By Beth Pearson
Danny Caine is the new owner of the Raven Bookstore, located in Lawrence, Kansas. The Raven Bookstore is an independent bookstore that not only promotes indie books, authors, and publishing companies, but also works to establish connections with its local community. Danny went to college in Wooster, Ohio, graduating with an MFA in poetry, and recently bought the Raven Bookstore from the previous owner, Heidi Raak.
Dzanc: When did your interest in books start, particularly independent books?
Danny: Very early. I devoured books of all kinds throughout my childhood. A used bookstore called Books In Stock became the place where I felt most at home in college
Dzanc: What made you want to run your own bookstore?
Danny: The previous owner, Heidi Raak, started discussing selling the bookstore a while ago. I researched the store, and everything I found told me it was a no-brainer. It’s beloved in the community, it’s been around for thirty years, it’s well-curated, and the two store cats were included in the deal.
Dzanc: What do you hope customers get out of coming into your bookstore?
Danny: Primarily, I hope the bookstore is a comfortable and safe place to be. Aside from that, I hope my customers know that they'll find a thoughtful selection of books and that shopping at the Raven supports a business that cares deeply about the Lawrence and Eastern Kansas community.
Dzanc: Why is it important for book lovers to continue to support independent bookstores?
Danny: A good independent bookstore encourages diversity, the exchange of ideas, and the value of reading. Independent bookstores give back to their home communities in ways that online or chain retailers simply cannot match. At their best, indies are community hubs that are so much more than simply places to buy books—they can be magnets for culture and activism. However, if people don't support indie bookstores with their wallets, it's hard for indie bookstores to support their communities in these vital ways.
Dzanc: What is your favorite indie book currently on your shelves?
Danny: I adored The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami. She's very popular in Japan but she's just beginning to break out in the States. The book is a delightful story about the charm of a small store and the people who work there, so it works well in an indie setting. It's also an off-kilter love story that works in unconventional ways. I'm excited about some upcoming releases that I'm sure will do well at the Raven, like Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. Of course, I read an advance reader copy of Dzanc's This Book Is Not For You by Daniel A. Hoyt, and I loved it (and not just because of its Lawrence setting).
Dzanc: Are there any upcoming books or events that you’d would like to promote?
Danny: The Raven is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary with a series of events in early September, including Alissa Nutting reading from her new novel Made for Love on Saturday, September 9. Kij Johnson will launching her new book The River Bank on Tuesday, September 12. Lawrence Public Library is bringing George Saunders to town on October 10 and the Raven is thrilled to be running the book table for such a great author. We're also working with Daniel A. Hoyt on some exciting plans for a Lawrence reading of This Book is Not For You.
Dzanc Books would like to thank Danny Caine for a generous interview. If you would like to support The Raven Bookstore, you can find them at 6 E. 7th St. Lawrence, KS 66044, or ravenbookstore.com. (785)-749-3300.