“Buying a book is not about obtaining a possession . . . but about securing a portal.” Laura Miller, books and culture columnist
As we approach the holidays and then hunker down for the long winter months ahead, browsing in a local bookstore is a must as a place to buy books and gifts for family, friends, and even for yourself.
Old and New Favorites and Hidden Gems
Bob and Angel Dubrow opened Zenith Bookstore at 318 N. Central Avenue in the heart West Duluth in July of 2017. They have always loved books, and some of their own vast collection became part of the inventory for their store.
As the couple describes it, they had a lifetime dream of opening a bookstore “to establish a place that celebrates a passion for books and reading while fostering inclusiveness and community.”
“The ‘meat and potatoes’ of the store is our fiction section including everything from sci-fi and fantasy to mysteries. We also have a strong children’s section, as well as regional/local authors, history, biography, and more,” said Bob.
Zenith Books has an active calendar of “meet the authors” events and book releases. One exciting event this fall was their evening with popular Minnesota author William Kent Krueger, featuring discussions, passage readings, and book signings, of his The River We Remember.
Held at the Depot Theater, this event was co-sponsored by Zenith, the Duluth Public Library and Foundation, and the Depot, with Angel Dubrow as the moderator.
Another recent big event was their Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook release of Smoke on the Waterfront by Mary T. Smith. It was held in the new Smokehaus space, formerly occupied by the Amazing Grace Café in the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace.
Bob and Angel love hosting author events every week, including Minnesota authors such as Alex Messenger, Margi Preus, Joshua Mohling, Mindy Meja, and Jess Morgan.
Zenith takes in customers’ “gently used” books, (including from estate and large collections), and gives people store credit that can be used for anything in the store – just like cash. This gives Zenith a wide selection of used books for their customers to purchase at great prices.
For the holidays and year-round, Zenith has gift cards that are easy to purchase and use online. Gift cards may be redeemed in-store and online, and they never expire. They also have a customer rewards program.
Besides their new and used books, other beautiful gifts include art-style bookmarks, journals, book bags, magnets, book lights, watercolor pencils, plush toys, puzzles, store-logo clothing, cribbage boards, and much more.
The Dubrows are also excited for their annual Jólabókaflód (Yule Book Flood), an Icelandic tradition of gifting books and cozying up to read with family and friends on cold winter nights.
For Jólabókaflód, Zenith is partnering once again with the Duluth-based Mike & Jen's to offer their delicious, all-natural cocoa with gift-wrapped book purchases. The event continues through December. Gift wrapping and free shipping are also part of the store’s services.
Zenith offers discounts for educators and a classroom and school order discount of 20%. K-12 educators, home-schooling parents, and librarians receive a 10% discount for individual purchases.
Another fun opportunity for customers are Zenith’s meetings once a month for a book club, for poetry lovers, and for a national book club for children’s books enthusiasts.
“When we were getting ready to retire, we looked all over the country for a place to live and a place to open our bookstore. We are so happy that we chose Duluth for our home and the home for our store,” said Angel.
Faithful customers love Zenith as a hidden gem, with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a cozy atmosphere,
The Bookstore at Fitger’s
A Readers’ and Shoppers’ Delight
The Bookstore at Fitger’s is located on the first floor of the Fitger’s Mall Building at 600 E Superior Street. They are a full-service, locally owned, independent bookseller.
According to store manager Jennifer Jubenville, roughly half their shoppers are tourists, and the other half are locals. Shopping at The Bookstore, along with many other small businesses and restaurants, all located under one roof at Fitger’s, adds to the shopping experience.
Jubenville appreciates the charm of the Fitger’s Building. “I love books, and I love working in this old, historic building,” Jubenville said.
The Bookstore’s collection of books features the history, cultures, nature, lifestyle, cuisine, activities, and folklore of Lake Superior, the North Shore, and the Northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Customers appreciate their great variety of books, including unique regional titles such as Betty’s Pie Shop Cookbook, Lost Duluth, and a great selection of mysteries with local settings.
According to Jubenville, in addition to regional titles, they curate the best selected fiction and non-fiction titles, catering to a variety of interests and tastes. Their children’s section is overflowing with books for all ages, and toys, dolls, games, and more, making it a fun pace to to buy kids’ holiday and birthday gifts.
The Bookstore is proud to host a variety of authors for book signings, discussions, and author readings. This fall, area poets Bart Sutter and Linda LeGarde Grover were featured.
Past author events have included Dr. Bill Himango, an area retired neurosurgeon, with his book Provenance, and Mark Munger, a local lawyer and District Court Judge, with his new book Boomtown.
This past spring, Fitger’s also welcomed Duluth native and Olympian Kara Goucher who gave an author talk on her new book, The Longest Race.
Recently, The Bookstore hosted authors Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker who spoke about Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope. WDIO anchor Darren Danielson moderated the event, and the authors also signed autographs after the discussion.
For the perfect present for the readers among your family and friends, The Bookstore offers gift certificates in any amount for any occasion. They will mail gift certificates along with your personal messages in beautiful greeting cards. Certificates always “fit” and never expire.
Shoppers will appreciate their potpourri of quality gift items including puzzles, coffees, Abdallah candies, socks, journals, holiday ornaments, note cards, journals, calendars, greeting cards, Fitger’s branded merchandise and more.
“We are working on getting a Book Club going,” added Jubenville. Bulk discounts are available on a case by case basis.
The Bookstore offers an educator discount with 15% off the entire regular-priced purchase when the teacher shows an ID.
Jubenville added that they are in the process of establishing a rewards program. The also have ongoing discounts from a number of different publishers; shoppers should check their website for information.
Supporting Local Bookstores and Local Authors
On the importance of shopping locally and reading local authors, Jubenville added, “When you spend money in local stores, you are placing a vote saying ‘this is important to me.’ You are saying you appreciate the local stores and local authors. And you appreciate how much local businesses give back to the community.”