Name: Book Culture
- 536 West 112th Street
- 2915 Broadway (at 114th Street)
- 450 Columbus Avenue
Description: Book Culture on Broadway is a small independent bookstore on the corner of West 114th Street. Though this store is much smaller than its other locations, it offers a similar selection of books and other items to be browsed. A pleasant aroma permeates the air as customers peruse well-stocked shelves and display tables. Large storefront windows, allow the shop to get plenty of natural light, and provide an enticing display for passers-by. The store on 112th is perhaps a little harder to find, but a small sign placed on the corner of Broadway and 112th points curious pedestrians and other book-loving individuals in the right direction. Despite its larger size, the Book Culture on 112th provides just as intimate a book browsing experience as the smaller store on 114th. I have not yet visited the location on Columbus Avenue, but I am hoping to make a trip there soon.
What I like: Aside from the cozy atmosphere, Book Culture has several nice features that stand out. The first is that, as you peruse the books, you will see little notecards taped to some shelves. These notecards are staff recommendations and provide the customer with the book title, staff name, and a brief explanation of why they like the book. These recommendations range from new releases to classics and cover every genre, so there is something for everyone. I also like this feature because it demonstrates that the staff are just as interested in reading as the customers and it helps create a feeling of community within the store. Additionally, Book Culture sells a variety of products aside from books including backpacks, mugs, water bottles, and candles. Book Culture does a good job of choosing objects that relate to books and those who read them.
Many of their non-book wares also have literary themes such as coasters, mugs, t-shirts, and socks made by a New York City based company called Out of Print that creates their designs by using cover art from classic books. I also like that they have these other items scattered throughout the store instead of placing them in one corner because it enhances the browser experience. For example, in the store on 114th, they sell kitchen items, which are placed near the cookbooks.
How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: Book Culture appears to be managing well during the age of E-books and Amazon. They not only have three store locations, but have established a website where they sell books and other book- related products such as literary t-shirts and tote bags. Book Culture also carries the staff recommendations from store to website, creating a continuity of ideas between their online presence and physical presence. The recommendations also allow the website to maintain the small bookstore feeling, while appealing to a wider audience because of its place online. Additionally, the store has its own blog – easily accessible from their website – where they post about diversity in literature, community interests, and author Q & A’s. In the store on 112th, signs that explain the importance of supporting independent bookstores hang over some of the tables. The stores on 112th and Columbus Avenue also host numerous reading, signing, and discussion events with authors, which encourages readers to come to the physical stores instead of browsing online.