One of the things I admire most about Strand (and let’s be honest, there’s a lot to admire) is that they consistently do an excellent job curating engaging, unique book displays.
Their most exciting new(ish) display series is The Author’s Bookshelf. The store invites contemporary writers to share the titles on their bookshelves — the books they love and recommend — and then Strand displays these selections on their website and on tables in their store. As you know from this post, I’ve always liked looking through other people’s bookshelves (do any of you do that?), so The Author’s Bookshelf has a particular allure.
Strand has a number of fun categories for their in-store displays, ranging from the ever popular (but much appreciated) Award Winning Books section to the more ambiguous Expand Your Horizons table. Their displays are accessible and often sorted into affordable price brackets. (“Biographies Under Ten Dollars” one sign says.) Yet Strand pulls no punches in its book selection.
I can honestly say that I’ve never seen Gertrude Stein featured on any bookstore’s poetry table (if, indeed, they even have one). So to see Tender Buttons next to Stanley Kunitz and Sylvia Plath was a thrill. Not to mention the prominent placement of Wislawa Szymborska, one of my all-time favorites.
This is a bookstore that honors its readers with a high standard of expectation.
Regardless of category, all their section signage includes quotes, some thought-provoking (“A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul,” Franz Kafka proclaims from the Literary Nonfiction signage) and others lighthearted (Sally Field’s “You like me!” on the aforementioned Award Winning Books sign).
Strand is a store where it’s easy to come across old favorites, titles you’ve been meaning to read, and books you’ve never heard of but are very glad to have found — all in the span of one table or shelf. Strand’s in-store signs market their books as cheaper than eBooks (they often are), but that’s hardly the only thing that gives them a competitive edge. It’s a bookstore still personalized by staff picks, author recommendations, and a spirit of creativity that — in a world of online bookbuying and eBooks — makes the store feel ever-relevant and necessary.
(Note: You can read more Bookstore Reviews here.)