Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the bookstore “Paperbacks and Frybread Co.” in any way. This is my honest review after purchasing from their store.
Being a content creator or a small business owner can really suck sometimes. What I do currently counts as “content creation.” Let me tell you, it can be soul-crushing to work for literal hours on a post that gets 3+ viewers, like this dumb image I made for the “Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 3” movie. But you carry on because you feel you have something wonderful and worth sharing.
Earlier in July 2022, the small online bookstore “Paperbacks and Frybread Co.” hosted an in-person bookfair, and no one went. I can only imagine how much work the owner, Dominique, must have put into organizing this event, and I think a lot of us can relate to the feeling of throwing an event and having no one show up. Sadly, I live in the Bay Area, and the book fair was in North Carolina, so I would not have been able to make it. Otherwise, it looked like a lot of fun. I miss my Scholastic Bookfair days and am a little too thirsty to recapture that magic from my youth.
(Also, please consider this your sign to go to that party or event your friend or acquaintance is hosting if you’re on the fence, so long as it’s safe from a public health perspective)
A few days later, I was wasting time on TikTok when I came across the following video by user @torybae, promoting her friend’s business. She describes the business as an online boutique specializing in black, indigenous, and other authors of color, and the business itself is owned by an indigenous woman and her family.
This video struck a chord with me for several reasons. First, one of my goals as a writer and communicator is to try to elevate and support women and people of color. Through whichever means I can, I want to support them. I am not an expert on the best way to do this, but I’m committed to trying and learning what I can do to be a better ally.
Another reason this Tiktok resonated with me is that I am lucky enough to have a kind group of friends who support me and promote my content, even when I feel like what I write about is pointless. I love to share interesting movies, books, and experiences with people, but it does not always reach my intended audience. I have friends who share my content, read my too-long blog, and comment kind things on my work. It feels amazing, and having that support means the world to me. So, if you are the kind of person who promotes their friends’ work, please know that you are appreciated.
After that Tiktok experience, I went to the Paperbacks and Frybread website and did some searching. I liked that the website was well-organized and even had a page dedicated to selling banned books. I was unfamiliar with many of the books in the store, but luckily, I didn’t have to decide. Paperbacks and Frybread has the “Pick Your Magic Book Boxes” option, and I selected the $20 Amethyst box. The Magic Book boxes are a surprise book purchase in which you describe what kinds of books you like, and the store’s owner, Dominique, makes a selection for you based on your descriptions! I thought this was a good option and wanted to give it a shot. The last time I bought a mystery book, it ended up being the first in the “Saga” series, so I’ve had good luck with mystery purchases. I also thought the price was reasonable for a book curation, so I went for it (there is a no-return policy on the book box, but I was okay with that).
In addition to the Amethyst Box, I also selected a sticker because I have decided that those are my personality now. My total purchase with shipping came to just under $28. On the checkout page, I included the following request for my Amethyst Book box:
“For my box, I would love either a romance or something fun and spooky! Mythology is also something I adore. My favorite stories include ‘The Gargoyle,’ ‘Persuasion,’ and ‘The Myth of Eros and Psyche’.”
My package arrived within a little over a week of my initial order, which surprised me because I am a total eBay addict and am used to waiting months for my stuff to arrive. I tried to do an unboxing video, but the video was unwatchable, so instead, I took photos and wrote this blog post about it.
I received not one but two books in my Amethyst box, the sticker I ordered, bookmarks, a little bag containing more stickers and a cute little amethyst, and a hand-written note describing my books! (The note is addressed with my real name, Alexandra, because my mother did not gestate me for nine months just to name me “Miss Posabule” or “Hagfish.”)
The books I received are “The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily” by Laura Creedle and “Beyond the Black Door” by A.M. Strickland. I’m unfamiliar with these authors, so I did some cursory research. Laura Creedle is a neurodivergent author living in Texas, and A.M. Strickland is a Y.A. Author living in Alaska. My favorite genres include “Romance,” “Science-Fiction,” and “Spooky Books With Children Protagonists Who Face Scary Circumstances But Everything Ends Happily,” so I’m very pleased with my books!
I haven’t read these books yet and don’t know if I’ll like them, but I’m excited to read them! When I do, I’ll review them on my Goodreads if you’re at all interested in my opinion. I especially appreciate that these books did feel curated based on my interests. I like a wide genre of books, which may also contribute to my satisfaction as a buyer, but I could tell genuine care went into this order.
Purchasing from a small business can be expensive and difficult for some people. Not everyone can afford to “take a risk” and try something new and uncertain. I am glad I did, and although I’ll probably continue hunting eBay and library sales for most of my treasures, I plan on purchasing again from Paperbacks and Frybread Co. I thought the prices were very reasonable and I am happy with what I received.
The store does sell some books I’m familiar with and recommend, including Tanya Tagaq’s “Split Tooth” (a total trip and definitely worth listening to as an audiobook) and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass” (absolutely spell-binding). I hope the store’s selection continues to expand, particularly regarding mythology and folklore options. I look forward to seeing how this bookshop grows and wish them success. The store has been gaining quite a bit of popularity online, so I’m really happy for them!
I think the world is always a better place with more passion and bookshops.