Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Culture - New York, NY

Book Culture from the outside.  

There are two Book Cultures in NYC, I visited the one on 112th St.  This place has everything; t-shirts, journals, magazines, greeting cards, bags of all kinds, miscellaneous gift items, and an excellent inventory of books.  It has a writing table upstairs where people are encouraged to write a letter to anyone on stationery they provide.  Put the letter in the box on the writing table and they provide the postage and mail it.  And during my whole time there classical music playing in the background.  Great atmosphere.

Writing letters and books.  Outdated?  Not here, nor should it be.  If you visit Book Culture and get a chance to talk to Chris the owner, do it.  In my brief time on this project, I don't think I've talked to anyone with more passion about books and indie bookstores.  I am learning a lot on this project and I wish I could convey Chris's passion in this post.  But I think I can make a primary observation.  Books are our heritage, our culture.  But the culture is slipping away to those who really don't have a vested interest.  Mega-chains, discount stores, discount internet businesses, etc.  You know who I'm talking about.  But the publishers have the freedom of choice.  They can sell (sell-out?) to whoever they want.  The trickle down effect?  It compromises not only indie book stores and their employees, but authors, talent, artists, editors, and a multitude of others I don't even know about.  So how do we save this culture of books?  Publishers, I'm looking at you.  Take a frickin stand.  Put your collective feet down and take a stand  Be part of an industry that does the right thing for once.  You can control the indie growth or the indie (and book) demise.  Don't deny your descendants what we and our ancestors have cherished.  A book.

Ok, I'm off the soapbox but Chris the owner can really speak to this with a knowledge of the industry.  Rant aside, this place was super.  They also do book buy-backs and deal in text books as well.

I can't say enough about the staff at Book Culture.  Brenna, Natalie, and Miguel were all great to talk to about books and about the store.  Friendly, patient (thank goodness!), and kind.  The perfect combination that any customer appreciates.  Also knowledgeable and ready to recommend books for your "waiting to be read" pile.  This staff and the owner Chris were 5 star all the way.  Thanks for a great visit, Book Culture.  Now, go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Wait Till Next Year, Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Brooklyn and baseball in the 50s and the author growing up.  She's a great historian.

RECENTLY FINISHED:  Every Day Is For The Thief, Teju Cole.  Corruption in Nigeria.  Fiction but it feels autobiographical and probably includes experiences of the author.  This is a good one.  Tinkers, Paul Harding.  Won a Pulitzer but I thought it was slow and it rambled.  The best thing about it was it was short.  On The Come Up, Hannah Weyer.  Non-fiction about a young teen girl in Rockaway, unwed and pregnant, and her challenges to pull herself up.  Outstanding!

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard.  Highly recommended by Brenna at Book Culture.  It's huge over in Norway.  I'm hopeful.

From the outside.

I lovet his promo!

What you see when you walk in the door!

Main floor.  

Natalie (L) and Brenna.

Chris the owner (L) and yours truly.  

Miguel was covering the 2nd floor.  

The writing table.  

Looking down from the 2nd floor.  They even have books on the stairs!

Bonus points if you recognize this landmark just down the street from Book Culture.  


  1. It's the Seinfeld restaurant! Do I get a prize????