Location: 170 7th Ave South, New York, NY and 249 Warren Street, Brooklyn, NY
Description: Idlewild’s new location in the West Village is unique. The small store on the corner has one long, curved wall lined with books and windows. Several hip-height bookshelves and one larger display table are placed throughout the store. The main room contains travel books for any destination you might want to go, and offers so many different styles of guides that you will have no problems finding exactly what you are looking for. The store also has two small back rooms – each outfitted with long, wooden tables, wooden chairs, blackboards, and an oriental rug. On the blackboards, Spanish and French sentences are neatly written in colorful, chalky cursive. Though they are still moving into to this new location, they remain open and I have no doubt that when the transformation is complete, Idlewild’s already pleasant atmosphere will gain an even greater level of charm.
What I like: Aside from their huge selection of books, one of my favorite aspects of this bookstore is the design. I love the curving wall, as it not only creates plenty of space to browse, but it also provides a unique structure that I haven’t seen in any other bookstore I have visited so far. Even though the interior of the main room is relatively modern, the shape of the curved wall is reminiscent of the wall of a castle tower or a rotunda in an old home, which seems fitting for the travel-centered focus of this store. In contrast, the classrooms in the back have a rustic and old-fashioned feel to them, which provides a cozy learning space that is suitable for all ages. Additionally, though Idlewild is a travel bookstore, and they predominantly sell travel guides and maps, they also sell a selection of other books including fiction and nonfiction books that are either in translation or set in another country, as well as cookbooks from places like India, Scandinavia, and Peru . Their Brooklyn location also sells a small selection of books in other languages.
How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: This bookstore has one of the best websites that I have encountered so far. The home page is colorful, visually stimulating, and the websites design is consistent with some of the promotional materials and colored chalky writing present in the physical store. Idlewild’s website also shows the intention of opening a webshop so that customers can browse remotely, however this feature does not yet seem to be up and running. Upon arriving at the home page, the website generates a newsletter popup, which alerts the visitor to the newsletter’s existence. Even if customers do not sign up for the newsletter right away, the site also provides an option to subscribe in the top left corner of each page. Another unique feature that contributes to Ildewild’s success is the abundance of language classes they offer in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Classes are taught by native speakers and range in level of difficulty. Idlewild offers skill building for everyone from complete newcomers to those looking to practice their conversation and discussion skills.