KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Raven Book Store, an independent book store in Lawrence, has been named Publishers Weekly’s 2022 Bookstore of the Year.
Book stores from across the nation were considered, but this year’s honor lies in the heart of the Midwest.
The Raven, as regulars call it, started as a mystery book store in 1987. Facade markings now indicate selections including fiction, poetry, mystery, politics, history and children’s.
Mary Wahlmeier Bracciano, children’s manager at Raven Book Store, says she’s been with the store for four years. During her time as an employee, she’s seen the community support the principle of small business.
Following a co-op business model, the store’s majority owner controls 51% while seven booksellers make up the remaining 49%, each responsible for 7%.
Bracciano says this rare model helps create the opportunity for others with an affinity for the store to own a stake that’s not financially burdensome.
Even with neighboring chain book stores and the looming threat of Amazon, Bracciano says part of Raven Book Store’s charm and notoriety comes from the store’s openness about being politically active, advocating for employees to be treated well to further legitimize the sustainability of working in the book industry.
Still feeling “blown away” the Raven is being honored with such an award, Bracciano credits those whose loyalty has never waivered.
“We're so popular in this community because of the customers that started coming in the very beginning,” Bracciano said.
Raven Book Store is located at 809 Massachusetts. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 12-5 p.m.