Open Book Exchange

Here we grow again! We are pleased to announce that our Little Free Libraries project — dubbed the Open Book Exchange — continues to expand this month with a foray into Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

What exactly is the Open Book Exchange? Well, it’s one of the projects we are most excited about here at Bluebird Books. We build colorful handmade Book Boxes (using reclaimed materials whenever possible), fill them with donated books, and install them in public places throughout the Tampa Bay area. Passersby are encouraged to take a book, or leave a book, in free literary trade. It’s that simple!

The Book Box in Seminole Heights (our fourth installation in a year) will be dedicated on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 with a casual community event beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m. Come out and donate books, or find some to take home, and help us celebrate tangible literary treasures. Look for us near E. Frierson Ave. and 12th Street, across from Giddens Park.

OBE-1 (2)



Lit Life

We have lots to be proud of at Bluebird Books — it’s been another great year of spreading literary love.

Since September 2012, we’ve installed three Open Book Exchange book boxes throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, with more on the way. We hosted a very successful fundraiser at Tempus Projects, and planted the seeds for our Artists Resource Library soon to come … all the while showcasing curated collections and giving books away at special events and venues such as The Dali Museum and the St. Pete Indie Market.

Today, we gather with friends and supporters to celebrate diversity and creativity in our second parade appearance at St. Pete Pride. Look for us in the big blue bus, with a special appearance by Dolores the Art Car, in a cloud of confetti and smiles.

Thank you for helping share our love of books as artful treasures, year round. Keep reading!

See you on the road.

Summer of Love

Whoa. Wow. This ‘Bird is still catching her breath!

You small but dedicated band of followers may have thought we had disappeared entirely from the blogosphere, but that is not the case. The gang at Bluebird Books have just had a much, much busier summer than ever expected!

What was supposed to be a period of repose, reflection and planning during the Florida summer months became a hotbed of activity (pun intended post-June, when our air conditioner died) as we received multiple event invitations that were just too delicious to turn down.

Before we launch into an even busier autumn, it’s time to pause a moment, to look back, and to thank the many talented people who have helped us along the way. Here is a story in images: the story of our incredible Bluebird summer.


The Captive Poet Project

Here at Bluebird, we’re all about taking words to the street. That’s why we have wheels.

This is not a taco truck. But you can order a haiku, through the latest incarnation of our literary outreach: The Captive Poet Project.

At select Bluebird Books events – starting tonight – one of our Captive Poets will create an original, experimental haiku poem (up to five lines long) for you to take home.

Our Poets work on a typewriter before your very eyes, and each poem is custom made to order. We only ask for a $2 minimum donation. It helps us keep the Poets fed and watered (and of course, a little gas money never hurts).

During future events, you can get hands-on and write your own to add to our Pocket Book, a teeny ‘zine due out next fall.

Meanwhile, meet the Captive Poets – practitioners and students of poetry, and volunteers from local groups such as the IV Poets – and learn about English-language variants of the Japanese haiku form.

See you on the Bus!

captive poet

Talk Pretty: Sedaris Coming to Tampa Theatre

With a favored spot on my personal library shelf for years, David Sedaris brings biting wit to bear on the human experience through his stories and personal essays.

He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, NPR and This American Life — where I recommend you go take a listen, for a hint at what’s in store when he comes to read at our historic Tampa Theatre, Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.

That’s right people: If you haven’t already heard, David Sedaris is coming to town.


Inspirations: The Sign of the Centaur

“The proprietor [of the Centaur Book Shop], Harold Mason, was a 29-year-old of independent means who was fascinated by books, particularly first editions by liberal intellectuals. His bookshop was a small, comfortable room in a 300-year-old house outfitted with bookshelves, wicker chairs, candlesticks, Japanese prints and a fireplace. Here one could find first editions of avant-garde books and current issues of the intellectual magazines of the day …

The bookshop’s name was taken from a line in the banned book Jurgen, by James Branch Cabell: ‘Up on my back,’ said the Centaur, ‘and I will take you thither.’ The association with Jurgen ‘lent a mild wickedness to the enterprise,’ Mason recalled. When importation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, considered at the time to be as sinful as booze, was prohibited, Mason arranged for a shipment of a case of books, after the spines had been replaced with those of another book of the same size.

From the Bluebird Collection: Poster by Andy Beach for ICA, Centaur block print by Wendy and Marvin Hill.

From the Bluebird Collection:
Poster by Andy Beach for ICA, Centaur block print by Wendy and Marvin Hill.

A room over the shop became an after-hours gathering place for select patrons, artists, people of letters, and other friends. It was, like a Greenwich Village salon, bohemian and arty. This was during Prohibition, and ‘in’ members had their own liquor lockers and keys to the room. The outgoing Wharton [Esherick] was quickly inducted into the club, and he made a sign to hang over the door, a modernist centaur of wood and bent iron straps (the ‘sign of the Centaur’).”

— From Wharton Esherick: Journey of a Creative Mind, by Mansfield Bascom, Abrams, 2010, reproduced in a pamphlet from the Excursus I: Reference Library at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Philadelphia

Bluebird Undercover

At Bluebird, we’ve always got our face in a book. Get your own nose between the covers and show the world that you love reading too.

Bluebird Undercover is a photo project for bookworms, inspired by our upcoming participation in a PYT benefit for the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. (And frankly, it was also kind of inspired by Sleeveface. Because we love Sleeveface.)

So here’s how it works: You can get a custom image made by Sasha Rae Photo at select Bluebird Books events beginning February 9 at Mermaid Tavern. You can also post your own Undercover photo to our Flickr Group page.

Either way gives you a chance to show off that literary love in print: In April, the top 20 Bluebird Undercover photos will be used to create a cool full-color 2012 commemorative tour poster that will be featured year-round on the bus.

Visit our Tour Page to see where we’re heading next, and check out the Sasha Rae Photobooth to learn more.

Cool? Now go get yourself Undercover.

Annotations (no. 4)

“If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.”

(Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984)

Bluebird Books: January Update

It’s been a busy month behind-the-scenes at Bluebird Books!

While the fine folks at Peterson Auto tuned up the bus, we were hard at work putting the finishing touches on Kickstarter rewards. And this weekend we added some real gems to our book inventory while supporting a great cause, by shopping at the WMNF Annual Book and Record Sale, where proceeds benefit our longstanding community radio station. We crammed in elbow-to-elbow with the throng of book-lovers, who lined up early for a chance to browse the stacks.


Happy Blue Year!

We’re starting 2012 on wings of joy. Our Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded, providing seed money to keep Bluebird Books rolling forward. We received some great accolades in the press, made our first appearance on the airwaves, and even got our first cover shot!

Looking ahead, we’re excited about planning some great cultural events this coming year. On the list: a book signing event featuring printed works by local artists, an artist sketchbook showcase, a special appearance at a wonderful Bay area gallery, and possibly even a museum event. Stay tuned.