D.C.’s always been a well-read city, and our preeminent independent bookstore, Politics & Prose, regularly winds up on lists of the best in the nation. But in 2014, the supply of bookstores in D.C. grew rapidly. As part of the Monroe Street Market complex in Brookland, Barnes & Noble and Catholic University celebrated the opening of a new two-story shop in late July. Meanwhile, in Petworth, restaurateur Paul Ruppert continued his expansion into the neighborhood by launching the tiny Upshur Street Books, a complement to the literary-themed bar next door, in early November. And later that month, Politics & Prose partnered with Busboys and Poets to take over the restaurant’s bookselling operations at its soon-to-open locations in Brookland and Takoma. (Politics & Prose will launch satellite shops at Busboys’ Shirlington, Hyattsville, and 5th and K streets NW locations by fall 2015.)
In the Amazon era, when nearly every title can be purchased with one click, these new ventures are hyperfocused on customer service. Politics & Prose shoppers will be able to order books from the main location and pick them up at any Busboys, and Upshur Street Books staff members will hand-deliver purchases within the neighborhood. It’s nearly as easy as buying from your laptop.