Western New York’s destination bookstore
How a local author built her dream
Set against a backdrop of small-town Western New York, a Medina bookstore- turned-local-hotspot provides a literary respite for readers of every ilk. Now under new ownership, the recently renovated Author’s Note offers subtle charm and modern style paired with a decades-long history as a community institution.
Walking in from a bustling Main Street, customers are greeted with the distinct aroma of freshly brewed coffee (currently featuring Jamaican Me Crazy), a cozy loveseat with a name (“Lulu”), and countless displays showcasing a wide variety of books and literature-themed novelty items (like the wildly popular literary-themed lip gloss). Nearby, freestanding wooden shelves exhibit neatly arranged candles, jigsaw puzzles, and board games.
When New York Times best-selling children’s and young adult fiction author Julie Berry purchased Author’s Note (formerly known as the Book Shoppe) from previous owners Gloria and Frederick Fierch in February 2021, she had no idea how quickly—and fully—the town would embrace her dream.
Berry, who grew up in Medina before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a writer, always hoped to own a bookstore one day. After all, bookstores have always been like best friends for the author, who has published more than twenty-five books to date, so when the opportunity arose, Berry—and her husband, Phil— couldn’t pass it up.
“We knew that Medina would welcome us, that it had a lot of town spirit, that it was a warm and friendly community that looked out for one another…but I don’t think I could have imagined the tidal wave of support [for the soft opening]. I didn’t expect much. We had no publicity. And at ten a.m. people were lined up at the door. We were like…what?”
And in the months since, community sup- port has continued to grow.
“This is the story of Medina linking elbows,” says Berry.
In collaboration with the town’s robust business district, Author’s Note regularly hosts events that integrate the bookstore with other local organizations. Wine tastings, author visits, and storytelling hours frequently appear on Author’s Note’s social calendar and for Berry, this is only the beginning. “I want to hold writing workshops for aspiring writers and panels with agents so that people can ask their questions. I really look forward to doing more to utilize my connec- tions to the publishing industry and to other authors in the area.”
Berry, who—years after her undergraduate studies—earned an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, had never met another author until she got to college. For this reason, she had always considered being a full-time writer a pipe dream.
“I was that kid who was always reading in the car, reading on the bus, sneaking a book under the lid of the desk at school,” says Berry. “So, that was me, and—I think like a lot of us—I had some interest in being an author, one of those little secret dreams, but I didn’t take it all that seriously, because…who does that?”
For Author’s Note’s success, Berry credits her small but dedicated staff, including store manager Erica Caldwell, who is also Berry’s cousin and another industry veteran. Prior to working at Author’s Note, Caldwell owned a bookstore called Present Tense, located in Brockport.
“[Caldwell] came on board and immediately took over the ordering and the buying. She has really made it so fresh and relevant—a nice mix of new releases and best-sellers but also interesting books—some about nature, others about local history. She really knows what people want, so that’s been a real blessing,” says Berry. Author’s Note has not only been able to remain afloat amidst a global pandemic by implementing safety precautions, but it has even begun to thrive.
Longtime Medina resident Katie Oakes—who is visiting the store for the fourth time in as many days—credits Author’s Note with making a small town feel metropolitan…in a good way.
“It’s just nice to have a place where I can buy gifts for family and friends and know that I’m supporting somebody who actually lives down the street from me. And the ambiance in here… it feels like a big city quirky bookstore, but it’s right here in my hometown. We just love it.” With clear eyes and a warm smile, the always-on-the-go Berry looks to the months (and years) ahead with a mixture of excitement and cautious pride.
“My vision has always been to be a destination bookstore for Western New York,” says Berry.
“We are so thrilled by the response we have received [from the Medina community], and yet we still feel like we have only just begun…” To get in touch with Author’s Note, check them out on social media—Twitter @authorsnoteshop, Instagram @authorsnotebookstore, Facebook (Author’s Note), or online at authorsnote.com.