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Commonplace Books is Rethinking the Bookstore for a New Generation

D Magazine
Caitlin Clark

As a Nora Ephron “stan” of a certain age, it’s impossible for me to hear the word “independent bookstore” and not think of ’90s-era Meg Ryan, holding a box of twinkle lights, giving one last wistful look at her surprisingly spacious Manhattan book shop before she shuts the doors forever, run out of business by You’ve Got Mail’s stand-in for Borders, Fox Books.

Of course, if that movie were made today (probably by Netflix), it would be Tom Hanks turning out his store’s lights, heading to his very nice houseboat with a box of generic-looking coffee mugs and ranting about Amazon on social media. (Hanks and Ryan would probably meet much less adorably on Reddit or something—let’s not think about it!) The Shop Around the Corner—with its family-owned charm, books with hand-tipped illustrations (that’s why they’re worth so much), and children’s story hours—would likely get to live on as an alternative to Amazon, not a competitor.

These are the kinds of things you think about (or I think about) when you see a shop like Commonplace Books, an Oklahoma City transplant that just opened its doors in Fort Worth’s WestBend development, and exudes community-focused connection, as well as Instagrammable charm. Commonplace joins a slew of local indie bookstores (The Wild DetectivesDeep Vellum, and Interabang), but like those seemingly thriving, cherished spaces, it has a personality all its own. We caught up with Ben Nockels, who founded Commonplace with friends and family, to learn more about the store…

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