In this episode of “Behind The Counter,” your host Andy Didorosi and co-host Annamarie Sysling go to Source Booksellers to talk with the shop’s owner Janet Webster Jones.
In the 27 years that Source has been in business, Janet has gone from selling books at community events, to having an area in the shared retail space The Spiral Collective to finally having her own shop on Cass Avenue in the Auburn Building. Aside from the evolution of her non-fiction book business, Janet has also had a front-row seat in the transformation of Midtown. She remembers annual art fairs organized by Wayne State University, designed to encourage people to visit the area surrounding the campus. And, in the last 15 years, she says the work of Midtown Inc. has created a nest of retailers in the district; the kind of place she’s always wanted to have a business. “I like to think that bookstores in particular bring a special texture to a place,” says Janet, who considers book shops like hers, “an integral community gathering space,” where people don’t have to buy anything to come and enjoy it.
Source Booksellers has a strong core with several genre focuses, including history and culture, sustainability, metaphysics and spirituality, health and well being and books by and about women. Janet says it’s important for businesses of all kinds to recognize their place in the big picture of their field. It’s why she enjoys visiting other bookstores, attending annual conferences and participating in special events. Aside from understanding her role in the larger book community, she also takes her responsibility to the Detroit community very seriously. “If you want to go into business and you’re just looking at what money you can make, thats only half the story,” says Janet. The other half, she explains, is creating an equal exchange and bond with the public. “If you want to serve the community, you have to figure out what it is you have that the community may benefit from and that’s what you do.”
Throughout this episode, additional topics of discussion include Paris, banned books, Sue Mosey, independent literature, Border’s, Ned Sublette and Afropop.
Episode Credits: Intro and Outro Music by Broke For Free. Episode edited by Annamarie Sysling.