Farmington resident Michael Cojocari’s love of independent bookstores prompted him to combine his interest in books and photography to create a blog.
FARMINGTON – About 10 years ago, Farmington resident Michael Cojocari was visiting his wife, Tina, at a local hospital.
He said she had been in the hospital for about a month at the time with pancreatitis.
The couple have an interest in visiting independent bookstores, and in their conversation during his visit, they discussed planning ‘little trips’ to pursue their hobby after his release.
One of Michael’s other hobbies is taking pictures, which he says he has done since he was young.
When he started to think about these two interests, an idea germinated.
“Why don’t I create a blog?” said Cojocari.
Cojocari’s vision for the blog was to take photos at independent bookstores and interview owners to gain insight and context.
He didn’t immediately act on the idea, as it wasn’t implemented until about three years ago.
Since then, he estimates he’s “hit” between 10 and 15 bookstores in Michigan, including the Detroit metro area.
Cojocari said he also went to a bookstore in Kansas and another in Philadelphia when he was in those areas for visits.
Tina was okay with Michael’s idea, and sometimes she goes along with it.
“Mike is a hobby photographer, and he loves books, so when I was in the hospital, we started talking about the bookstores we wanted to go to, independent bookstores, rather than the big box bookstores, which we wanted to support,” she said. “It was just a natural combination for him, so I came to carry his bags, interfere and creatively support him.”
Cojocari does not derive any income from its blog.
“It started as a side project, something that keeps me creative; plus, we’re very, very addicted to bookstores,” he said. inside, the way they smell.”
Tina is on the same page as her husband.
“I love soaking up the atmosphere of the bookstore and seeing what speaks to me,” she said.
The love that the couple, who have two dogs and three cats, have for bookstores is strong enough that a certain discipline is essential when venturing there.
“We made rules,” Michael said. “We can’t buy as many books as we always want to buy when we go to these bookstores because we end up with more books than we have space.”
Tina is well aware of the rule about limiting the number of books to buy.
“I love going to bookstores,” she said. “(My) favorite part is when he looks at me and says, ‘How many did we say we could have? We can only have two each, right? I say to myself: “But I need the five books.”
Along with the joy of discovering new books, going to “interesting” places gives 45-year-old Michael a chance to reminisce.
“It kinda reminds me of my childhood in those old bookstores, seeing the different types of flavors from the owners,” he said. “The owners are always characters, wherever we go, for the most part. And a lot of the bookstores we’ve been to have been around for 20 or 30 years, which we think is pretty incredible, given that Barnes & Nobles and Borders sort of blew most of them up in the 90s. So, it’s kind of like a little piece of history, I guess.
Michael and Tina have found a way to turn their love of bookstores into an adventure in more ways than one.
“We love books and being able to go out (and) drive an hour or two to see a bookstore,” Michael said. “It’s fun for us to do that — kind of like a field trip. Sometimes we go there for a vacation, a weekend, just to go see a bookstore and then see the surroundings. It takes us to cities we’ve never been before.
Cojocari said his blog was “low key” and he was content to keep it that way.
“I don’t get many visitors, to be perfectly honest,” he said. “It’s just more or less something I do for fun. By trade, I’m a computer software developer, so it’s fun to have a hobby that isn’t specifically involved in software development. software.
When Cojocari approaches bookstore owners and explains what it does, reactions may vary.
“I’ve had very good experiences with almost every (proprietary) bookstore I’ve dealt with,” he said. “A few of them were surprised, maybe a little suspicious, but when a stranger comes in and says, ‘Hey, I’d like to photograph your bookstore’, they’re like, ‘Oh, okay. Sure.’ Some of the owners I spoke to were really welcoming.”
In addition to being welcoming, some are delighted that their bookstore is presented on the Cojocari blog.
“They got distraught just trying to talk to me and show me things,” he said. “It’s really exciting to feel that kind of energy. I make sure to point out that I get about five views a year on my website and they are always happy to talk about their bookstore. It’s contagious; it makes us so happy to do this.
Cojocari, who attended Pontiac Notre Dame Preparatory High School before earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science from Oakland University, explained the process of finding bookstores to blog about.
“My basic workflow is to find a bookstore on Google Maps or just seeing it, go talk to the owner (and) make sure they’re okay,” he said. “I will take all the pictures. I’ll talk to the owner. I’ll take notes – just general observations or feelings I have when I’m in the bookstore. And then during the week, I’m going to write a few paragraphs, go through the photos, find the ones I like the most, and maybe do some editing. …And then I will publish them.
Cojocari estimated that he only spent about $100 every two years to maintain his website.
Considering everything he got out of it, it’s money well spent.
“It makes me very happy,” Cojocari said. “It has been very rewarding. I met a lot of really cool people, saw a lot of cool places (and) bought a lot of great books. All in all, it was great fun and very enjoyable.
Cojocari said he was open to suggestions of bookstores to visit. Anyone wishing to donate can email [email protected]
To view Cojocari’s blog, visit indiebooksofdetroit.com.