FEATURED INDIE: R.J. Julia Booksellers

Here at Atelier26, we love shining a light on America's best independent booksellers. Independents and their staff are in the business of knowing their neighborhoods, clientele, and clientele's particular tastes (a far cry from the M.O. of Amazon or the chains). Indies thereby do a profound service to their communities -- and, by ripple effect, to the larger culture in our country. It's no stretch to say that vitality of the indies means vitality for democratic culture itself, which begins in and consists of (what else?) neighborhoods! 

Our latest Featured Indie is R.J. Julia in Madison, Connecticut.

Halfway between New York City and Boston, in the shoreline community of Madison, Connecticut, you’ll find R.J. Julia Booksellers, one of this nation’s most respected and dynamic indies. Born 23 years ago, when Roxanne Coady decided to leave a high-power, high-salary Manhattan accounting career in order to found “the bookstore of [her] dreams” in a former pub, today R.J. Julia, with its large staff of extremely knowledgeable booksellers, its more than 300 events a year, its intensive service to book clubs, and yes, its in-house cafĂ©, is a Madison treasure and a beacon for readers and booksellers around the country.

Recipient of numerous trade awards and honors, including the Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year Award, R.J. Julia’s stated mission is:

“to be a place where words matter, where writer meets reader, where the ambiance and selection and merchandising of books creates an atmosphere that is welcoming and presents the opportunity for discovery. Ultimately we are fiercely committed to putting the right book in the right hand.”  

As a brilliant outgrowth of this mission, in 2011 R.J. Julia launched an online offshoot called Just the Right Book, a service offering readers anywhere the personal attention of real booksellers via the Internet. 

Atelier26 author Harriet Scott Chessman reading at R.J. Julia
How’s that for an answer to the soulless algorithmic book “recommendations” of online behemoths! Here’s a dedicated, gloriously actual store staffed by warmly actual human beings who prefer the term readers rather than “customers” for their clientele, whether in-person or online. 

Clearly, these are booksellers who recognize the old-fashioned, time-honored handsell as something far more significant than a mere commercial transaction. For such stewards of the trade, "the right book in the right hand" denotes a human connection of a meaningful, multidimensional kind. Bookstores like R.J. Julia exist to facilitate readerly discoveries, which are among the most abidingly meaningful things within a community and a culture.

“We hope,” R.J. Julia tells readers, “that we continue to serve as credible eyes and ears in an onslaught of advertising and the 50,000 books published each year.”

 We trust you will, R.J. Julia! 

 Atelier26 is proud to report that Harriet Scott Chessman's The Beauty of Ordinary Things in stock at R.J. Julia.