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
Time for a new store window display at Half Moon Books. For the fall 2018 installation, I wanted to do something like academia meets museum.
I created a plywood pedestal to feature key titles for the fall. I also wanted to highlight the ephemera (learned a new word) prints for sale in the store. I make a grid of clipboards to show the prints at different sizes. The grid keeps cohesiveness for the varied style prints. Postcards scattered at the base.
I also wanted that Museum of Natural History science vibe, so I included hanging magnifying paper to create interesting effects for the passerby. Enjoy and shop local!
Visit my complete Half Moon Books window display gallery here.
and an outtake of yours truly during construction…
For the Winter 2018 Window Installation at Half Moon Books I wanted to do something colorful and fun to offset the grayness of Winter. I was watching an episode of Orange is the New Black and was mesmerized by the book display they made in Poussey's Library during the prisoner siege. That episode was my jumping off point for the latest in my Half Moon Books greatness.
I wanted to use all different colored yarn and this display is a great way to sell the books right out of the window. It's pretty easy to switch out the books.
The side view is really fun. You can look at this from all angles and see something different.
One of my favorite details are the piles of extra yarn on the floor. It's the simple things.
Just finished installing the newest window display for Half Moon Books in Kingston, NY. I call this display... "My Roy G. Biv Soho Loft Vintage Book Fantasy." I've used the fake brick paneling before but have never painted it. Once it became white, it gave me that NYC loft vibe. Jessica and her team did a terrific job picking rainbow books. And a huge thanks to Ken for helping me build the shelving unit structure.
This picture really looks like it could be a window display for a hip store in a cool, artsy town... Wait, it is!!! And yeah, there's a little stump down there for realness.
I also designed and installed brand-new store window decals. They look great. And I picked some fun Christmas items from the thrift store for the museum pedestals.
And finally, the client didn't like how the glass display case showed thru to the back register area, so I found this funky polka paper to block it visually. I think it turned out great.
A huge thanks to Jessica and everyone at Half Moon Books for another successful display! Happy Holidays! xo, Chris