Little City Books will be Hoboken’s first independent bookstore since the closure of BlackWater Books in 1999. When Barnes and Noble closed its doors in 2010, Hoboken’s non-profit second hand bookstore Symposia Books has managed to stick around, giving the community its much needed literary fix, but now Little City Books is coming in to fill in the rest of that void. Little City Books will be opening on May 2—Independent Bookstore Day—on the corner of 1st and Bloomfield, offering an eclectic inventory of new books which will grow and evolve with the demands of the community. I spoke with Kate Jacobs, one of the bookstore’s three owners, to learn more about Little City Books and the people making it happen.
What motivated you all to open a bookstore?
KJ: It’s a great time for indie bookstores. Borders closing and Barnes and Noble shrinking has left space for indies to come back. The Shop Local movement is also helping. Print sales are up, while e-book sales are flat. And we love small, independent bookstores. We remember hanging out in them when we were little, discovering new books and making those prized purchases. Hoboken had Blackwater Books in the 90s and it was great — a wonderful place to browse, chat, read, and shop. We think it’s time to have a place like that again in our community.
What do each of you bring to the table as business owners?
KJ: Donna [Garban] has a banking background, so she’s doing numbers and inventory management and insurance etc. Emmanuelle [Morgen] is a literary agent who brings a wealth of knowledge and contacts from the publishing industry. And I’m a musician who’s been engaged with cultural activities in town for many years. We are all devoted Hoboken residents.
How do you want Little City Books to stand out among other bookstores and the alternative to bookstores (ie. Internet marketplaces)?
KJ: Hoboken is such a walking town — we’re not competing with anything else you can walk to. We want to be Hoboken’s local, general interest bookstore for new books. We’ll serve and reflect our unique population. Obviously we can’t compete with Amazon’s pricing. We have to charge cover price for our books to be able to pay our rent and pay our staff, and our taxes, etc. For that cover price customers will be putting money back into the local economy and supporting free events like storytime, book clubs, and author readings. Next year we plan to open an uptown branch and install a kiosk at the train station, and have a cart in the parks, fairs and markets.
Your Publisher’s Weekly article mentioned an Indiegogo campaign. Will there still be some sort of crowd-funding?
KJ: We launched our Indiegogo campaign yesterday! We’re confident that we’ll have the local support to raise enough money to finish building out the store. A bookstore is more than a place to shop. It’s a place to meet people as well as learn and contribute and attend cultural events and community gatherings. It’s something to build, and be a part of. We have some remarkable incentives for donating to the fundraiser, including a number of exclusive editor and agent manuscript critiques for writers. The publishing community has been tremendously generous!
Little City Books is planned to open on May 2. Is there anything special planned for the grand opening?
KJ: We think just opening is pretty special! We’ve invited the Mayor to come cut the ribbon, and we’ll have snacks and special opening day discounts.