Maybe it's no longer worthy of comment, since people have been remarking on Sundance Books and Music's longevity for years, but the bookstore seems to just keep growing and improving, particularly since it took over the Levy Mansion, 121 California Avenue. Stephanie Lauer has worked for Sundance for eight years. She says there's no secret to the business' success—it's grounded in the community and offers a human connection. For more information, check out www.sundancebookstore.com.
What’s new going on here at Sundance? How is it you guys are still growing continuously?
Part of what we’ve really enjoyed about moving to this new location is we’re much more connected and intertwined with our neighborhood and with the other people who are doing really exciting things in this neighborhood. There are a lot of people, I think, who are looking for that experience, which is an experience where you come and you talk to actual people. You go to an actual event with people who also participate in your community. And we’re doing more and more work with people in different organizations like the Holland Project. Or we have big events where, like David Sedaris came and spoke on the porch, and Bibo stayed open late, and the pizza shop [Blue Moon] stayed open late. And it’s just more and more of a neighborhood experience, especially since we’ve been here.
I’m interested in how you’re doing it from a financial aspect. That seems counter to the way things are going in the country.
We’ve seen a return in people who want to read an actual physical book, not an ebook. We’re not the cheapest place to buy a book. If that’s how you’re making the choice, you’re probably not here in the first place. We just try to be the most … solid, and always have a really interesting selection of things that we think the people we know and the people we don’t know—books that we think are awesome—would like to come in and look at.
What do you attribute that need for a physical book to? I’m an e-book guy, but it’s almost like I want different kinds of media for different kinds of books. Like I prefer old-school books for poetry.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder book that sold so many copies at Christmas, are you familiar with that one? South Dakota State Historical Society put out this book. It’s like an annotated Little House on the Prairie. It traces everyone she wrote about. And it's this huge beautiful book, and it's so much fun to spend time with and to hold. And I can't imagine reading that on my iPhone. But I can totally imagine reading a mystery novel on my iPhone.
So what are some other things going on here? How’s the publishing house?
We’ve got some great books coming out this year. A children’s board book, a book of poetry, a novel. All that’s in the works. It’s really fun. It’s always going on on the third floor, people in and out.
And what’s your part in that?
I’m the peanut gallery. Like for real, I’m the peanut gallery. I sit up there and pay all of Sundance’s bills and sit up there and do a lot of paperwork and just weigh in.
What else should we talk about in this little corner of heaven?
I love it. Tonight is another Sunland, which is the symposium series we’ve been running with the Holland Project. It’s the history of hip-hop in Northern Nevada. They’re awesome. We fly in a couple panelists from different places, have a moderator. They talk, but it’s very much everyone who comes and listens talks as well. It’s a discussion. We had one on the genesis of the Grunge movement in Seattle. We had the president of Sub-Pop Records come for that one. They’re usually packed, and it’s fun because it’s packed by people who are in their early 20s. We’re seeing a lot more young people come in, buy books.