Surviving independent bookstores in Cleveland

No less than the rest of the county, Cleveland suffered the loss of favorite brick-and-mortar bookshops since the publishing world got hit by the Perfect Storm (don't forget, a book title) of recession, paperless "new media" and online-megastore book dealers. Gone but not forgotten are such bibliophile havens as downtown's Publix Book Mart, Kay's, Keisogloff's, the ubiquitous Burrows Books chain, Booksellers on Chagrin Boulevard, Visible Voice in Tremont, and local outposts of Joseph-Beth, B.Dalton, Waldenbooks, Joseph-Beth and, of course, Borders.

It's hard to imagine especially a reading world with the absence of Borders. Around the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals campus, there are a number of surgeons and MDs who just stand around depressed, disconsolate, at the closure of that mighty chain. We call them Doctors Without Borders. Rimshot!

Forgive that preceding paragraph; it was written by a slightly demented, starving author. Just know that northeast Ohio chapters of Half-Price Books and Barnes & Noble still persevere, and long life to them.

But all the more reason to treasure those remaining, independently run, mom-and-pop-managed bookshops. Here are five that are especially worth bookmarking.

1. Loganberry Books
13015 Larchmere Boulevard, Cleveland

Harriet Logan's palace of literature has been called the most visually striking bookstore in Cleveland. Carpeted with gorgeous oriental rugs, in a section of town heavy with upscale antiques stores, Loganberry Books features a full range of new and old fiction and nonfiction, special-interest shelves, and a particularly good stock of books for children (both modern and vintage/reprints). Every summer during the annual Larchmere neighborhood festival, resident writers and their work can be found in their Author Alley. Say hello to the bookstore cat. They also do rebinding and repairs and book searches and valuations. Call (216) 795-9800.

2. Mac's Backs
1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Hts.

A Cleveland literary landmark and cultural anchor of the student-frequented Coventry neighborhood, Macs Backs was actually a spinoff of a small used-paperback exchange run by James McSherry in a little alley in Chagrin Falls. The larger Coventry Road location, opened in 1982, very quickly drew the likes of graphic-novelist Harvey Pekar, poet Daniel Thompson, and many local and visiting novelists, essayists, filmmakers and musicians. Now it houses countless pages of used/new treasures. Monthly poetry readings have been standard since 1984. The place now occupies three floors; note the upstairs SF/fantasy sanctum. Ask co-owner Suzanne DeGaetano to tell you her Harlan Ellison story. Call (216) 321-2665.

3. Horizontal Books
1921 W.25th St., Cleveland

This same address was previously tenanted by Six Steps Down and The Bookstore on 25th Street, both used-book dealers. Now everything is brand new, but with a terrific abridgment for sticker shock. Good things come in threes at Horizontal Books, with a bulk-buy offer that, as Mario Puzo's bestselling antihero in The Godfather put it, you cannot refuse. There is a full stock of new books here; if purchased singly, all titles are 50 % off. Two books are 60% off. Three take you to 70%. If the amenities are somewhat Spartan, the high selection and low prices compensate. Phone (216) 298-4411.

4. Appletree Books
12419 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts.

An independent bookstore celebrating 40 years in the business, Appletree Books must be doing something right. The place is located in a venerable old neighborhood that Cleveland readers might recognize as the home of local mystery writer Les Roberts' fictional shamus Milan Jacovich. At Appletree there is a fine stock of discounted hardcover fiction, as well as shelves devoted extensively to science and psychology. Appletree also carries lines of indie paper-artist greeting cards from all over. Phone (216)791-2665.

5. Books, Nooks & Nibbles
8047 Broadview Rd., Broadview Hts.

Yes, even in the era of Great Recession, new bookshops continue to be opened by brave, indie entrepreneurs. The latest is this cozy spot in the suburbs, where a selection of upscale and nearly-new titles share retail space with gourmet teas and coffees, soaps, ethnic ornaments and greeting cards. In-store author appearances have been a regular thing nearly every month since Books, Nooks & Nibbles opened. Phone (440) 823-6696.

Charles Cassady Jr. is the half-demented, starving author of Cleveland Ghosts, Paranormal Great Lakes, Paranormal Mississippi River, Great Lakes Folklore, and others.