Most of Queens is a barren wasteland for the literarily inclined. With a few scattered corporate bookstores, this borough is not plush with local shops like Brooklyn or Manhattan. Western Queens however, is about to get it’s first community bookstore. The Astoria Bookshop is set to open this summer and Lexi Beach, owner of the new Astoria Bookshop met with the mamas in a bare space where she told us about her plans to open Astoria’s very first indie bookstore.
QM: So what is the name of the store?
LB: The Astoria Bookshop. When I first had this idea I thought that the name would be something puny, or literary but I am much more straight forward than that. Astoriabookshop.com was available so I just bought it. It makes it easy for people to find us, we are already seeing traffic from Google.
QM: People think publishing is dead. What do you think about that statement when opening a bookstore?
LB: One of the questions that we have been getting frequently is “bookstores are dying, why are you doing this?” and we ask “do you know what is going on with bookstores?” they are adding to their services, opening new stores and are actually successful. There are bookstores that are going under of course but not the majority of them. People who like to read, like to read, they have no loyalty to ebooks so bookstores will continue to be successful.
QM: How big is the space and will you offer anything else?
LB: 1200 square feet. Everyone keeps asking if we will also have a cafe and a place to sit but I don’t know how to make that busiess work. I need as much space as possible to offer a diverse selection of product so it will be worth your while to come here. We will have some non book items like journals and cards but that’s it.
QM: I told my daughter that there was a bookstore and she was so excited. She will now not have to travel to Forest Hills to get a book!
QM: So when are you opening?
LB: Mid August but it depends on construction. We have opened the space up and we need to finish it but the books will be available online before we open.
QM: What kind of books will you be selling?
LB: really….everything…. well not everything but …
QM: Will you have for instance Tolstoy?
QM: Wow! so you will be going the extra mile for hard core literature or just the best sellers?
LB: We want diversity. I know, as a visitor, most of the book stores in New York and each one of them feels like the neighborhood that it is in. We want this (store) to feel like Astoria and one of the defining characharistics of Astoria is that it is incredibly diverse. The people, the food and the architecture, you walk around and you don’t know what neighborhood you are in from one building to the next. This is a general interest bookstore and the starting inventory will be going on instinct, asking around and finding out what our customers like to read.
QM: Do you live in Astoria?
I don’t.. which is weird I know. My wife and I have spent a lot of time here but we live right over the river in Manhattan. I love New York City and I think of it as my longest love affair. I like my neighborhood but I like a lot of other neighborhoods too. Connie and I even had a 5 borough honeymoon where we went to the Bronx Zoo, rode the Staten Island ferry and the like.
QM: What has been the communities reaction so far?
LB: Well someone came in the door the other day just to stay “thank you” so I think that is has been really positive. People are so excited that we are here.
QM: Will you have story time for kids?
LB: Yes, that was actually how I convinced my wife Connie to help me. We are very proud aunts but we do not have kids and when I told her that she could read picture books to kids.. She said “can I wear a crown and a tutu??” and I said “yes”. So she said “I’m in”
Astoria Bookshop – 31-29 31st St Queens, NY 11102