Friday, September 5, 2008

Eco-Libris' Bookstores Series: an interview with Erica Caldwell of Present Tense

Eco-Libris' bookstores program keeps growing and currently includes 26 bookstores in the U.S., Ireland and Canada. Customers at these bookstores have the opportunity to pay $1 to plant a tree to balance each book they purchase there. Customers will also receive an Eco-Libris sticker (made of recycled paper) at the counter for each book they balance out, saying 'One tree planted for this book'.

On our bookstores series we present you with the bookstores that are taking part in the program and the people behind them. Today we have the pleasure to present you with Present Tense of Batavia, NY (halfway between the cities of Buffalo and Rochester) and its owner, Erica Caldwell, whom we interviewed here.

Hello Erica. It's great to have you with us here. When Present Tense was opened? how long you are with the store?

Present Tense opened in August 2005. I have been the owner since we opened.

What you like the most about Present Tense?

I like that we are located in an old house that once belonged to a writer, John H. Yates, who was quite famous in the early 1900s. I'm proud that we are not only providing books to people in the area but that we are also helping preserve a piece of local history.

I saw you offer some special services in the store. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Present Tense offers a full suite of book related services including special orders, out of print searches, gift certificates, book club pre-orders, and a frequent reader discount. Our Volumes program offers special pricing and discounts for corporate, non-profit, and educational organizations.

In store, we offer complimentary gift wrapping and free wireless Internet access. In addition, we welcome community groups to use our Yates Gallery if they need a place to meet.

What do people like most about the store?

People are thrilled that they no longer have to drive half an hour to the nearest metropolitan area to buy books. Our customers are very excited to have a bookstore right here in town now.

You have many events in the store, including book parties, book group meeting, signing events and more. What is the most popular type of event?

Our book discussion groups are wonderful and they attract so many insightful, intelligent, and friendly people to our store. They have become so popular that we now offer two adult groups and one for young adults. Many of our author events are well attended, particularly if they feature local authors, and a few events that have included local history have been well received. I think our customers are very proud of this region and are interested in learning more about its past.

Are there any relationship between the store and the local library/ies?

We work with the local libraries to cross-promote events, and we work closely with them to make the community reading program a success each year. I have also done a few reviews for their weekly book review program.

What is the best selling book right now? What is the all times best selling book?

The Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer have been big sellers this summer and so has The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. Our best selling book since we've opened is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling.

What would be your favorite book in the store?

I can't pick just one! My favorite book that I've read recently is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, my favorite young adult book right now is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax, A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher, So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger, and The Secret River by Kate Grenville are ones I am an advocate for if customers ask for recommendations.

Any special message you want to send to book lovers in Batavia, NY?

Thank you for supporting us for the past three years!

So if you're anywhere near Batavia, NY you're invited to visit the store (101 Washington Avenue, Batavia, NY 14020). You won't regret it! And of course, you can also visit their website at

Past guests on our series:

Erin Thompson of Black Bear Books (Boone, NC)
Marva Allen of the Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe (New York, NY)

James “Surendra” Conti of East West Bookstore (Mountain View, CA)

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!