Second Story Books
2000 P St NW,
Washington, DC 20036
Second Story Books
The first time I went into Second Story Books was in 1982. There was a glass bookcase facing the front door full of rare books (it looked to be under lock and key, not that I checked), racks of low priced Dover books, and shelves and shelves of used books. Not that much has changed since then, though there isn't a separated area for Dover anymore, and the valuable rare book cases move around (so does the cash register. Sometimes the register is near the front door and looks barricaded for protection, but my most recent visit, it had moved again and looked more like a miniature version of the register set-up at the Rockville Second Story Books warehouse which features a friendlier, open-air arrangement).
What has changed is the paucity of book stores in DC in general. Crown, Books-A-Million, Ollson's, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and so many other smaller operations and the (at one time) innumerable gift shops that carried a selection of books have either completely disappeared or have been reduced to a fraction of what once was. At one time I could walk from Dupont Circle to Geargetown and hit a dozen different book stores in the process, but no more.
Indicating how much has changed in the decades, consider that there was once a book bindery near Farragut Park, but it has long since departed. The occasional spread of guerrilla sidewalk book sales have also slid into the antique past. For me, Second Story's persistence seems to indicate there is yet a hard core group of customers who want to hold a physical object to read that isn't the ever present 21st century digital device.
Original page April 2019
This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America's Gilded Capital
Photos by Erik Weems - web site