New Indie Bookshop Opening Near Eastern Market

Future home of East City Bookshop

Future home of East City Bookshop

645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

New Indie Bookshop Opening Near Eastern Market

by Larry Janezich

Capitol resident Laurie Gillman will open a new indie bookshop at 645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, this spring. The shop is planning a grand opening celebration the weekend of April 30 which will continue through Sunday, May 1, coinciding with this year’s Literary Hill Bookfest at Eastern Market.  A soft opening is planned for the first few weeks of April.  The announcement is in keeping with the quiet revival of independent book sellers in an era which has seen the closing of one chain bookstore outlet after another.  Gillman says, of the 3,200 square foot space, “It will be great to have East City Bookshop, Labyrinth, and Capitol Hill Frame & Photo together as a bright spot of retail in the neighborhood.”

According to the shop’s website, East City Bookshop will cater to book lovers of all ages.  The shop will compete with on-line booksellers by focusing on community engagement – providing “top-notch” customer service, a venue for author events, and space for hosting book clubs in in the shop’s lounge space.  In addition, East City Bookshop will feature letterpress cards, a curated selection of prints, and locally made items.  Gillman says, “We will have online sales and they are pretty speedy.  We will never be able to compete with Amazon on price, but indie bookstores offer so many other things like real people and customer service – we will focus on those…. I’m learning that there are plenty of people who prefer to pay a few more dollars and support their neighborhood businesses.”

Asked what brought her to the decision to open a bookstore on Capitol Hill, Gillman says, “About a year ago, I realized that I was annoyed by the fact that I had to leave the neighborhood to go to a bookstore….Then I became a little obsessed by the idea of an indie bookstore in my neighborhood.  I couldn’t let it go….”  She chose the name East City Bookshop, because she wants to serve the eastern side of the city, where there are no general interest bookstores.  The new store recalls Trovers Books, the much-loved 50 year community institution at 221 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, which closed in August, 2009.

The new outlet will be the third bookseller on Capitol Hill, joining Capitol Hill Books, a used book store on at 657 C Street, SE, and Riverby Books, at 417 East Capitol.  The Fairy Godmother, at 319 7th Street, SE, is a children’s bookstore that has served Capitol Hill for some 30 years.  East City Books sees room for a customer base not served by any of these outlets.

For more on East City Bookshop, see the website here:



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8 responses to “New Indie Bookshop Opening Near Eastern Market

  1. Mary Fraker

    Wonderful news!

  2. Maggie Hall

    To echo Mark Fraker: totally wonderful news. Like so many I have constantly mourned the closure of Trovers. And what a grand community welcome awaits East City Bookshop and Laurie Gillman via The Literary Hill Bookfest! Thanks Laurie for doing this!

  3. Generally, that little building, which is a “new” and poorly designed building in the place of an old theater, doesn’t work very well for retail. Of course, it’s exacerbated by the fact that the block is 2x the size of a typical DC block. Hopefully a super well programmed business can break the cycle. Although I won’t be particularly hopeful.

    Upshur Books is very very small, but is highly visible and has a great large storefront window, and is integrated with the business operations of two restaurants owned by the same group–those businesses are next door and across the street, which help to drive customer traffic to the store.

    There is a new used bookstore on Georgia Ave., but I haven’t been able to check it out yet.

    Anyway, I hope the store will do well regardless. “Books are our friends.”

    • Be hopeful! Despite the, shall we say–quirkiness–and drawbacks of the space, it is surprisingly workable and in an excellent location. Be sure to come check it out when we’re open, and thanks for your interest!

  4. Hannah Fischer

    Just wanted to say — I’m so excited about this! I love bookstores like Kramerbooks and Politics and Prose, but like you have been annoyed that I have to go on a trek to get to them. I definitely think there are a lot of readers around here to support you! Thanks for bringing this to the neighborhood.

  5. Ellen Opper-Weiner

    Great News! I have been hoping we would have a book store selling new books in the neighborhood again. Thanks.

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