Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Road Trip! Jason and I Head to the Word Bookstore in Brooklyn

So we're at Book Expo, and a stay in New York is not complete without visiting one of the great bookstores that have reinvigorated Gotham's lit life. We had a break on Monday, so we repeated our excursion on the C line that I made with Amie last year to Greenlight in Fort Greene. Rebecca and I exchanged card ideas (actually, it was all one way--I had nothing of interest), we both said hi to Alexis, late of DC's bookselling scene, and we met Emily, our second spotting of a Russo in as many hours. We all oohed and ahhed over Richard and Kate Russo's new book, Interventions. It's a beautiful boxed set published by Down East. They certainly did a swell job of one-upping the digital version.

We had a great time perusing the stacks and sections. A really great assortment of impulse titles on tables all over the store, a nice collection of kids' gift stuff, and signed first editions to make a collector salivate. It doesn't hurt that every major writer seems to live around the corner.

So Rebecca asked us what we were going to do next, and we hoped to visit at least one other bookstore while we were in the neighborhood. It turns out that both Word and Book Court are on the G line. Here's a good idea for the MTA: brand the G line as the "lit line." They weren't quite sure of the stop, but thought it might be Metropolitan.

So we rush to the train, get to the platform, and only then do we remember that we probably should have double-checked the stop. Uh oh, no reception! We get out at Metropolitan, check the map, and realize we're at least 20 blocks from Word. We'll never get there and back to the Book Expo buzz panel, which is often one of the highlights of the show.

Later in the show, I fortuitously ran into Christine, Word's owner, at a dinner. Yes, we were seated next to each other. I told her the story, and she said, "You don't want to visit me by subway anyway. You want to take the new Brooklyn ferry."

Whaaaaaaaaat? A Brooklyn ferry? I know nothing.

It goes from 34th and 1st down to the Wall Street area, stopping first at Long Island City, Williamsburgh, and yes, Greenpoint, which is where Word is located. And being that our hotel was on 39th and Lex, it really couldn't be easier.

The ferry terminal dock is sort of under construction. There's another ferry to the Jersey shore that leaves from there, and though there were only about 20 people on our trip, I can imagine the day where these things are selling out. For $4 each way, we were in Greenpoint in only ten minutes. From there, Word is a short six block walk.

Christine's word of caution before heading out: "You know we're very small." Don't worry, I've already heard you speak. The store is about 800 square feet. I don't need a store to be large for me to fall in love. After all, two of my favorite stores are Three Lives in the Village, and Carmichael's in Louisville. And though I like both branches, I'm almost more fond of the smaller one, just because I'm in awe about how they pack so much into so little in such a smart way.

They have one of the best logos out there, no question. And they use it well, integrating it into the physical space in a way that we do not. One thing that Jason noticed was despite their small space, they didn't fall into the trap of just highlighting the major titles from each publisher. There were plenty of surprises, such as Christopher Priest's The Islanders, which Jason has been very hot on. One day we'll ask the gang why they break out romance but not science fiction. I have a theory but it's way too complicated to discuss here.

We actually knew several folks at the store. In addition to Christine, we ran into Jenn, who runs the events. Jason and I first knew her at The King's English, and after a run at Breathe in Baltimore, she headed north to Brooklyn. Also there was Emily, who is also crossing the continent, having most recently made a name for herself at Los Angeles's Skylight. Jenn and I decided to write notes (mine was written on a card I had just bought at the store--nice card selection!) to future authors each of us were hosting. Bonnie Jo Campbell got her bookseller fan note, being that several booksellers there are fans of Once Upon a River, and I, well I don't want to give mine away.

We headed downstairs to the event space. It's sort of a cross between a cavern and a clubhouse. An old console television is their counter space. They can get a nice crowd down  there, and they don't even have to move fixtures.

New (to me) bookstore. New (to me) ferry. Our little side trip turned out to be one of the highlights of the show.

No comments: