RIFFRAFF: Providence Bookstore, Coffeeshop, and Bar

RIFFRAFF: Providence Bookstore, Coffeeshop, and Bar

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Riffraff is Providence, Rhode Island’s newest literary haunt, a relaxed, open space where shoppers can choose between a popular cookbook and the newest Indonesian novel translated into English, then settle down with a themed drink to dive into its pages. The establishment is owned by translator Emma Ramadan and former editor, publicist, and publisher Tom Roberge, and the duo’s literary backgrounds permeate Riffraff’s stock to create a heartfelt, unique selection of both international and domestic literary voices that are sure to spark conversation and cultivate community—like as not, over a pint.

Aaliya's Books

Aaliya's Books

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

On any given night at Aaliya's, a Beirut-based bookstore, you might encounter Gaelic dancing, a jazz quartet, or half-priced nightcaps. For Aaliya's founders, the space is as much community gathering point as it is bookstore: a place to celebrate creatives and the work they produce. Always on offer is a seasonal lunch or a snack from the café, a wide selection of drinks at the bar, and—of course—an excellently-chosen selection of English-language new and used books.

Librairie des Colonnes

Librairie des Colonnes

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Located in Tangier, the Librairie des Colonnes is a Moroccan literary institution that has been known to attract major writers from all over the world, including Samuel Beckett, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams. Today, the bookstore remains a vital part of literary life in Morocco and beyond through not only the wide variety of books it offers in numerous languages, but also through its role as a publishing house and Nejma, its affiliated literary magazine.

In this feature, we speak with bookstore director Simon-Pierre Hamelin about the store’s past and present, and the work he’s doing now to create literary and cultural links between the global centers of Arabic publishing.

Bleak House Books

Bleak House Books

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Founded in February 2017, Bleak House Books is the brainchild of husband and wife pair Albert Wan and Jenny Smith. Located in San Po Kong, Kowloon in Hong Kong, the bookshop offers visitors a carefully curated selection of new and used English language books (as well as vintage comics and sheet music!), and acts as a refuge for local and foreign booklovers alike. Books are available for purchase on the shop’s website, which also features striking art from Bleak House Books’ talented “Artist in Residence,” Vicky Nunn.

In this feature, we talk with co-owner Albert Wan about building community, promoting local authors, and what it really means to get the “Bleak House Books Treatment.”

Books Actually

Books Actually

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Located in Singapore’s Tiong Bahru district, BooksActually is an independent bookstore that offers a plethora of options to engage with literature and the surrounding community: from local authors to best-sellers, from poetry readings to mini exhibitions, pop-up stores to book fairs, a boutique publishing house to a book vending machine. Established by Kenny Leck and Karen Wei in 2005, BooksActually has now become a significant advocate for Singapore’s literary culture.

The Wild Detectives

The Wild Detectives

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

The Wild Detectives is a place where you can order a book, and instead of paying shipping, the owners will buy you a drink when you come to pick it up. This bookstore-bar venue first took root in conversations between two Spanish civil engineers, Javier García del Moral and Paco Vique, who wanted to create a space for bar-inspired conversations and books to collide. Since opening in 2014, they’ve been lauded by D Magazine as Best Bookstore for 3 consecutive years, were invited to give a TedTalk at University of Texas in Arlington, and launched a #LitBait campaign that went viral.

Albertine: A French Bookstore in New York

Albertine: A French Bookstore in New York

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Since 1952, the Payne Whitney mansion on Fifth Avenue has housed the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, but the building wasn't open to the public until 2014, with the launch of Albertine, a bookshop devoted exclusively to books in French and English.

"What I really like is it doesn’t feel like a bookstore. Or it doesn’t feel commercial—it feels like a private library. And the ceiling is beautiful. It's based off the music room ceiling at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany. So people feel invited to come and stay. It’s a kind of nest or heaven."

DC's Capitol Hill Books: Please Read the Signs

DC's Capitol Hill Books: Please Read the Signs

TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE: CONVERSATIONS WITH INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES NEAR & FAR

Jim Toole has owned DC's Capitol Hill Books for 23 years, and while his three-story, secondhand bookstore has been named one of America's "10 Beautiful Bookshops for Bibliophiles" and "10 Best Bookstores in DC," Toole has earned a title as well: "DC's Most Curmudgeonly Store Owner."

In honor of AWP 2017, February's TRAVEL BY BOOKSTORE is going to Washington. Take an advance tour of one of our capital's literary landmarks here, but when you visit in person, please, be sure to read the signs.