Kristin Harmel and Writer’s Block Bookstore go back 10 years, to when Lauren Zimmerman opened the bookstore and booked Harmel for its inaugural author event, a launch party for The Life Intended. “It has been a joy to watch them grow and flourish,” Harmel wrote, when nominating WBB for Bookstore of the Year. “They have become a powerful voice in the community.”

She’s not exaggerating: in the past decade, WBB, which sells new books for both adults and children, has become a literary hub of the Greater Orlando metro area. WBB, housed initially in a 1,300-square-foot retail space in Winter Park, more than doubled in size in 2019 after moving onto the town’s main thoroughfare from a side street. The following year, it opened a 1,200-square-foot satellite store 20 miles away, in Winter Garden, after that town’s leaders solicited Zimmerman.

The store’s 28 employees divide their time between the two stores. Approximately 200–240 author events take place annually, featuring both local and touring authors, including some big names that draw huge crowds: 600 people showed up for a book signing in February featuring TikTok star Tabitha Brown (I Did a New Thing), and 400 people attended an in-person event with Nicholas Sparks (The Return) in October 2020, while the pandemic still raged.

WBB also is pumping up its bottom line by being the vendor of record for conventions, conferences, and other large events held in and around Orlando. “We have partnerships and relationships everywhere,” Zimmerman says. “We’re always off-site somewhere.” Sales at two large conventions in November, she notes, “brought in like $50,000, which is insane.”

And like many indies around the country, WBB serves the community by hosting authors and providing books to underfunded schools. When, in November, Chris Grabenstein canceled his attendance at a conference in the area, WBB held a book drive, asking customers to buy up the books the store had ordered. After selling all the books, WBB invited Grabenstein to visit a local Title One school and then donated 240 books to that school.