For the Winter 2019 Half Moon Books store window update, I wanted to do something interesting but also minimal. I think after Holiday, minimalism is a great motif. I thought of just one solid pillar of books spiraling. There’s repetition and pattern in the simplicity. #monolithic
Click here for more Half Moon Books installation
“Reading is FUNdamental.” I remember learning this slogan when I was a child and it couldn’t have been more true then. It’s still true today. Information and knowledge are both powerful, and we get that from books. Jessica DuPont, owner of Kingston’s Half Moon Books believes that books, rare and vintage, will slow us down and save the world. And I believe her. It’s a dream-come-true to do her store window displays for the past few years so I want to share the love and share the Moon… Let’s meet Jessica!
How did Half Moon Books begin?
I was waiting for a pizza and walked by this decrepit, weird bookstore that had a sign that said “business for sale.” Six months later, I owned it. I had never worked in a bookstore or owned my own business but something told me I could do it, create a great used bookstore. Nine years later I’m still here.
How did you come up with the store’s name?
The year I bought my store was the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s sailing to America on the Half Moon, so it felt like an auspicious choice. Plus I knew the name would lend itself to a great logo. My sister designed it and she did not disappoint!
You make house calls to look at and possibly buy people’s book collections? Tell us about that process.
I love house calls and looking at collections! It’s an opportunity to examine a life through the books that the person chose. I am often asked to look at books after someone has passed away so my only contact with them will be through the knowledge they pursued, the well-worn copies of stories they loved, or a child's book with a name carefully inscribed in crayon. That’s the romantic version. Usually what happens is people have accrued a massive number of books and want to make sure that as many as possible will find a good home. I make that happen.
When you’re picking books for the store, what are some of your key criteria?
Well, there are no brainers, titles that I know will sell. Stuff like Harry Potter is a pretty safe bet. I also operate on instinct. I have a wide variety of interests, so mostly I gamble that the books that I find interesting, that I will want to read, will spark something in my customers. I don’t think you can have a retail shop like mine and not have confidence in your taste. I bet if someone were to make a study of my shelves they would discover some interesting aspect of my personality that I’m not even conscious of.
Why are “real books” still so important to you?
Books slow us down, encourage contemplation and a deeper dive into an area of interest. Fiction can reveal truths about human nature and give us the gift of inhabitation - full immersion into another person’s perspective. Like everybody else, I spend a lot time on screens and what I find relaxing about reading paper books is that they don’t compete against themselves, there is nothing to click on or pull you away from the words at hand.
What genre of books sell best for you?
Fiction and children’s books, cookbooks, art books, religion and philosophy are probably my best sections. I’m always surprised by how much poetry I sell too.
How has the digital age affected your business?
I think that if people are reading and talking about what they are reading then it doesn’t matter what format they use. So I don’t think that kindles have affected me as much overall as smartphones and social media have.
What have your customers been saying about your window displays?
Oh they love them! I see people taking pictures all the time. I don’t really use Instagram but I went on and plugged in #halfmoonbooks and it was this cascade of images of all the great windows you have done over the years.
Oh… Jessica is interviewing me now… Do you have a favorite?
Chris: “The circle.”
Jessica: Me too! That one was hard.
Chris: “I know. I don’t think I could do it again.”
How have you seen Kingston change over the years?
Lots of new businesses, new energy. I have enjoyed watching the O+ Festival grow because it started the same year that I did.
When you’re not selling the coolest and rarest vintage books, what do you like to do for fun?
I look at art, drive my kids all over creation, knit, the usual stuff.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?
Get the money right. Think hard about how much money and how much time you will need. And then double those numbers.
Okay Jessica, it’s time for the SPEED ROUND:
Fave Color: Red
Fave Food: Peanut Butter
Fave Book(s): I love science fiction. Ray Bradbury called it the fiction of ideas and I am all about ideas, so that’s what I’m reading these days.
Fave Song: Ack! Music is my weak spot! I listen to a lot of jazz and funk in the store.
Fave Movie: Harold and Maude
Dive into Jessica’s shelves and score some great vintage books this holiday at Half Moon Books, 35 N. Front Street, Kingston, NY 12401
Another new window installation completed at the wonderful Half Moon Books in Kingston.
I initially pitched an entirely different scheme that Jessica, the owner, didn't seem to keen on. She kept mentioning flowers... So, I knew I had to get her some summer blooms for our 3rd summer window together. Viola, "summer reads" was born.
I used books as petals strung to pegboard. I had found this cool technique of crocheting yarn on pegboard, so I used it for the middle of the bloom as well at the stem. It looks so simple, but the work was painstaking.
Have a great summer and make sure you pop into Half Moon Books to get all your summer vacation reads. xo, Chris