Late this spring, a new independent bookstore, Bookends and Beginnings, will debut in the downtown Evanston space well known to a generation of book-lovers as legendary antiquarian bookstore Bookman’s Alley.
“Our goal is to create a vibrant cultural destination and hub of book-centered community for both adults and children,” says owner and author Nina Barrett, radio personality and longtime Evanston resident. “Evanston has always supported an array of wonderful used, antiquarian, and specialty bookshops, but we think the time is right for a more substantial-sized, knowledgeably curated, general-interest store.”
Ms. Barrett says the shop will offer new, used and specially discounted books, with particular emphasis on titles that will appeal to Evanston’s highly educated and multi-ethnic population.
Ms. Barrett has published essays and reviews in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Publishers Weekly and other publications. Also a trained chef and two-time James Beard Award winner for her food reporting for Chicago radio station WBEZ, Ms. Barrett says she plans to make the cooking section “a destination for cooks and food lovers.” Ms. Barrett’s husband Jeffrey Garrett, recently retired academic research librarian, will curate several sections, drawing on his experience in rare books, specialized collections, European publishing and international children’s literature.
Bookends & Beginnings will also host readings, discussions, story times, puppet shows and workshops. “Sometimes,” Ms. Barrett says, “what changes your life or your day is one new idea, or an interesting conversation you have with a stranger.”
Ms. Barrett notes that the past two decades have been brutal for independent stores. Independent bookstores seem, however, to be making a comeback. Sources including NPR and The Washington Post have noted a “renaissance” of independent bookselling.
“Book-lovers have started to recognize what’s been lost when there’s no exciting physical place where they can congregate, browse, think, and talk,” she says. “And we’re confident that if any community can support that kind of a business in the face of today’s challenges, Evanston can,” Ms. Barrett says.
Ms. Barrett and Mr. Garrett invite the community to share ideas, hopes and wishes for the new store at the Bookends & Beginnings Facebook page.