Booked’s new owners look to cultivate a welcoming environment


Courtesy of @angelareneefamilies

Abby Dan and Betsy Haberl are the new owners of Evanston independent bookstore Booked, and hope to expand their business’ community-building efforts.

Kate Walter, Assistant City Editor

The new owners of the Evanston independent bookshop Booked Abby Dan (Weinberg ’05) and Betsy Haberl (SPS ’18) hope to host community events and highlight diverse experiences at their store behind a child-sized door. 

Dan and Haberl started working at Booked as booksellers last summer and assumed ownership in May. 

“We really would like to be an inclusive and open space that supports all members of our community, and also represents all of the wonderful aspects of the Evanston community with what we carry in books,” Haberl said. 

Booked regularly hosts book clubs, talks with authors and puts on a weekly Dungeons & Dragons club for trans and nonbinary teens. The business also participated in the recent Umbrella Arts Festival with a tent of books to celebrate ASPA authors and engaged with the community during Main-Dempster Mile Art’s & Craft’s Beverage Crawl. It partnered with local author and illustrator Lucy Knisley for an in-store event

According to its website, Booked offers “a carefully curated, diverse selection of new titles and classics for readers of all ages,” including a selection for adults. 

“I think that they really view books as a window to all people’s experiences,” said Booked customer and Evanston resident Liz Berliant. 

Berliant said she loves the sense of joy the store brings. She has two children and said they love the store’s tiny door, which sits within its normal door. She said the tiny door mimics  “walking into this magic area full of books and wonder and experiences.”

Haberl and Dan are both writers and hold degrees from Northwestern in creative writing. They met when they started working at Booked last summer and quickly developed a friendship. 

“It’s a joy to work with her,” said Dan of her business partner. “It was very quickly clear that we meshed really well.”

An avid reader and writer, Dan said owning a bookstore fits in line with her life’s pursuits. For Haberl, receiving an MFA in creative writing introduced her into the literary world. She said that owning a bookstore feels like “a natural fit.”

The new owners also said they are hoping to expand their offerings for adult readers, including starting an adult book club this summer. 

In addition to transitioning to new ownership, Booked adopted expanded hours for the summer and a new logo created by Evanston resident Richa Cordero, which includes a depiction of the store’s well-known “tiny door” at its entrance. 

Jessica Iverson, who works at Booked, said Dan and Haberl are a formidable pair who will serve Booked well.

“They both are rich with ideas and they’re good problem solvers,” Iverson said. “Not only am I excited to have them as bosses, but I’m really excited to see what they end up having in store for (Booked), and I really hope the community has the same excited curiosity.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @katewalter03

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