December 17, 2013
WORD opens in Jersey City
by Kirsten Reach
WORD Bookstore opened its highly anticipated second location in Jersey City last weekend, just in time for the holiday season. Set just a few steps from the Grove Street PATH station at 123 Newark Avenue, the space is nearly four times as much square footage as the Brooklyn store.
There’s a stage for readings—including one already scheduled for February with The Office’s B.J. Novak—and a cafe that will open in coming weeks. The staff will offer coffee and books through a to-go window in the front window, designed for the building’s previous life as a fast food restaurant. The hours are designed for New York commuters, from 9 AM to 10 PM. Owner Christine Onorati and her staff hosted a “sneak peek” at the store last Thursday with pizza from the neighboring restaurant, Roman Nose.
“When is WORD opening?” someone heckled Onorati during her opening toast, making the crowd laugh. Onorati thanked everyone for their support. There were unexpected delays, but the store is finally open for business.
Hudson County has suffered from a dearth of bookstores since the Hoboken Barnes and Noble and Newport Mall’s B. Dalton both shut down in 2010. Neighboring Bayonne also lost Unique Books that year. Imagine Atrium, a children’s bookstore in Jersey City, closed in 2009. Other independent used bookstores exist in the area, but WORD will focus on frontlist titles.
WORD announced its plans for a new store last January. Carol and Aleta Valleau opened Tachair last year, offering bookstore with new and used books, a few blocks down from WORD on Newark Avenue. Curious Matter, an independent, contemporary gallery in Jersey City, also runs Le Bouquiniste, a book stand of letterpress and small print works. In April, around WORD’s first reading, the Wall Street Journal heralded the neighborhood as a “new destination” for books.
Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.