Monday, March 16, 2015

Slice of Life, #16

            I visited to a new bookstore today, Book Culture on Columbus. It's the third branch of Book Culture (which is in the Columbia University neighborhood, used to be Labyrinth Books until one owner bought out the others, who took over the New Haven store still named Labyrinth). The New York owner called his “new” old store Book Culture. (The second branch was also in former bookstore space, what used to be Papyrus Books, which closed years ago, then became Morningside Books, until Book Culture took over the lease in 2009.)
            The newest store also used to be a bookstore, but before that it was on the ground floor of the Endicott Hotel. Originally built in 1889, the Endicott had been a majestic building with a palm court and such residents as the gangster Dutch Schultz. By the 1960s, however, it had become an SRO, housing people on the lowest  economic rungs. I lived around the corner from it then, and on Saturday nights we would sometimes hear screams or drunken shouts. On weekdays mornings as I headed to work, I'd pass half a dozen men sitting on the Endicott stoop, already drinking, but they recognized me from the block and greeted me good-naturedly. A police precinct was built next door, and the Endicott was converted to a luxury co-op in 1981, with a large bookstore also called the Endicott. It was a lovely bookstore, with a large selection of fiction ranging from literary to commercial, and thoughtful nonfiction as well. Then it closed, in 1995.*
            I was happy to hear that Book Culture was opening there, and today I had a chance to go in. It's the same expansive, airy space, with lots and lots of books,  and also lots of imaginative sidelines (bookseller jargon for anything that isn't a book): besides the usual Moleskin notebooks and note cards, there are, in the cookbook section, colorful ceramic teapots, plates, and bowls, as well as tote bags and an odd collection of colored spoons – or maybe that was just a table decoration. Even though I have more books than I have time to read, I bought the second volume of John Lewis's graphic memoir, March 2, and a recycled Decomposition notebook.
*[Blogger is making me look like a complete layout dunce, arbitrarily changing fonts and sizes and not allowing me to correct such design mistakes. Any Blogger users out there who can help?] 

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