Astoria, Literary
Jan 31, 2018

Astoria Bookshop is a Finalist in the 2018 PW Bookstore of the Year

Big congrats, Astoria Bookshop!

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Last week we heard the good news—the Astoria Bookshop has been chosen by Publishers Weekly as a finalist for the 2018 PW Bookstore of the Year Award. The award has been given each year for the past 25 years, so it’s a well-established honor. This is a big deal and we are really excited for them, and hope they emerge as the winner; we know the bookstore has a huge fanbase in the neighborhood and know there are many people rooting for them.

“This year’s finalists for the 2018 PW Bookstore of the Year Award are representative of the diverse stores that have contributed to today’s indie bookstore revival,” said Cevin Bryerman, executive v-p and publisher of Publishers Weekly. “Many have deep roots in a specific region, but they have also had a big impact on the book industry well beyond those borders. Each has found creative solutions to making bookstores meaningful in a changing world.”

Being A Finalist

We asked Lexi Beach, owner of the Astoria Bookstore, about the award and being a finalist. The first thing we were wondering is how she felt when she got the news of Astoria Bookshop’s finalist status. “I was delighted and frankly astonished to get the call from Publishers Weekly that we were one of the five finalists for Bookstore of the Year,” she explains. “Eligibility is only open to stores that have been in business for at least four years, and we only passed that milestone five months ago. But by any standard, it’s a huge honor. I have great admiration for my colleagues at bookstores here in NYC and all over the country, and to be counted among them as one of the best is thrilling and humbling.”

As to what she thinks makes Astoria Bookshop a standout, she mentions their devotion to the Astoria community and all the wonderfully diverse demographics within. “I work very hard to tailor our inventory to what our customers are looking for,” she remarks. She notes that the needs and desires of their customer base often changes from month to month as new authors emerge, new trends become apparent, school curricula change, as well as the fact that their customer base continues to grow. All of these aspects help her to make relevant choices that satisfy and excite her customers.

She adds, “My staff are amazing book lovers who are so good at helping every customer find just the right book, no matter the occasion. And Zora, our events coordinator (and Kisky before her), is equally determined to bring in authors and other events programming that will be interesting and engaging to the neighborhood.”

Giving Back To Astoria

She also tells us that it’s been a priority from the Shop’s early days to give back to the community—this is done through donations to raffles for local schools, offering discounts to local book clubs, and fundraising campaigns like their ongoing “Blind Date with a Book” promotion. She’s also implemented less conventional strategies like selling Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me at cost for the first two months it was out. “As a small business, my margins are small but I have a lot of personal control over what books to promote and where to throw a little money when we have it,” she says.

You, like us, may wonder if winning the award will cause them to make any changes at the bookshop. Lexi explains: “We are always changing, evolving, shifting to meet the needs of the neighborhood. I hope that we get a little better every day. Winning an award or not won’t change that goal.”

Upcoming Events

If you haven’t been by lately, we encourage you to head over and spend a little time with a great selection of books. And if you are looking for more than browsing, here are few upcoming events of note mentioned by Lexi:

Congrats again, Astoria Bookshop, for being named as a finalist for this wonderful award! The winner will be announced in late March and also featured in the pre-BookExpo edition of Publishers Weekly magazine. The awards will be presented at BookExpo over at the Javits Center.

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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