Before the pandemic, the survival of independent bookstores — and books in general — was in jeopardy. When COVID hit, shipping delays and lockdowns seemed to spell the end of bookstores.
As a well-crafted plot, however, the pandemic ushered in a resurgence of bookstore love instead. Book sales surged and people again invested in local shopping. “The way we read, consume and live has changed during COVID,” says Eileen Dengler, executive director of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting bookstores in the region.
Membership has blossomed over the past two years, and while there have been store closures, like Huntington’s beloved Book Revue, a new generation of new bookstores is bringing new life to many small towns. of the island.
“Owning a bookstore is extremely difficult,” Dengler says. “But it’s also absolutely magical.”
Here are four new bookstores to discover on the island:
17 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay
When former congressman Steve Israel first looked at the space that now houses his boutique, Oyster Bay’s main street was littered with vacancies. By the time he returned a few months later to sign the lease, it was the last available spot in town. “If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic,” Israel says, “it’s that the main streets of the small town have come alive again.”
Theodore’s, which opened in November, is named after Oyster Bay’s most famous resident, former President Theodore Roosevelt, and offers a solid selection of presidential biographies and political nonfiction. The shop’s collection of contemporary literature is equally impressive: best-selling novels, memoirs and classics can be found and a children’s section is tucked away at the back, with a children’s lounge area and teddy bears. stuffed toy. “My grandson thinks it all belongs to him,” Israel says.
The store hosts book clubs, children’s activities and author events like the one with actor Ralph Macchio tied to his memoir at the Madison Theater in Rockville Center on October 17.
Many former Book Revue staffers have taken refuge here, and Israel, a novelist himself, can also be found mostly tidying the shelves. “Even during my days in Congress,” Israel says, “books were my true love.”
A book place
469 Main Street E.
Jocelyn Maningo Kaleita, a second-generation librarian from East Moriches, had dreamed of owning a bookstore for years. When the owner of the waterfront restaurant, Jerry and the Mermaid, suggested the store next door, Kaleita knew it was perfect. A hallway connects the restaurant and bookstore, and patrons looking for the bathroom sometimes stumble into the book room. “One of them came the other day and was amazed,” Kaleita says. “He said it was like stepping into Narnia!”
In addition to a mix of children’s and adult titles, the store has a section featuring books about books, and it plans to support self-published authors from nearby towns. “I imagine this store will be as local as possible,” says Kaleita.
The Torn Bard’s Bookstore
250 Larkfield Road.
Poet and small-press publisher James Wagner has been hosting poetry readings and book launches across the island for over a dozen years. During the pandemic, many cafes and event spaces that hosted these events have closed. “I’ve wanted to have a place for some time, a permanent place where poets could make their own,” says Wagner, a resident of Northport. “During COVID, half of the stores were vacant. I found this place and fell in love.
The shop’s name is inspired by Wagner’s poetry collective, The Bards, and a bookstore called The Dogeared that was once located in town. Wagner’s shop offers used and antique books, from science fiction and fantasy to mystery and memoirs, with tables dedicated to local poets. The former nail salon also includes a stage for poetry readings and open-mic nights.
In October, the shop celebrates its first anniversary. “We’re anticipating an extravagant week-long sale,” says Wagner. “We are ready to celebrate!”
The next chapter
187 Park Ave, Huntington (moving to 204 New York Ave. expected in November)
When Book Revue, the Huntington bookstore where Mallory Braun had worked for five years, closed last summer, no one could have imagined that fairy tale ending: After spearheading a hugely successful Kickstarter-backed effort, Braun got a place a few doors down from Book Revue for its new boutique, The Next Chapter.
Braun hopes to have the new location up and running by November. In September, she runs a pop-up bookstore in a cottage in Huntington Harbor. Braun plans to keep the pop-ups around the island going even after The Next Chapter’s permanent home opens.
“Book Revue has been around for 44 years and has left a huge hole in the Long Island bookstore landscape. People have been working from home for a few years now and realize the importance of being involved in their community,” says Braun. “And there’s no better place to find community than your local bookstore.”