For our next installment of 7 Questions for a Bookseller, we have branched out of the City of Angels and interviewed Marlene England, the co-owner of the Curious Iguana bookstore in downtown Frederick, Maryland. Independent bookstores are thriving in the U.S., especially those with clear community outreach programs and missions. The Curious Iguana’s mission is “Get to know your world,” and the little bookstore has firmly established itself as an institution in the busy downtown area. Michelle Brafman, author of Washing the Dead and Bertrand Court, visited the Curious Iguana for their Sunday Shorts event and absolutely loved it, so of course we had to check back in with our friends in Maryland. We talked to Marlene England, co-owner of the Curious Iguana, and she generously agreed to answer our questions.
1. What inspired you to name the bookstore, “Curious Iguana”?
My husband and I also own an independent toy store (Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts) in downtown Frederick, so we wanted a bookstore name that was somewhat similar. We loved the word ‘curious’ – what could be better for a bookstore? – and then it became a matter of finding a unique animal name that wasn’t already in use by another business. ‘Iguana’ was the winner – and I love that the iguana art on our logo is in the shape of a question mark. It’s an unusual name, to be sure, but it works for us.
2. If you only had to describe your bookstore in three words, what would they be and why?
Well, ‘curious’ has to be one of the three…followed by ‘friendly’ and ‘globally focused.’ Compound words count as one, right?
3. What was the inspiration behind Curious Iguana’s motto: “Get to know your world”?
Books can be such powerful agents of change – they build empathy, increase awareness, expand our understanding of the people and places around us. ‘Get to know your world’ is our way of encouraging people to read beyond their borders, to discover new ideas, new stories, new ways of seeing and understanding this world we all share.
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