June 8, 2011

You Never Know What Will Pop Up


When the Borders branch in Pittsburgh closed a few months ago, locals feared the building would be vacant indefinitely, but before long, its shelves were full again—and with books!

Photo by Karen Lillis, via Karen the Small Press Librarian blog


On May 7th, Fleeting Pages opened in the abandoned Borders building. But instead of selling bestsellers, the store’s specialty was independent and self-published writing. Books, journals, zines, graphic novels, comics, magazines, eBooks, book art—they all had a place as did events and workshops. According to organizer Jodi Morrison and company:

The idea is a result of a few things; the toll taken on local booksellers by big box bookstores, a concern for the cultural effects of big box stores in both their existence and their failure, a general frustration with the model of the publishing industry, and a great appreciation for independent and self-published works of all kinds, as well as for those who create them.

We felt compelled to do something. Fleeting Pages is what we came up with. It will test the theory that what is happening with “books”—creation, consumption, access—matters to many.

Fleeting Pages is just one of a host of “pop-up” bookstores. The catch? It’s only temporary. Though the community responded enthusiastically to their new literary haven, the store closed almost as suddenly as it had opened. True to its name, Fleeting Pages closed its doors on June 4th, but not before they sold over 2,700 books—not too bad for a store that did virtually no advertising or marketing.

Want to see a pop-up for yourself? If you’re in the New York area, head over to Word Up, located in a vacant Curewell Drugs in Washington Heights starting on the opening day: Tuesday, June 14th. Just make sure you get there soon!

Word Up is the project of Veronica Liu, the managing editor of Seven Stories Press. You can check them out on Facebook.