A year ago this week we had just finished moving 25,000 books up the street, in order, by hand. We had just designed a bookstore, seen it built, dismantled another one, stayed up late arranging and rearranging furniture, got the shelves set just in time, given back the old keys, figured out where all the books go, moved most of them three times at least, stood around the night before opening day drinking double margaritas from Alembic and trying not to worry about tomorrow.
A bookstore is always a work in progress. Seasons and books and people and time move in and out of a bookstore constantly, and as long as some people keep writing books and some other people keep reading them it’s a draft that’s never done. It’s a collaboration, a draft that takes many people to write.
A bookstore is also an assemblage of wood and paper and nails and paint and glue and concrete and wires and love and glass and hope. So this week, we’re celebrating one year since we finished moving the draft of the Booksmith, along with all of its wood and paper and hope and love and concrete, into a new phase of itself.
Our new home is more welcoming, beautiful, rewarding, mysterious, and uniquely human than we ever could have hoped. There’s a lot of human touch here and there’s also the lemon tree in the backyard that blooms three seasons of the year; the office window above the garden and the rainy days when the roof becomes a birdbath; the gently haunted magic of living in a building that used to be a movie theater; Carol Doda’s signature on plaster in the back hall; the rhythm and life of the bar next door where our friends work, too; the sunsets we run outside to catch when the sky’s towering over the cypress trees at the end of the park; the way Thursdays are garlic roasting day at the pizza shop; the dance parties on the sales floor; the dogs, the dogs, the dogs.
Booksmith has always been a shop that tries to provide a lived shape for things like curiosity, discovery, and happenstance. We want to be a place where you can read poetry as easily as throw a party—maybe at the same time. A haven for weirdos, a space for dreaming, a place that maintains room for life to keep happening. A kind of studio.
This is a note to say thank you, deeply, to everyone—our staff, who are the heart and brains and hands of what we do; our neighbors, readers, dogs, authors, contractors, artists, wanderers—who are now writing this draft of the Booksmith together. Thank you. And happy birthday, baby.
Camden and the Booksmith crew