If you find yourself in the Bloomfield/Garfield/Friendship section of Penn Avenue, you will no doubt see a handmade sign looming outside a small shop next to SPAK BROS. Pizza that just reads “BOOKS”. If you have not seen the sign, you can’t miss the spot where this little artist owned bookstore, Awesome Books, is hiding.
Nestled between two of Penn Avenue’s brightest attractions this new little gem is not to be missed. With scads and scads of used books on site, and a thousand more in storage, Awesome Books is everything that the modern book industry is missing.
Since the money problems really started to show at Borders, along with their eventual decline, and the loss of Joseph Beth and the closing of many Barnes and Nobles, it has become apparent that the only saving grace is going to be stock reduction and specialization. Focus on what is really selling in your area, reduce the quantities of stock that is not selling, and get rid of the music, movies, and cafe. Do what you are there to do–sell books. And that, is what Awesome Books is doing.
When you walk into Awesome Books it feels like you are walking into someone’s home library. You can smell the paper, and the cloth, and the dust, and the wood of the floors, not burnt coffee and Chlorox. It is quiet, like a bookshop should be, and warm. The homeyness is amplified by the cats playing in the corner and under your feet, and the single employee sitting on the couch working on some art project or another.
The selection is small, but comprehensive, and everything is used. They have new and old titles alike in everything from falling apart to like new condition. And like any corporate bookstore out there, they can get you anything you want, if you are willing to wait a bit. Awesome Books does this with personal service and a commitment to its customers. If they don’t have what you are looking for they will take down your name and number and call you when they get it in–generally within a week. They make a personal phone call, remember your conversation, and help in any other way they can. And this is what is missing from chain stores, and it is something that they will never have…heart. The employees have it, but the stores never will, because there are a thousand clones of them all around the world.
With the pressures of big business, and contracted coffee shops, and political correctness, and looming foreclosures, all the book loving people in the country could work in your storefront and you won’t have the warmth you feel at a small privately owned shop. This is where the business needs to move to–they need to de-evolve. Big box stores, you have taken on too much, and you need to step down. Let go of what is not selling and stick to what you are good at–selling BOOKS.
In this day and age, when so many people are clinging to their e-books, those of us who need the touch, the taste, the smell, the heart of a real, live book–and it truly is a need–we need a place like Awesome Books. We crave a place where our friends, enemies, lovers, and muses can live, and thrive and have their adventures in a place that is just for them. No music, no movies, no download kiosks and no coffee shops. And if you want coffee, buy a book at Awesome Books. You get a free cup fromOh Yeah! Ice Cream with every purchase. Go mooch off them for a place to hang out.