Cross-posted from Fimfiction
Lectern’s New and Used Books is presented as a general-use setting for Equestria Girls
fan fiction, especially slice-of-life stories rated for everyone or for teens. While there should be some particular reason for a story to take place in Lectern’s rather than in some other public setting (for example, the Sweet Shoppe), that is not a requirement. The descriptions below may be updated as needed.Lectern’s New and Used Books
A rebuilt bungalow, currently painted in a satin-finish white, houses both the bookstore and a small studio living space at the front of the second floor. This combined retail-residential use almost certainly wouldn’t be allowed today, but the original conversion dates back decades, when code and permit requirements were far less rigorous. City records of the time also include a most unusual, and somewhat mysterious, zoning exemption that remains in force so long as the building continues to serve as both business and
residence. Should the business go belly-up, or should the resident be forced to move out without someone else ready to move in immediately, the waiver would be revoked, with potentially drastic consequences.
At the time, the district was in decline, not yet revived to its current quaint charm, so the waiver may have been a way to ensure someone would be on the premises more or less continuously. Exactly why the original owner chose to open a bookstore in that neighborhood is open to question; certainly nobody in city hall today can remember the reasons. Lectern probably doesn’t know either, since he bought the property after the previous owner died a generation or more ago. A relative had moved in hastily to satisfy the terms of the zoning waiver, but had no desire to remain in the long term, so the family sold on very favorable terms.
Over the years since, a few mayors or city councils have mounted assaults on the building’s exceptional status, but so far all have been turned back by the solid and unequivocal terms of the exemption. Clearly the city, and possibly some other business owners in the neighborhood, would like nothing better than to do away with this bothersome square peg. Fortunately for it, the store currently is in sound financial shape, Lectern is in sound physical shape, and there’s no sign of either changing in the foreseeable future.The Building and Lot
The bungalow is built on a forty- by hundred-foot (twelve- by thirty-plus-meter) parcel located on the northwest corner of a four-way intersection in a renovated and gentrified low-rise business district. Colorful flower beds immediately surround the house, and a single mature oak tree, flanked by a couple of bushes, graces the front yard on the side away from the intersection. The rest of the front setback is landscaped with mulch and low-growing native plants. A sturdy wood sign board is posted transverse to be visible to oncoming foot and motor traffic; the lettering is raised from a rough-carved background and brightly painted. Directional lights on arms mounted to the sign’s underside provide nighttime illumination.
The back yard features a half-dozen shade trees, a small garage near the lot’s streetside back corner, and a raised terra-cotta-paved patio furnished with tables and chairs. Ground cover consists mostly of gravel for drainage around the house and garage and mulch elsewhere, since most plants would be shaded out by the trees and buildings. Concrete paths provide access, with a plank ramp leading down from the patio and a small plank “causeway” connecting the patio to the back door of the house.
The bungalow’s interior features a great deal of oak-varnished wood. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves hold the shop’s inventory. Wainscoting and crown molding set off otherwise bare walls and ceilings painted in light earth tones. The staircase is all wood. The check-out counter is a retired bar. The front sitting room is set up for patrons to sit and converse or read quietly, with a baker’s dozen overstuffed chairs, a few small round coffee tables, and pole lamps in three corners. Most of the furnishings, whether built-in or free-standing, were obtained piecemeal, often as architectural salvage, but reupholstering, revarnishing, and careful juxtaposition minimize the potential for clashing.
When Lectern purchased the building a generation ago, the movement to improve accessibility was beginning to gather momentum. Since the business, and the building, would be closed for renovation anyway, he took full advantage of low- and zero-interest government loans to install a LULA (limited-use limited-application) elevator in addition to the ramps. The demanding requirements of even a small elevator shaft and mechanism necessitated extending the building’s rear edge by six feet, by far the most expensive and extensive modification. The enlarged footprint, combined with the garage, exceeded forty percent lot coverage, which caused some legal wrangling that ended only when an accessibility advocacy group caught wind of the affair and brought the story to the local media. Interior
plan views are available for orientation, and have been updated extensively after consultation over architectural and zoning issues. NB: Since the scriptwriters are careful never to place the Equestria Girls
setting in any particular locale, it probably is wisest to do the same by avoiding detailed descriptions of exactly what the native flowers and other plants are, or exactly what roofing is used on the bungalow, since those can and do vary by region. Oak trees are widely distributed across the northern hemisphere, so that is reasonably safe, though even they come in a wide variety of shapes and species.The Business
Lectern indeed carries used books and offers a fairly generous trade-in policy, especially to those willing to accept store credit rather than cash, but from his point of view that mostly is a sideline—something that benefits the community, but doesn’t contribute much to his bottom line. The real source of his prosperity, aside from carrying a broad inventory of new books on a wide variety of subjects, is his connection to the networks of rare-book dealers and brokers. Other than unique or vanishingly rare specimens, such as one might find in museums or the most exclusive collections, if it is or ever has been in print, Lectern may be able to get it. Those
books reside in the locked and reinforced bookshelves behind the check-out counter while they await pick-up and payment. In addition, the building is equipped with a monitored alarm system.
The store’s hours run from nine in the morning (0900) to nine in the evening (2100) five days a week. Sunday and Monday it usually is closed, though there are occasional exceptions for various reasons, generally arranged in advance. Lectern himself runs the place during slack hours, and for busier times employs a never-ending parade of high-school and university students on a part-time basis, most of them for relatively short periods. He’s a fairly understanding boss, but only within reason—he’s perfectly willing to punt the occasional slacker or malcontent with a polite but clear lecture on exactly why he’s doing so.
He doesn’t leave the house often during business hours, and he rarely travels at any time. Once or twice a year he may close for a weekend or a week of vacation, usually to visit family. Often, but not always, this is during the holidays, though he also has hosted small parties for staff and some steady customers, notably when an unusual number of them lack nearby family for their own celebrations.Grimoire Lectern
Yes, Grimoire is his first name; no, he isn't particularly fond of it. To most people he’s “Mister Lectern”, and always has been. To acquaintances around his own advanced age he’s just “Lectern”. A few old cronies and close relatives are permitted to call him “Grim”, though his grandchildren can get away with “Grandpa Grim”.
A generation ago he was a recent widower whose grown children were starting families of their own. Rather than “rattle around like a pea in a box”, as he put it, he retired, sold his previous much-too-large home, and took up running, and living in, the bookstore that now bears his name. Though at first a distraction from an empty nest and bereavement, the shop and bungalow have grown important to him in their own right, and he genuinely enjoys this latest phase of his long and somewhat checkered life. He has no connection to Equestria, magic, or otherworldly doings.
His voice is a clear tenor, only a little creaky with age. He is well-spoken, with an educated and slightly archaic vocabulary, and is intelligent and observant. His interests and knowledge are broad, especially history and society. He firmly believes “this too shall pass” is the most universal aphorism—but “it’s more complicated than that” runs a close second.Personality
Lectern is one of nature’s gentlemen: good-humored, patient, and understated, treating others—regardless of age, sex, or lifestyle—politely and with respect. In return, he requires civility toward himself and everyone else in his vicinity, and is perfectly willing to speak up when necessary or even to eject truly recalcitrant individuals; he is quite serious about enforcing the shop’s placard stating “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. Should someone willfully push him past his fairly broad limits, his temper emerges in quiet, sharply chosen words.
He makes an effort to stay in touch with the times, especially the digital technology that has become so important and all-pervasive. On the rare occasion he inflicts a story from the Old Days on a younger audience, he does his best to make it concise and interesting, or at least amusing and on point. He still remembers, if a bit hazily, what it was like to be young himself, and less hazily, what it was like for his children, so he treats teens and even children with the same dignity and courtesy he shows adults and never dismisses the concerns of youth out of hand. He may have trouble keeping a straight face when they are exaggerated beyond reason during a bout of adolescent angst, but will offer practical, straightforward advice if asked.Appearance
Lectern is of average height and size for his age, and gets a decent amount of exercise—after all, he spends a lot of time carrying stacks of books and going up and down stairs. His features are strong and mobile, with a clean-shaven round face that twinkles or smiles easily and often. His complexion is a new-brick red and his eyes are a piercing leaf green. His halo of balding hair and bushy eyebrows are snow white, though whether the white is natural or due to age is hard to tell. Think of a cross between Ian McKellan
and Michael Gambon
. (Thanks to Ggunsailor
, who came up with a better look for Lectern than I originally had in mind!)
Lectern’s wardrobe tends toward white button-down shirts, charcoal-gray suspenders, and black slacks, with black Oxford shoes, though he does have other clothing appropriate to various social settings. He favors bow ties over neckties, but owns a few of each. His eyesight is good, requiring little correction aside from small round thin-frame reading glasses, which often sit perched on his nose.