9th & 9th Book & Music Gallery: The Bookstore in Your Bedroom
In the 9th & 9th Book & Music Gallery, Brandon A. Anderson, the business’ proprietor, and I listen to the new record from Trigger and Slips. Donning a black apron adorned with various pins, Anderson clues me in to the band’s local roots. His wiry, thick, salt-and-pepper biker beard jumps up and down from behind his glossy black face mask. Feeling like a cabin of treasures, the shop is littered with trinkets, posters and even some relics, such as a set of indigenous arrowheads. Decorated with hanging guitars, collectibles and stuffed with myriad books, 9th & 9th Book & Music boasts an impressive, eclectic collection in which some of the most interesting items are just for show (and you should see them!).
The shop’s inception is a story so serendipitous you could put a bow on it. Anderson had walked into the 9th & 9th Jewelers to get his wife’s ring reset. Upon seeing the empty space in the back, he said to Joe Maughan, the jeweler occupying the same space, “Hey, Joe, what if I put, like, a community gathering space, artspace … Basically like a used book and music store … Have concerts back there, free art classes?” Joe snapped his finger, pointed at Anderson and said, “Do that!”
From that point on, Anderson began trying to find ways to inexpensively build up the shop. He found an old fence from a neighbor that he repurposed, varnished and used to decorate and line the walls. As a starting point, he brought most of his own book collection to kickstart the shop’s inventory. By June 2020, amid a global pandemic, Anderson had fulfilled one of his dreams of opening a local bookstore.
“Hey, Joe, what if I put, like, a community gathering space, artspace … Basically like a used book and music store … Have concerts back there, free art classes?”
Within the store, Anderson shows me a modest collection of fine-press, leather-bound books with an impressive 22-karat gold gilding and delicate silk lined interior. “They have a high print run, so they generally don’t gain in value,” says Anderson. “But they’re built to last … You can build a little library for your children, your children’s children, your children’s children’s children.”
Although the store is filled with and focuses on rare items like this, there are still plenty of reading copies of books stacked throughout the shop, which also features inexpensive musical instruments and a free record section. Anything that’s not “highly-collectible” that remains on the shelves after 60 days goes into the small, free library out in the front of the store—a fine example of how the shop, in many respects, is for the community. Anderson wants the profits from the shop to fund arts classes and concerts and to go to the teachers who would be leading the classes. For now, 9th & 9th Book & Music is just trying to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anderson himself says he hasn’t taken a paycheck since his last job before the store opened. Every cent put into the store goes to simply keeping the lights on and the door open. He wants the store to be for everyone, but that requires the community to invest in the store. When probed about why people should go here instead of other local bookstores, Anderson says, “Absolutely go to those other places too,” and proceeds to recite all of the local shops and the names of people at those shops. Anderson is an ecstatic and caring personality, much more interested in investing in the community than remunerative gain—though he wouldn’t be opposed to it (who would?). He wants people around and away from him to thrive; he just wants to participate in that magnanimous process.
“You can build a little library for your children, your children’s children, your children’s children’s children.”
Eventually Anderson is seeking to do a guitar/banjo loan program, so that some people who can’t afford new, $500 instruments can learn and play, practically for free. But for now, it’s just about surviving. “I just hope to last long enough to see kids come home from school and they know they can stop at 9th & 9th to grab some free penny candies and a soda … and play guitar [here],” says Anderson.
Bookstores have a way of feeling vast no matter the size of the store. 9th & 9th Book & Music Gallery is no exception—you can peruse the shelves and while away the hours steeped in books you wouldn’t normally find elsewhere. You can flit through records, see and buy acoustic guitars, browse a case of shiny objects that feature an antique revolver sitting next to a jacket pin, featuring the highly likely-but-unproven-in-court-to-be-a-bad-person OJ Simpson. Need I say more?!
If you can’t make it down in person to keep with quarantine/social distancing, you can still find and buy items on their website: 9thand9thbookandmusic.com. You can also check out the shop on Instagram @9thand9thbookandmusic, but I definitely recommend a masked-up visit to this wonderful little place.