Strand Bookstore is located at 828 Broadway (the corner of East 12th) and is just a short stroll from Union Square. It is the sole remaining bookstore from the legendary 'Book Row' the New York strip that was once the home of 48 bookstores spanning from Union Square to Astor Place. The Strand has been trading since 1927.
A haven for bargain hunters (they have an enormous range of second-hand volumes) and the literary minded Strand has grown and changed with the times and there are plenty of things that explain why it continues to thrive (at least in relation to the sad decline of other bricks and mortar bookstores in the world).
Firstly, any self-respecting bookish tourist makes a pilgrimage there when visiting the Big Apple. Whenever I see someone with a tote bag from the famous shop I feel a strange kinship with the person. These tourist dollars have to have something to do with Strand's longevity.
The little Strand kiosk that operates at Central Park might also play a role. In the summertime I can barely imagine a nicer thing to do than peruse the kiosk for my latest purchase and then pop into the park to be transported by the printed words on the page and then happily brought back to reality by the mischievous scampering of the squirrels that populate the park.
Strand Books - 18 Miles of New, Used and Rare Books
While visiting New York quite some time ago I happened across a page for an event that featured Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard in conversation with Ron Currie Jr. The two had made contact on Twitter and gotten to know one another. The event was basically free. A voucher that could be redeemed in store was your entrance for the evening. This ensured that they made some money from the event.
The splendour of the rare book room
Hosted in the beautiful rare-book room the evening sold out and proved to be a pretty incredible experience. Ben played some songs acoustically. Just imagine hearing a live, acoustic version of the Marching Bands of Manhattan
surrounded by old and rare books to understand what a truly spine-tingling evening it was. The two then entertained us with a bit of back and forth banter discussing their mutual admiration and creative processes before the audience had the chance to pose questions.
While this particular event was a once-off they often host literary evenings and this helps keep people visiting the store. I've even seen information for a speed-dating night. At least you know that everyone who turns up likes books. These attempts to foster a community among their customers has to be part of the continued success of the shop.
They have had some really big names in store too, like James Franco, and they've got the bookish accessories that make the perfect gift for your bookworm friends.
Displayed with love - 20 years of Booker Prize winners
Interesting displays also play a role in the nice feeling inside the store. There are sections of classics, staff picks and then books arranged into different categories. This helps navigate as the shop is large and when you get to the back it's just stacks and stacks of books that may be a little overwhelming unless you know what you're looking for.
I can't wait to visit again and see what literary wonders I'll discover.