Seventeen-year-old Book Culture (formerly Labyrinth Books), near Columbia University in New York City, is about to add a third location.
Book Culture opened a second location on Broadway, two blocks from the original store in 2009, in the former Morningside Books location. That’s also the former site of Papyrus Books, where Book Culture founder Chris Doeblin got his start. Now, Doeblin and his partner, Annie Shapiro, will be operational owners of the new 4,000 sq. ft. store at 450 Columbus Avenue. The location is the site of yet another former bookstore, Endicott, which closed in 1995.
Doeblin plans to set up the soon-to-be-opened Book Culture as part of a new bookstore model that he developed at the Broadway store, where sales are split evenly between books and other merchandise but which looks and feels like a bookstore. He compares it to other high-concept New York City bookstores like the Urban Outfitters near Macy’s, which stocks 3,000 books, and the Strand Bookstore at Club Monaco. “We’re going in as a bookstore,” he says. “At the end of the day, we’re going to be selling a lot of other stuff.”
In part, Doeblin explains, that’s because of the “Amazonization” of books, with prices continuing to drop. “Most of the other stuff we sell makes an effort to protect MAP [Minimum Advertised Pricing],” he says. “Our solution is to push ahead. There is, in my view, a very long future for books, and I don’t mean decades. I mean centuries. We have to stop throwing up our hands.”
He sees the new store and its model, which is very different from that of the original Book Culture, which began as an academic bookstore and still relies on textbook sales at the start of the fall and spring semesters, as a the way for bookstores to move forward. He anticipates that sales at the new store will likely be split evenly between books and nonbook items as at the Broadway store. Similarly, the new store will be family- and neighborhood-oriented and have a “significant space” for readings and events.
Although construction at Book Culture on Broadway was slated to have begun at the beginning of August, it has not yet started. Still, Doeblin is optimistic that the store will open at the end of November in time for the holidays.