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Entertainment

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If you go
What: Hyde Brothers’ 20th anniversary party
Where: Hyde Brothers Books, 1428 N. Wells St.
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Sam Hyde, owner of Hyde Brothers Books, sorts through books a customer brought in with employee Julia Meek.

Books, beer, cat part of bookstore’s bash

Among the elixirs that will be offered at the Hyde Brothers 20th anniversary party is one so marvelous that it might just cause a newspaper reporter to “bury his lead.”

But maybe this particular reporter should be excused for failing to get right to the point when he is personally vouching for Dragon’s Milk Ale.

Hyde Brothers’ owner Sam Hyde says he and his staff went on a fact-finding mission to the Michigan craft brewer, New Holland Brewery, where Dragon’s Milk is made, some time ago.

Fact-finding missions to craft brewers often start with beer-drinking and end with forgetting most of the facts, and this one was no different. But nobody at Hyde Brothers forgot Dragon’s Milk.

Fittingly, Hyde uses a literary allusion to describe the ale, one involving George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (aka “Game of Thrones”).

“This is what they drink in those cold northern castles,” he says.

If you don’t like digressions, Hyde Brothers Books may not be the place for you.

The bookstore’s anniversary party, from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, is partly a celebration of two decades’ worth of digressions, non-sequitors, witty asides, abrupt shifts in tone, fact-finding missions and other sorts of spontaneous activities that tend to make used bookstores so savory and full-bodied.

Hyde, who was in restaurant management before becoming a book wrangler, says he and his brother Joel started Hyde Brothers because they were “really disgruntled with the working world.”

Both men are still selling books, at separate shops these days, but Hyde says the days of used bookstores are numbered.

“This is a big year for us,” he says. “I don’t anticipate that we’ll be celebrating a 30th.”

The Internet and digital reading devices have severely undercut the used book business, he says. But Hyde Brothers still has scads of loyal customers, many of whom undoubtedly believe that the word “book” and the phrase “Lithium-ion polymer battery” should never appear in the same sentence.

“Our customers have become our friends,” he says. “It’s not the same as selling meatballs.”

Hyde’s 175,000 volumes certainly facilitate a browsing experience that cannot be matched by any website or meatball eatery.

In honor of the anniversary, everything in the store will be 20 percent off today through Sunday, Hyde says.

“Everything but the cat,” Hyde says. “If you want a diabetic cat, that will be 50 percent off.”

Dragon’s Milk notwithstanding, the party on Sunday will be family-friendly, Hyde says, with cake, punch and apple juice.

Hyde says he has a three-year plan for retirement, but Hyde employee Sean Townsend says it existed three years ago and he suspects it will still exist three years from now.

Hyde says he would love to see some sort of socialist collective take over the store.

“They would all have to figure out a way to agree with each other,” he says. “I would appear as a figurehead. That’s my idea of retirement. I don’t want to sit on a porch and rock or go to Florida.”

“They wouldn’t need to pay me,” Hyde says. “They’d just have to let me sleep in the back room from time to time.”

If Hyde Brothers Books is amenable to socialism, it is also amenable to miracles.

Hyde recalls that one customer left his cane behind and never inquired after it.

Hyde doesn’t remember where in the store this happening occurred.

“Not in Religion,” he says. “That section does nobody any good whatsoever. Maybe it was occult.”

spen@jg.net

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