Recently, we learned about a new bookstore in California that carries only books published by small press and independent authors: Pipe & Thimble. Their grand opening is May 6, 2017 in Lomita, CA, and it's been very fun to watch this unique bookstore come together through the posts on their Facebook page. Dealing with bookstores as a small press can often be frustrating, but Barbara and Ellie Lieberman of Pipe & Thimble know those frustrations quite well themselves, and made the process of getting a few World Weaver Press books onto their shelves pleasant and painless. If you're in the area, please be sure to stop by Pipe & Thimble, and let us know about your experience!
Below, Barbara and Ellie answer a few questions about their new store and their vision.
Can you tell us a little about how Pipe & Thimble Publishing got started and why you decided to branch out to become an indie bookstore?
Pipe & Thimble comes from a handmade miniatures business started by our parents and grandparents. The pipe was a reference to Richard Austin, known for smoking a pipe with cherry tobacco, who did all the wood working of the perfectly-to-scale furniture and the thimble was a reference to Peg Austin who did the sewing and painting details. When Peg got sick, Barbara stepped in as the thimble. Our bookstore and publishing company are based on the charm of the miniatures, as well as the way Richard and Peg conducted business, with fairness, respect, and creating a community.
About two handmade businesses and a number of self-published books later, we began to grow frustrated in dealing with both local bookstore and big chains. Between the outrageous cost, lack of respect, and lack of understanding of the indie author experience, we turned these frustrations and disappointments into something positive. We wanted to “do indie better,” by offering a platform that is often unavailable to indie authors and do better by them. With both the knowledge of the inner workings of the indie world, including how we differ from big press and the amazing sense of community, as well as the knowledge of how to run a business, we thought we’d try our hand at it.
Aside from books, what are some of the crafts and other artisanal goodies that customers will be able to find at your store?
As an indie bookstore, we really want to support every aspect of the indie community. This includes musicians. We not only carry their CDs, but every second Friday, we’ll have live music.
Along with indie music, we are working with a small number of handmade artisans. Their products include pincushions made out of vintage fabric, bags and neckware made of recycled vintage neckties, embroidered handbags and plushies, greeting cards, art prints, soap, bath and body products, and jewelry (including Viking Knit Jewelry and Guitar Pick Earrings). We also have product from our own handmade business including fairy houses, fairy doors, and other fairy products, as well as scented dryer balls, scented bookmarks, and other scented products. We’d also be greatly remiss if we didn’t mention our miniature thimble bears.
Other items we carry include book swag. From posters to charm bracelets to mugs to coasters to more. We also have these amazing hand knit chrysalis and butterfly made by one of our authors to go along with her book.
Going forward, we’re planning on having scented candles, handmade dolls, scented candles and more! We would also love to work with indie filmmakers and other parts of the indie community.
What fun things are you planning for the Grand Opening on May 6th?
The Grand Opening includes a ribbon cutting ceremony, delicious food from RSVPea Catering, live music, authors and artisans meet and greet and more. There is our teaching garden to walk through, with signs about the plants and tricks to use when gardening. There will be raffles, as well.
How do you plan to promote your store within the local community of Lomita, California?
One of the most amazing things about this experience is the sense of community both within Lomita and online. First and foremost, we do a lot on social media. We will be promoting across multiple platforms. Right now, Facebook has been major in spreading the word and we really have the authors and artisans to thank for that. We’re also on Twitter and, more recently, Youtube. Online we use any tool we can find from Thunderclap to online calendars. We are also present in many local Facebook groups dedicated to the City of Lomita.
We send out press releases. We work closely with the incredible and amazingly talented podcaster, Dot Cannon of Noelophile and Over Coffee. We’re working on getting picked up by more print media. Local stores, such as the local Ace Hardware, which has been extremely helpful in renovating the shop, are handing out fliers for us.
Just by our Vistaprint signs by the street and on the building itself, there’s been so much reception and response by people driving or walking by. We have people knocking on our door, asking if and when we’ll be open. There is much buzz and excitement through that alone. There was a teenager who took a sneak peek tour of the store and her eyes grew to the size of saucers. She was very excited about just the thought of having a bookstore in Lomita, let alone new books and indie books.
Overall, the response has been overwhelming.
What’s your vision for the future of Pipe & Thimble?
We set out to help indie authors. We are striving to not only elevate people’s awareness and to combat preconceived notions and stigma about the word “indie,” but also educate. How many readers realize just how important reviews are, or how to work Amazon’s complex algorithms to even make their review count? We’d like to make a difference in how the larger world sees and treats an indie author and their work.
We want events that not only bolster sales for authors and bring their name to the forefront, but also give readers a chance to meet an author and vice versa. We already have quite a number of events on the calendar and more coming, but we want to be a place that is known for reconnecting that aspect of the book world.
We, also, want to branch out to other aspects of the indie community. We are an indie store and one of the things that always confused us about trying to work with other local, indie bookstores, was if you call yourself “indie,” why aren’t you helping the others also called, “indie?” There are musicians, filmmakers, game developers, artists, entrepreneurs, as well as authors. We’re already working with authors, artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and musicians. We’d love to expand into filmmakers, game developers, and more.
People have already asked about franchising from around the world. Who knows what the future may bring, but we think it would be pretty cool to have Pipe & Thimble stores in other locations.
Ultimately, though, our goal is a community. We already have the start of something great and, through our plans, we hope to make it even better. Our plans include weekly community activities, from movie and board game night to concerts to art galleries and poetry readings. We want to be a place that families come back to time and time again.
Community is at the heart of this store. We don’t believe in competition here at Pipe & Thimble. We believe for us to succeed, everyone needs to succeed. It’s what we based our business model on.
Pipe & Thimble Bookstore opens May 6, 2017 at 24830 Narbonne, Lomita, CA.
A grand opening party with live music and local authors runs all day on May 6th, beginning at 11am.
Barbara Lieberman is a partner of Pipe & Thimble Publishing. She is the author of fourteen books, including her McEwen Historical Fiction series.
Barbara is a former Family Literacy Specialist, Adult Education/Tutor, and college course Teaching Assistant. Along with being a partner in Pipe & Thimble and a published author, she is also an inspirational speaker, available to speak on the topics of living well while living with chronic illness and publishing and working within the indie community.
Barbara's Author website
Barbara's books on Amazon
Barbara's Author Page on FB
Follow Barb on Twitter: @Seeds2Inspire
Ellie Lieberman is a partner of Pipe & Thimble Publishing. She is the author of two YA books and her first illustrated children's book, The Butter Thief, as well as being the owner of Acorn Tops, handmade fairy products to enchant your world.
Ellie Lieberman's Author website
Acorn Tops Website
Ellie's books on Amazon
Ellie's Author Page on FB
Follow Ellie on Twitter: @AcornTops
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.