Who says good ideas don't come from bars? Last winter when Kelly von Plonski's store, Subterranean Books, seemed in danger of going under, von Plonski's fellow bookstore owner, Nikki Furrer of Pudd'nhead Books, took her out for a drink to commiserate and dream up ways to bring in customers. Later that night, Furrer had an idea: What if Subterranean and Pudd'nhead and every other independent bookstore in the St. Louis area started working together to build up business collectively? Within the week, Left Bank Books and Main Street Books in St. Charles were in on the plan, and the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance was born. The first booksellers association of its kind, the alliance now comprises a dozen new and used bookstores across the metro area, from O'Fallon to Granite City, Illinois. It maintains a lively website with recommendations, reviews, a calendar of events and a weekly bestseller list. It has also organized a "bookstore cruise" and an evening of literary speed-dating to bring readers together. The alliance has proven that although both reading and selling books can sometimes feel like lonely enterprises, they don't always have to be. And that's a good thing.