While rushing to find a last-minute birthday present for a friend, I stumbled upon Interabang Books, the brand new independent bookstore on Preston and Royal. I found myself in absolute book heaven.
Coincidentally, I came during their opening weekend, so the store was full of excited readers exploring the many beautiful books displayed. There were even poets writing free poems on actual typewriters.
Overwhelmed by so many great options, I asked one of the booksellers to recommend something I needed to read. I left practically skipping with a poem written for my friend’s birthday, Evening by Susan Minot, and a desire to spend my entire life at Interabang Books.
I interviewed Elizabeth Hamilton, the digital marketing coordinator for Interabang Books. She manages their social media, writes their weekly newsletters, and runs their website which contains information about the store as well as articles about recommended books and literary news.
To work at such a wonderful bookstore as Interabang, one must have a profound love of reading. Hamilton’s favorite books are Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Her current favorite is Silence by Shusaku Endo.
Interabang Books’ unusual name comes from a dated printmaking term. The interabang is a symbol morphed from a question mark and an exclamation point, expressing both ‘discovery’ and ‘excitement’ which are the core values of the store.
“I think that they were looking at different ideas for the name and a lot of them were just really generic—’Preston Hollow Bookstore’ and that sort of thing. Interabang was listed and I think Nancy, one of the owners, was very intrigued by it and it just stood out from the rest,” said Hamilton.
Although there was a possibility of locating Interabang Books in one of the more hip neighborhoods in Dallas, they chose this spot on Preston Road and Royal Lane. For Ursuline girls who live near school, this close proximity to amazing books is fantastic.
One of the main factors behind creating an independent bookstore in Dallas was one for the owners Nancy, as in Nancy Perot, who had been longing for a Dallas independent bookstore like Brazos Bookstore in Houston or BookPeople in Austin.
Perot writes on the Interabang website, “If you are a book lover, nothing compares to the excitement, the anticipation of walking into a really wonderful bookstore. We think bookstores are more important than ever and they are definitely making a comeback. Dallas is a very literary city and every great city needs great bookstores.”
Interabang Books offers over 12,000 books spanning many different genres in both fiction and nonfiction. They carry bestseller and books from large publishing houses, but being an independent bookstore, they also highlight independent book presses.
“A lot of the books that [the book buyers] choose are from small presses that maybe are publishing really fabulous writers but those presses are not getting the publicity that they would otherwise.” Hamilton said, “We have the honor of bringing them here and sharing them with people who we think would like those books.”
The job of selecting books for the store goes to Lori Feathers in the adult section and Lisa Plumer in the kid’s section. Since Interabang is an independent bookstore, Feathers and Plumer can easier curate the titles that appear in their sections. They meet with publishers who present them with books the publishers think Interabang readers would be interested in.
“Lori and Lisa are really well-read. They read a book a week at least, and see which ones they want to carry and which ones they want to put up as a staff recommendation and really feature them in the store,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton describes her favorite part of working at Interabang books is when “someone takes a book that I have read and really loved or has affected me deeply or really changed the way I thought about something. I see them interested in it and buying it and hopefully reading it—that’s just really gratifying and cool.”
Book recommendations from Interabang’s extremely knowledgeable and well-read staff set them apart from chain bookstores by providing a more helpful and friendly book-buying experience. Recommendations, the ability to handpick books for their store, and their frequent events are what distinguished Interabang Books from a chain bookstore or an online resource.
Hamilton said, “Sometimes we’ll have something going on every night of the week. We bring in a lot of big authors and all of our events are free so anyone can come. A lot of times we’ll have complimentary beverages available and the speakers will sign books and have panel discussions.”
One of their events students will be excited for is their young adult book club help once a month. The book for October was Thornhill by Pam Smy and the November book is The Arsonist by
Stephanie Oakes. Teens get to vote each month on the book they want to read for the next month.
“It’s just a discussion but Melanie leads it. It’s just really kind of where the conversation wants to go as far as what questions people have and what comments they have. The first one we did we had two authors come,” Hamilton said.
Many girls who were avid readers in elementary and grade school discover that finding time to read in high school is much more difficult due to the increased workload and extracurricular commitments. Hamilton had a similar experience in high school in college but offers some advice.
“If you are someone who wants to read more, probably the best thing to do is to find what it is that you really want to read, that you can’t put down—a book that’s worth fitting into your schedule.” Hamilton also said, “It can be kind of a different way to get out of the hectic side of studying for exams and writing papers so there’s that as well.”
Dallas is anxious to see the impact Interabang Books will have on the community and our daily lives.
Hamilton said, “I think the vision for this store is pretty grand. I think we really want this to be sort of a community center for all of Dallas and to be a place where people can come and find books that expose them to new ideas, find old favorites, come and talk about books with other people who are reading, and come and meet interesting people who are writing about interesting things.”