New Story Community Books put “community” in the name because owners Tom and Kimberly Batterson are determined to connect. 


It may be to connect people to books, to fandoms or to each other. 


The store is based in Marshall but pops up in surprising places. The grown-up book fair at Territorial Brewing, for instance. Like the school book fairs many remember as kids, the books are to encourage adults to start reading again. And yes, even Ninja Turtle Cookbooks count. 


“The idea is to remind people that reading can be a joy,” Tom says. “And trying to get books into people’s hands so they can start reading, because adults modeling the behavior is how we help fix children’s literacy issues. Once children see that adults read, they are more likely to pick it up and want to read.” 


Kimberly works at a local elementary school, so children’s literacy is a topic close to her heart. She and Tom have been underwriting free books for kids, as well as educator discounts at their store. 


The flagship store is on Marshall’s main street. The bookshelves are full of good reads, curated by staff. An internet algorithm can only give you more of what you already have, but walking into a bookstore is about discoverability. 


“Our booksellers are an invaluable resource in helping pair people with things that are like what they already know they like or are looking for something new,” Kimberly says.  


If you’re looking to give a book gift but don’t know where to start, try the book bundle service: fill out a survey about what the person likes (or fill it out for yourself) and receive a stack of wrapped books based around those interests. 


“I often tell staff, when we’re talking about books we want to order, we want to find stuff that you’re not going to discover in the book aisle at Target,” Tom says. “The idea is that it’s unique and different. We purposely spend a lot of time and energy in making sure we have a different stock in. And we carry some of the same mainstream books, that’s just a given.” 


Among the books, you’ll find all things that celebrate reading. Maybe it’s a Harry Potter keychain or a Jane Austen plant. 


All of the succulent plants for sale at New Story are straight from the Batterson’s sunroom at home. Tom says he’s a fan, because succulents are an antisocial plant. They don’t need much attention. 


New Story is a cozy shop among downtown Marshall’s businesses and restaurants, which Tom calls “cute.” 


“So downtown Marshall is – as Kimberly says -- it's like out of a Hallmark movie,” Tom said. “Whether it's Christmas, whether it's Halloween, whether it's summer, there's always some small or large things that will come.” 


There’s a movie theater, a bakery, lots of little shops in one place and easy parking. 


But New Story is already working on expanding into Battle Creek, next door to Marshall. You can find shelves of books at Bread & Basket, a marketplace in downtown Battle Creek that offers a lot of self-care and body products. 


A popular collaboration between the two has been the Bathtub Books. Look for the books wrapped in brown paper, with a description on the outside -- no judging these books by the cover. 

The books are $5 each, so it’s no big deal if you want to read it in the bathtub but it slips out of your fingers because you’ve used too much of the nice soaps and lotions that are for sale at Bread & Basket.