November 7, 2014

DC gets a new indie bookstore, and a new bookselling partnership


Two DC institutions are teaming up, and new bookstores are opening up. Image via Politics and Prose.

Two DC institutions are teaming up, and new bookstores are opening up. Image via Politics and Prose.

It’s a good week to be an independent bookseller in Washington, DC! A new bookstore has opened up, and two DC organizations have teamed up to sell books.

Local literary institution Politics and Prose along with Busboys & Poets, a chain of cultural event spaces, together announced a new partnership that will see the bookseller operating stores inside the existing spaces.

Given the natural synergy between these two deeply-rooted Washington institutions, we’re delighted—and excited—to announce that Politics and Prose will soon begin managing book sales at most Busboys and Poets locations in the District, Maryland and Virginia. This innovative business arrangement will unite P&P’s bookselling skills with Busboys and Poets’ track record of operating multi-use, food-and-event gathering spaces. Both enterprises share a deep commitment to building community, providing quality customer service, and promoting public discussion of ideas, cultural issues, and current events.

The plan is to start with an entirely new Busboys & Poets, opening in DC’s Brookland neighborhood next month, followed in January by another new store in Takoma, DC. Next year, according to the Politics & Prose website, “P&P will assume responsibility for book operations already in existence at the Busboys and Poets restaurants in Hyattsville, Shirlington, and downtown Washington at 5th and K. The book operation at the Busboys and Poets at 14th and V in Washington will remain managed by Teaching for Change.”

Lissa Muscatine told Ron Charles at the Washington Post that one of the great results of the partnership should be an expanded roster of author events.

“Our events staff are ecstatic because so much of their job now is saying no to authors.” She speculated that some writers will appear at multiple locations, and she promised that there would be “no cannibalizing” of existing store offerings. “Having these different-sized spaces adds hugely to the array of events that we can host and will allow more and more communities to interact with authors.”

And a more traditional bookstore just opened in the DC neighborhood of Petworth. Upshur Street Books is owned by Paul Ruppert, who also owns restaurants in the changing neighborhood. The George Washington University Hatchet visited and found that “Upshur Street Books is carving a niche in the independent bookstore realm. This is a bookstore for the locals: It has the feel of a highly-organized home bookshelf in the best possible way.” DC blog Popville has a few pictures from inside the store.

And not to be outdone, the suburbs got their own new independent bookstore, too. GreenRow Books has opened in Ellicott City, MD, about halfway between Baltimore and Washington. According to Shelf Awareness, GreenRow Books is 600-square-feet and located on Ellicott City’s main street;” the owner, Beth Panageotou has already started three book clubs: “#TeamGRB, a book club for middle grade readers; BookPlates, which is held at a local restaurant and features food and drinks paired with that month’s book; and the Brown Bag Book Club, in which Panageotou chooses a different paperback book each month and wraps it in brown paper, so customers don’t know what they’re buying.”


Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.