How Community Helps to Shape Strand Bookstore


Strand Bookstore is situated on the corner of New York City’s Broadway and East 12th Street. It is nestled in the 8 blocks between Union Square Park and Washington Square Park. On the map, the bookstore is shown as a little teal star. When I was exploring the neighborhood, I concentrated on the eight blocks in between the two parks. I looked at all the different stores and eateries, as well as defining landmarks. Some of the defining landmarks included the two parks labeled with yellow pins, New York University which is labeled with a magenta star, two movie theaters labeled with blue pins and Grace Church and School labeled with two green pins.

The presence of New York University suggests that this area of Manhattan is partly geared towards college students. Where there are college students, there is usually an abundance of bookstores, coffee shops, and art galleries. I have labeled some of these on the map with red squares. There is even a coffee shop called The Bean, located across the street from Strand. The amount of coffee shops in the area makes it an ideal place for college students to hang out or go exploring. The idea can be applied when it comes to the two movie theaters. Not only do movie theaters attract college students, they also attract families that live in the area.

I have heard of both Washington Square Park and Union Square park. I have seen them in movies like August Rush as well as various TV shows and on postcards. These parks are important to the neighborhood because they not only bring families with children but also tourists. There is a constant flow of people in downtown Manhattan and most of them, according to the 2014 census, are between 20 and 40 years old. This is the ideal age group for a bookstore like Strand. On the map there are also brown squares labeling places like children’s clothing stores, antique shops and banks. These are stores cover a wide range of age, so though the area might be investing in the high population of 20-40 year old’s, there are also businesses that cater to both younger and older generations.

The design of Strand Bookstore is both homey as well as standardized. In chapter four of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, Miller talks about how modern chain bookstores are becoming more standardized rather than homey like independent bookstores. Strand has bookshelves lining the sidewalks, as well as little quirks like a basement full of used books, which gives it more of that homey, independent bookstore feel that certain types of consumers are drawn towards. On the main floor of Strand the design is a bit more standardized, with end caps bought out by publishers and a floor plan that is meant to draw consumers in. These standardized design aspects draw in consumers that are less likely to enjoy an independent bookstore and more likely to feel comfortable in a chain bookstore.

Strand is a middle ground between the community and the businesses around it. The bookstore brings business to places around it like the coffee shop The Bean, which I mentioned earlier. The fact that the Strand is across the street most likely significantly raises the profits of The Bean. I think it is more effective having a coffee shop outside of the bookstore, unlike Barnes and Noble and Starbucks, because it gives businesses the chance to create a lasting relationship that can be good for both their individual profits as well as the community as a whole. Without The Bean to help support it, Strand Bookstore would not have as much of a social influence in its community as it has today.

Additionally, Strand has a book kiosk on the edge of Union Square Park, which further raises their sales and publicity in terms of targeting the kinds of consumers present in their community. Strand Bookstore is in the kind of neighborhood that is ideal for all ages. Although the area mostly concentrates on college students, families and tourists, there is something for everyone. This was a strategic move for Strand, since they used to be in a neighborhood farther north in downtown Manhattan that didn’t have as much of a variety when it came to stores in and around the community.





Google Maps: Strand Bookstore, The Bean Coffee Shop



Miller, Laura J. Reluctant Capitalists Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2006. Print

Morley, Christopher. “Escaped Into Print.” Ex Libris Carissimus. New York: A. S. Barnes. Print.