MEDINA — Julie Berry is the author of such works as the picture book “Happy Right Now” and the Young Adult fiction piece “All the Truth That’s in Me.” She believes that every author, in his or her heart, secretly longs for a cozy corner surrounded by books where they can interact with their readers.
To that end, she traveled back home with her family – from Los Angeles to Medina – to take over the building that housed “The Book Shoppe” and rename and reopen it as “Author’s Note: A Bookstore.”
The Book Shoppe, at 519 Main St., was owned by Sue Phillips for more than 20 years before being sold to Gloria and Frederick Fierch in December of 2019. The next year, the store was put on the market.
It was a chance that Berry couldn’t see losing.
“I couldn’t bear the thought of it ceasing to be a bookstore and I knew if someone who wasn’t passionate about bookstores bought it, it would become something else,” Berry said. “I think it’s so wonderful when there’s a bookstore on Main Street in a community. I think it says something about what the community values.”
While it will still have coffee — everyone seems to want know about that, Berry said, laughing — the space will be bigger. Currently, the store is under renovation and will open in early May with the launching of Berry’s companion-book to Happy Right Now: “Cranky Right Now.”
Berry believes independent book stores like The Book Shoppe and now Author’s Note are a credit to Medina and everyone who lives here. To her, a bookstore is a place where communities gather, and writers and their readers can make a much needed connection.
“I’ve really followed the independent bookstore industry over the course of my career, because independent book stores have been so crucial to my success,” Berry said. “They’ve really championed my work and have helped get the career that I have. ... I am a big believer in their importance to the publishing industry, to communities, to arts and culture and literacy in the community. They play such a role in getting kids excited by reading.”
“There are many ways to purchase a book, but bookstores bring authors and readers together,” she said.
Berry never met another living author until she went to college. She thought that was rather sad and plans to host social events for authors at Author’s Note.
“What a difference that would’ve meant to me as a little girl who dreamed of writing!” she said. “Who (actually) thought that published authors were like gods on Mount Olympus, you know?”
While she had to take her journey away from Medina, Berry said she’s happy to be back and noted that if The Book Shoppe had opened before 1991, she might never have left.
“I was 16 when I lived here last, so I was a very young person and I was at that stage of life where you want to see a wider horizon," she said. "There’s something so sweet about coming back to this place where people who knew me from the very beginning. … You can always come home to family and friends and where you first belonged and that really means a lot to me. It feels like reconnecting with my childhood.”
“If there’d been a bookstore when I was a kid, oh my, I would’ve been pounding on the door, begging for a job.”