'Last Unicorn' author will help rechristen Dormont bookstore
Chris Rickert grew tired of explaining who the “Eljay” was in Eljay's Books, after the co-owners who gave the Dormont shop its name retired last summer.
She happened to work for author Peter S. Beagle, directing sales for his publisher and helping to coordinate events related to his 1968 novel “The Last Unicorn” and its film adaptation.
When Rickert became sole owner of the West Liberty Avenue shop, she figured the award-winning fantasy author might lend her a hand.
Beagle loved the idea. “So I get to be the store's official patron saint and traveling carnival barker, and anything else we can think of. It's going to be great fun,” he said.
The name Rickert & Beagle Books has been on the bookshop's online outlets, receipts and some merchandise since October, and Beagle will arrive in Dormont on Friday for the official sign changing and a grand opening of the rechristened shop from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
He will visit the SouthSide Works Cinemas for a special noon Saturday screening of the digitally remastered “The Last Unicorn.”
While Beagle, who lives in Oakland, Calif., has no financial stake in the bookstore, he lends it his name, support and presence at special events when he visits the area. A section of the shop is devoted to autographed copies of his books, and merchandise tied to “The Last Unicorn” and his other works.
Beagle, a University of Pittsburgh graduate, said he believes it's rare for writers to officially put their names on bookstores, although Parnassus Books in Nashville is co-owned by author Ann Patchett and publisher Karen Hayes, and “Lonesome Dove” author Larry McMurtry owns Booked Up in Archer City, Texas.
Beagle said she'll use contacts with other authors to promote the business, which he said will be “the kind of bookstore that writers all secretly dream of hanging out in.”
The store hosts a twice-monthly Write or Die critique group for local science fiction writers, which is affiliated with the sci-fi club PARSEC.
Rickert was a manager for Joseph Beth Booksellers until the company sought bankruptcy protection and closed its store in the SouthSide Works. Meanwhile, Frank “Jason” Oreto and Louise Richardson were moving Eljay's from Carson Street to Dormont, and they took Rickert on as a co-owner in 2010. Both the original owners retired from the bookshop in September.
Rickert had been a fan of Beagle's work since she saw the animated adaptation of “The Last Unicorn” at 8. When Beagle came to Pittsburgh once for a convention, but lacked enough copies of his books, he called Joseph Beth to arrange to get some books in exchange for a book signing event at the store.
Rickert said she volunteered to help coordinate his “Last Unicorn” tour, and their daily contact led to the partnership in the store.
Rickert said she's putting her touch on the store's organization and decor, but Eljay's discounts for wearing store-branded T-shirts will continue and she'll honor the old store's gift certificates and store credits.
“I don't want to reinvent the store,” she said. “But there are a lot more unicorns, now.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Online sales, promotions give Pittsburgh-area stores global reach
- Young Achiever: Samuel J. Miller Jr.
- ACEing Autism introduces those with special needs to tennis in Pittsburgh area
- Dormont’s Sugarplum House Tour spotlights 100- to 120-year-old homes
- Tutoring program pays dividends for elementary students across Southwestern Pa.
- W. Pa. neighborhood watch groups work with police to keep streets safe