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Donna Frey (left) and Nikki Snyder inside Shelf Indulgence, their new North Trail bookstore and café

When Nikki Snyder was little, she wanted to be a librarian, but when she found out that involved dealing with information technology and not just talking about books all day, her dream shifted. Last Wednesday, she and her mother, Donna Frey, opened the doors to Shelf Indulgence, a new used bookstore on the North Trail, right across U.S. 41 from Ringling College of Art and Design, in the space that once housed Big E's and until recently housed World Bites Kafe.

The small space has been completely redone, with tall shelves housing fiction and nonfiction along the walls, a corner lined with kids' and young adults' books and a shorter shelf with Snyder's prized pick of sci-fi and fantasy tomes. A small table and a smattering of chairs offer spots to rest; high chairs run along a bar that provides views out the big front windows.

But. "It's difficult to make it selling books alone," Frey points out, which is why there's a counter and prep area, too. Shelf Indulgence serves a select pick of sandwiches, salads and pastries baked every morning, as well as that old book accompaniment standby: coffee, made from beans roasted by Sarasota's Latitude 23.5° Coffee & Tea. (There's tea, too.) The shop also sells book-related curios and other design objects. The space is lovely, perfect for a solo read in a comfy chair or as a spot to meet a friend for a cup.

Snyder and Frey spent a year building their initial book inventory, accepting donations and hitting up estate and library sales. The books may be used, but they're in terrific shape, and the shop is well-organized and easy to browse. In five minutes, I land on a handsome hardcover edition of The Day of the Jackal for a mere $8. Ring it up. I often wonder what I enjoy more: reading books or browsing indie bookstores. Thanks to places like Shelf Indulgence, I don't have to pick. In one place, I can do both.

Shelf Indulgence is located at 2805 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more info, call (941) 260-5326 or find the store on Facebook.

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