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Just over a year ago, D.C. welcomed its first new independent bookstore in more than a decade, when Paul Ruppert opened Upshur Street Books in Petworth. Now, less than a mile from Ruppert’s shop, another new bookselling operation is set to open. Walls of Books, a franchise of the Georgia-based Gottwals Books operated in D.C. by Brightwood resident Pablo Sierra, will soft-open on Dec. 12.
Unlike Ruppert’s 800-square-foot store, Walls of Books is three times the size and sells used books. Unlike some of the city’s other used bookstores, this one won’t highlight its stacks of leather-bound editions and out-of-print finds. “We won’t specialize in the rare, first edition Moby Dicks,” Sierra says. Instead, the shop, which will carry 30,000 volumes in English and Spanish when it opens, will sell general interest fiction and nonfiction titles, ranging in price from $3 to $15. You probably won’t find a coveted copy of Dream City on the shelves right away but customers can put in requests for specific titles online. A selection of Melissa & Doug toys will also be sold.
Located at 3325 Georgia Ave. NW, next to the post office, Walls of Books will bring some welcome retail to the neighborhood, where empty storefronts are interspersed between luxury apartment buildings and new bars and restaurants. Sierra focused his location scouting along the Georgia Avenue corridor, where he feels this kind of business will do well as foot traffic increases in the coming months and years. “There’s a sense of community that stores like this provide, where you can come in, meet up with someone, get a coffee some place around the corner, bring it in, and hang out and discuss,” he says.
The idea of the bookstore as a venue for discussion extends to Walls of Books’ event series as well, which will begin after the new year. In addition to morning reading events for the neighborhood’s ever increasing population of children, Sierra hopes to host events tied to issues of local and national interest, among them mass incarceration and trafficking. By bringing in experts to discuss these issues with community members, he hopes to foster greater connections among customers.
Sierra will set up the store in the next two weeks. In that intervening time, he recommends reading a favorite book set in D.C.: David Nicholson‘s Flying Home, a collection of seven stories set in D.C.’s less glamorous neighborhoods.
Image of 3325 Georgia Ave. NW via Google Maps