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State of the Arts: Indie Book Stores, VPR Election


Published January 7, 2009 at 6:33 a.m.

A town with four independent bookstores, but no Borders or B&N? At a time when each week brings news of indie page purveyors closing around the nation — including such institutions as Berkeley’s Cody’s Books — Vermont’s well-read capital city is worth noting. Sure enough, last Sunday, Janet Mendelsohn gave the city’s book scene a write-up in The Boston Globe. “Montpelier is America the way it used to be,” the owner of Rivendell Books told her.

In a piece called “Between the Covers Is Where They Live to Be,” Mendelsohn describes making a return visit to the nation’s smallest state capital with three of her friends, all Vermont College of Fine Arts alumnae, for — what else? — a reading. The group stayed at Betsy’s Bed and Breakfast and noshed at the Black Door Bar & Bistro, Capitol Grounds and NECI-run La Brioche. But the motivation for the story was Mendelsohn’s simple query: “Could the small bookstores be the charmers we remembered?” That launched a browsing tour of Rivendell, Bear Pond Books, The Book Garden and Black Sheep Books, with its in-depth collection of radical tomes. They found knowledgeable staff, rare finds and “no trash.”

“Montpelier has a literate population,” Book Garden owner Rick Powell explained. “They’re very motivated to shop locally to keep downtown viable.” Let’s hope Bostonians will read all about it, come up, and buy a few books.


Vermont Public Radio announced Monday that President Mark Vogelsang is leaving, after 15 years at the station, for National Public Radio. Vice President of Development Robin Turnau, 43, will be stepping into his very large shoes, selected unanimously by the VPR board. Vogelsang, 53, will be “helping create a new approach to philanthropic giving across the country in partnership with stations.” Regular listeners certainly know from innumerable fundraising drives that his dulcet baritone is persuasive: VPR consistently ranks in the top-10 public radio stations in the country. One of the outgoing president’s achievements was expanding VPR into two distinct networks — one for news and information, the other for classical music. Good luck, Mark, and congratulations, President-elect Turnau!