New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Accept the Invitation

I have always loved bookstores. A great wave of comfort comes over me when I enter one - all of those books with the wisdom of the ages just waiting to be tapped.
When traveling, I have found a city or town's bookstore a good barometer of a place: the type of bookstore, atmosphere, inventory, patrons, and perhaps most importantly whether a town has a bookstore at all. A small town with one or more bookstores says a lot about a community. They have a lot of readers. I grew up in a blue collar town of 40,000 people with no bookstore to be found. Moving to New York City was like nirvana.

When I first moved here, there were no bookstore cafes. It was rumored that somewhere out West, perhaps in Boulder, Colorado, there was a place where one could sit, read, relax, and even have snacks and beverages. But this was really a dream, a mirage. Certainly such a phenomenon would never come to pass in New York City, where magazine stands posted signs "No Reading."
Now bookstore cafes are a standard - customers expect them, along with unlimited browsing, reading, WiFi access, and laptop use. People park themselves for hours with stacks of books and magazines, often making notes or studying. The bookstore has become a library of sorts.

One of the most inviting spaces is Housing Works Bookstore Cafe at 126 Crosby Street in SoHo, a used bookstore, literary hub, and concert/events venue. The bookstore is stocked entirely by donated books, music, and movies and staffed primarily with volunteers. See more photos here.

Apart from the bookstore cafe, Housing Works runs a chain of nine thrift shops (with lots of used designer clothing), a catering company, and a screen printing business as social enterprises to support their work and reduce their dependence on grants and donations. Earned income from these businesses accounts for approximately 90 percent of their revenue.

Housing Works, Inc. is the largest community based AIDS organization in the United States and operates more than 50 facilities in the five boroughs of New York City, Albany, NY, and Washington, DC.
Housing Works was founded in 1990 by Keith Cylar, Charles King, Eric Sawyer, and Virginia Shubert. The organization has provided housing, medical and mental health care, meals, job training, drug treatment, HIV prevention education, and social support to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. Learn more at their website here.

The colors are so warm and the atmosphere so inviting - why not accept the invitation?


hokgardner said...

I love bookstores with a passion. My dream is to some day work in a used bookstore like this. I'm putting it on my list of places to visit the next time I get to New York.

Cerulean Bill said...

God, I saw that first picture and just SMILED.....very, very nice.

Kelly said...

Brian, I follow your blog from Denver, Colo. I love NYC and this gives me a window into your city each day. Thank you! Yes, there are two such bookstores in Colorado - The Tattered Cover in Denver - FABULOUS bookstore, your photo reminds me of it. And the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo. both serve drinks and food and you can sit and read and drink coffee all day!

Will Hennessy said...

I'm with you there. I get the same exact feeling. Well said...

Brian Dubé said...

Cerulean Bill - thanks.
Kelly - The West was way ahead in this type of thing.
Will - thanks.

moe lauher said...

Thanks for the beautiful photographs and the information about Housing Works, Inc. I am slowly working my way though your archive. I'm a big fan of "Daily Photo" blogs.

alex said...

So surprising to see the bookstore that my wife and I loved so much when we visited NYC !
" Une très bonne adresse".
Thanks for your blog.

Accidental Londoner said...

Housing Works is one of my favourite bookstores - worth crossing the Atlantic for. Wonderful chocolate brownies in the cafe too!

jus me... said...

A bookstore with that special smell of books and books packed to the ceiling... wooden tables and a cup of coffee... god i miss such places!!! They've converted most bookstores in my city to "no reading" zones :-(