#65 Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
1517 Conn. Ave.
Washington DC 20036

Back on the East Coast I stop in to see Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in DC.   This store is great. It’s cool and crammed with books and is just a few steps from Dupont Circle.  Their selection of books is smart, and thank to their location they draw in a lot of pedestrian traffic.  It doesn’t hurt that there is also the the Afterwords Cafe & Bar.  This bookstore works similarly to Trident up in Boston in that the bar/restaurant draws in a lot of people on its own.

And the tourists!  I’m standing inside Kramerbooks for five minutes when my high school English teacher walks in, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world.  She’s in town.  I’m in town.  Where do bookish types end up?  Kramerbooks!

No sidelines here, only books, magazines, newspapers, and beer.  I guess beer is a sideline.  No book events either.  At 33 years Kramerbooks is a DC institution.  They’re open nonstop over the weekend, so keep it in mind if you’re not ready to call it a night!!!!  A bookstore and a bar.  And apparently a great place to hook up.  That’s what the booksellers tell me, anyway.  I guess thats a good sideline too.  Books, booze, and good lovin’.  My new favorite spot in DC.

I could go on, but their website has a promotional video and the menu.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 11:10 am  Comments (2)  

#64 Changing Hands Bookstore

Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283

I drove from San Diego to Tempe to visit Changing Hands because I’d been invited to read there and also because people kept telling me it’s one of those bookstores that can’t be missed.   Changing Hands is one of the most highly regarded indies in the country.

35 years in the bookselling business, Changing Hands is a large independent store in a strip mall that rivals the chains for size. They sell new, used, remaindered, and consignment books here. The store is spacious with friendly knowledgeable staff and a smart selection of books.

They work closely with their community, host a community movie night and CLUB READ — A children’s book club. In fact, the children’s section is very large at Changing Hands.

Staff is encouraged to make selections and those are placed prominently in the store. There’s also a book club wall.

At this point in the trip, I’d been on the road for about eight weeks straight. I’ve already learned a lot about what makes a bookstore work, and I feel like i’ve developed a sixth sense about them. I feel like I can walk in to a store and immedietly know if it’s working well. It’s because the best stores like Changing Hands are doing way more than selling books. For one thing, the best stores diversify their inventory. Sidelines, used books, coffee.

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment