authors, and about the state the Florida.

We were grateful for the chance to catch up with the Tombolo team!

What do you think is special about Tombolo Books?

The magic of indie bookstores is our ability to reflect the values and interests of our local community. We feel special when customers come in and look around and say, “Wow, this is the first time I’ve been in a bookstore that has books about my life.”

If money was no object, what changes would you make to your bookshop?

We would invest in our staff who are incredible and have great futures as booksellers. I would love to send them to all the conferences and workshops that have given us the inspiration and knowledge to get where we are. We would also invest in owning a permanent space for our bookstore.

How / why did you get into bookselling?

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina, is a hub for that community. Alsace started out there with a love for books and wanting to be at the center of all that activity and art. Over the past 20 years it’s taken on more meaning as we’ve learned how important indie bookselling is not only for sustaining local communities, but also for promoting diverse voices and protecting the free exchange of ideas.

What’s the funniest thing you ever heard anyone say in the shop?

We have an ongoing joke about a misunderstanding of our store name. We have received phone calls and mail for a “Mr. (Tom) Bolo.” I don’t know that it qualifies as the funniest thing ever said in the store, but jokes at the expense of Mr. Bolo are now our longest running riff.

What’s your favorite And Other Stories book?

We are fans of Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth and Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patrick Cottrell.

What book published in the last year do our readers need to get their hands on?

I really loved A.K. Blakemore’s debut novel The Manningtree Witches and look forward to whatever they do next. Right now I’m reading The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, which strikes me as essential reading for everyone.

What would be your desert island book?

I’m going to cheat and take three: N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. I’m not an avid fantasy reader, but so many great readers have recommended it to me and I would like nothing more than to have a few days on an empty beach to read the whole thing at once (and then the helicopter can take me home).

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