Friday, October 29, 2010
Inside Indie Bookstores: McNally Jackson Books in New York City
Poets & Writers
.In a recent New York magazine article about the renaissance of indie bookstores in the city, Joe Keohane wrote, “New York’s independent bookshops were supposed to be long gone by now. After a decade of slow financial strangulation at the hands of the big-box stores, the web, the Kindle, and, finally, the recession, the fact that there are still Strands and McNally Jacksons standing seems positively miraculous.”
Yet what is interesting about this article is not just the fact that new stores are opening and thriving in the city, but that McNally Jackson Books is likened to an institution like the Strand, which has been in business since 1927.
Although Sarah McNally’s bookstore at 52 Prince Street in Manhattan certainly feels as though it’s always been a part of the New York City literary scene, the truth is that it was founded only six years ago, in December 2004.
Credit: Jeremiah Chamberlin
Perhaps part of the store’s sense of legacy has to do with the fact that McNally herself comes from a bookselling family. Her parents own several McNally Robinson bookstores in Canada—the flagship store in Winnipeg, and another in Saskatoon. In fact, though always owned and operated by Sarah, the store in New York City originally opened as a McNally Robinson. It became McNally Jackson in August 2008, both to end confusion about the store being independent from those run by her parents and to commemorate the birth of her child with her then husband, Christopher Jackson, executive editor at Spiegel & Grau.
It’s also clear that this store is an integral part of the fabric of this neighborhood. It’s located in a vibrant area of lower Manhattan—though technically in NoLita (North of Little Italy), it’s also on the eastern fringe of SoHo (South of Houston)—that is filled with boutiques, hip coffee shops, and trendy restaurants. On the Thursday morning that I showed up, there were already several people waiting for the place to open. One person sat casually on a bench outside the bookstore’s café, others chatted together on the sidewalk, and a few peered in the front windows at the beautiful display of arranged books.
Full story at Poets & Writers.