Downtown Columbia is about to get a second independent booktore — at a location very close to Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street, which has been in business for five years.
But before you imagine you’re going to have to choose one over the other, know that the hope is you’ll go to both and help create a thriving literary “corner” of Columbia.
That’s what Columbia novelist and Unbound Book Festival founder Alex George envisions for the new Unbound Books, which he says will open late this summer. Unbound will be an independent bookstore — George asked that the exact location of the new bookstore not be disclosed just yet — and George sees it as complementary to the three-year-old book festival.
George said he hopes the relationship with Yellow Dog will be collaborative, and he and Yellow Dog owner Joe Chevalier are already well-acquainted. Chevalier is planning to sell books at the festival this year, George said.
“My view is that we will complement each other,” George said. “It will be nice to think that Ninth Street will become a destination for book buyers, and certainly if we don’t have a book in stock then my first suggestion will be to send them next door to see if Joe has it.”
Chevalier agrees that new and used bookstores can make a nice pairing. When he was a manager at a large independent bookstore in California, there were two other thriving used bookstores nearby, he said.
“I am excited to see an independent new bookstore coming to downtown Columbia,” Chevalier said in an email. “Columbia is a highly literate community, and I like to think it can keep all the bookstores in town afloat.”
Columbia has other bookstores near downtown, including Adams Walls of Books on north Eighth Street and Peace Nook on Broadway. The chain Barnes & Noble has a store at Columbia Mall.
George said the success of the Unbound Book Festival emboldened him to open Unbound Books. Festival attendees commented that opening an independent bookstore would be “the last piece in the jigsaw,” George said.
The 3,000-square-foot store will also create a space where authors can do readings and host book signings, and where community members can join a book club or meet with their own group, George said.
“One of the great things about bookstores as opposed to online retailers is that personal connection you are able to make with booksellers or with authors,” George said.
Carrie Koepke, who George said has years of experience in book stores, will be a manager at Unbound Books. George said they attended a conference in January, and were inspired by the American-Dominican writer Junot Diaz to provide Columbia a retail space stocked with more diverse authors.
“Diverse books are becoming critically important, and it is important children are able to open a book and see themselves within the pages of that book,” George said. “That is not always the case, but it needs to be and it’s something we are committed to.”
Unbound Book Festival begins April 19, and author Zadie Smith will give the keynote the evening of April 20 at the Missouri Theatre.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed