About Literati® & Our History in Ann Arbor

Literati Bookstore® is one of the premiere independent bookselling institutions in the United States. In 2019, Literati won Bookstore of the Year, with a loyal customer base both in Michigan and across the country.

HISTORY:

Literati opened in March 2013 as an independent, general interest bookstore with a brick and mortar presence in Ann Arbor. Literati opened in the hopes of enhancing the vibrant downtown culture and arts scene. Its original aim was to be a lively bookstore--a welcoming place where book lovers could go, talk, and interact with each other through author readings, book clubs, poetry nights, and more. Above all, Literati believes that the right book can change a person's life for the better.

OUR BOOKSTORE:

Our staff hails from the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan and southeast Michigan area; many have extensive bookselling experience. Out of 700+ applicants, we carefully selected the most passionate and experienced booksellers--people with previous bookselling experience at Borders, Shaman Drum, other independent bookstores, publishers, or who are engaged and involved within the literary community. We have collaborated with area businesses and organizations, including the University of Michigan, the Zell Visiting Writers Series, the Midwest Literary Walk in Chelsea, 826michigan, Spencer Restaurant, Argus Farm Stop, the Neutral Zone, the Main Street Area Association, local authors, publishers, bookstores across the country, and many more. 

We stongly believe that, contrary to popular belief, we are not hurtling towards a digital, machine-operated future where an Amazon algorithm decides your reading list. We believe in the whimsy an independent bookstore provides. We believe an independent bookstore is one of the few places people can actually surprise themselves and discover something completely unexpected: A new voice, world, or idea. We believe that bookstores like ours are crucial to support and foster new, important, and marginalized voices. We believe that bookstores can be vital community spaces. And we believe in the curation and expertise of our staff to provide recommendations for the books we believe can change lives for the better.

We are thrilled to be your independent general bookstore.
 


 

Hello! We are Mike Gustafson and Hilary Gustafson, proud owners, founders, and booksellers of Literati. As book lovers who grew up and lived in Michigan throughout our lives, we have fond memories of childhoods filled with books. Curling up late at night. Long, sunny afternoons, beachside along one of the Great Lakes, reading until the sun went down.

When we heard about Borders closing shop nationally back in 2011, our immediate reaction was, “What about downtown Ann Arbor?” We grew up in Michigan. We have family in Ann Arbor and throughout the state. We couldn’t stomach one of the most literate, creative cities in the nation (the world?) without a downtown general bookstore to share ideas, discuss books, and meet authors. While Ann Arbor did have great niche and used bookstores downtown, we felt that not having a general interest bookstore in the walkable downtown area was a great disservice to the community.

So, we decided to move from Brooklyn to Ann Arbor and back home to Michigan to begin Literati Bookstore. To show that independent bookstores thrive in communities that value the written word. To show that bookstores could thrive in vibrant downtowns like Ann Arbor. To support local authors, artists, readers, writers, kids, adults, and anyone else who loves books as much as we do.

After opening in 2013, we're nine (!) years in. We have survived a flood, a pandemic, and the swarm of cicadas of last summer. We're excited to continue to grow with Ann Arbor, and build a quirky, fun, and hip general bookstore, with book clubs, subscription clubs, author events, panels, discussions, storytimes... You name it, we want to do it. And we're growing. Our events program, both in-person and online, attracts some of the most renown authors in the world. We were named the 2019 PW Bookstore of the Year. NBC Nightly News and NPR's All Things Considered have featured our bookstore's story. We are involved within our industry, serving on the board of the Independent Booksellers Consortium (IBC) as well as actively participating in numerous panels and task forces for the American Booksellers Association. Michael is also on the board of the Library of Michigan Foundation. Meanwhile, our store continues to fight back to normalcy, despite recent struggles with the pandemic. And we are proud to not only serve our region, but book lovers across the United States with ship-to-home options and book subscriptions available. 

Our goal is to be here for 30 years and beyond. So far, we've had incredible support in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Michigan, the publishing and book world, and the entire country. If you'd like to know more, here are a few articles about Literati. ®

Thank you for your reading, for continuing to read on, and we hope to see you soon.

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