Interview with Leah Koch from The Ripped Bodice

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?

Definitely the front window. I love designing our window displays, it has become such an area of pride for me and a place to express my creativity. 

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?

This is a great question I don’t think I’ve ever gotten before, and I took a stroll around the store to see what jumped out at me. 

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole is one of my favorites because the models are a real life couple and that’s such a fun tidbit to tell people

The penguin drop caps version of Pride and Prejudice is another, really any of the beautiful collectors editions of Austen.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?

New release would be The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. They are a married couple who write together and fun fact … they got engaged at our store! The book is very meta in that it is also about writing partners but they haven’t figured out the romance part yet like Emily and Austin have.

Backlist, I’ll go with An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole which is such an extraordinary (heh) example of what a historical romance novel can achieve.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?

How much time do you have!? People are weird! Guy who wanted us to display his collection of ceramic frogs is definitely a favorite. Not sell them, just display them so people could look at them!

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?

I was very starstruck by Deborah Harkness! She is also a professor and makes you just want to impress her so she gives you a good grade!

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?

That it’s all cutesy and twee and basically one long scene from You’ve Got Mail when it’s much more unpacking boxes and managing inventory and emailing with vendors.

Or, if you’ve watched You, that you’re a serial killer and storing victims in the stock room. 

Also that you have a lot of time to read. We have less time to read!

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?

Least favorite is probably cleaning the bathroom? People like some pretty weird stuff in there (dentures for example).

My favorite part is getting to know people in the neighborhood and literally seeing their lives change and grow. Seeing babies grow up, the excitement of a new dog, hearing about a promising date and then meeting a new partner if the date goes well. It’s so fun to be a part of people’s lives.

Leah Koch is a co-owner of The Ripped Bodice in Culver City, California.