Up North Bookstores: McLean & Eakin Booksellers

McLean & Eakin Booksellers
307 E. Lake Street
Petoskey, MI 49770
[email protected]
McLean and Eakin BooksellersOwners: Jessilynn and Matt Norcross
9am – 8pm Mon-Sat
10am-5pm Sunday
A customer at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey once said that when the staff searches for a book for them it feels like it’s a life or death situation. The McLean and Eakin staff couldn’t agree more.
“We want so badly for our customers to get just what they are looking for,” explained owner Jessilynn Norcross who opened the independent store with husband Matt in 1992. She said they pride themselves on their staff recommendations as well. “Our customer service is our point of pride,” she added.
When McLean and Eakin opened their 5,000 sq. ft. store in downtown Petoskey, a picturesque town on the shore of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, they created a place where book lovers will find something for everyone.
Their staff is comprised of passionate readers who don’t limit themselves to any one genre, so when someone asks for help they are able to make a recommendation in just about any genre. “You would be hard pressed to find a bookseller on our staff who does not read nonfiction, fiction, teen and even kids books. Bottom line? We devour books!” said Norcross.
The staff not only loves books but believe that it is their customers that make it all worthwhile, especially those who walk through the door on a crummy day in April. “Those are the most die-hard bibliophiles we have ever seen,” said Norcross. “They will not let a basement full of snowmelt or a washed-out muddy road keep them from their books. It’s impressive.”
Like most bookstores June, July and August are peak months and McLean and Eakin hosts anywhere from 60-70 events, from in-store signings and kids’ parties to ticketed author luncheons and evening author receptions.
Three book clubs meet in the store, one of whom has been coming for 20 years. Over the years the booksellers have also hosted a variety of special events during the holidays, a spelling bee to alleviate cabin fever and pajama parties for the kids.  Sometimes they fall in love with a cookbook, and have a food tasting just because.
“Our customers never know what idea our staff might come up with next, keeping us a vibrant fun place to shop, as well as a cultural and community center for our downtown,” she said.
McLean and Eakin also feels that it is important to give back to the community. Since they began their 10% for Schools Program, they have been able to give back over $180,000 to schools and non-profits in their area.
They have been recognized for their hard work as past recipients of the Charles Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling, one of two national awards presented to independent booksellers in the United States, as well as the Pannell Award, which was created in 1983 to honor Lucile Micheels Pannell, an esteemed bookseller who managed the Hobby Horse Bookshop in Chicago’s Carson Pirie Scott department store from 1943 to 1953.
And how do they keep folks excited about books in an increasingly digital age? “We think it’s important to let people discover books in any way they choose,” said Norcross. So they work hard to maintain an enticing website, produce a weekly newsletter for some 5,000 subscribers and are active on social media.
There is also no bias toward any one format, so they offer digital audiobooks as well as eBooks. They are in the top 5 of indie stores in the nation in terms of volume of eBooks sold.
And if there was just one thing they wanted you to know about their bookstore it would be this that the employees at McLean and Eakin are a group of people who work hard every day to make sure that another generation of readers have a place to explore books,” said Norcross. “We are honored when customers choose to keep that exploration alive through us.”
Staff Picks for 2013
Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
The Son by Philipp Meyer
Detroit by Charlie LeDuff
To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
The Think That Matters by Charles Krauthammer
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye