Today we are talking with Michelle Chen of WORD Bookstores.
RD: Please give us a short description of your store.
MC: WORD is an independent bookstore serving two amazing communities in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and in Jersey City. We carry a carefully curated selection of books that span across all categories and genres–picture books, YA, history, romance, literary fiction, travel, etc–and we live to pair our loyal customers with their can’t-put-it-down read of the week, or an exciting recipe from their new go-to cookbook. But we don’t just sell books! Our events calendar is always packed full with large-scale book launches, in-store readings, storytime, book clubs, and even knitting meet-ups. Grab a coffee and croissant from our Jersey City cafe and sit down to read or chat books with friends. We are your local bookstore in the truest sense of the term; our space is your space! Visit our website at: http://www.wordbookstores.com/
RD: Have digital devices and apps changed how people use notebooks?
MC: With digital devices, the roles of physical notebooks, notepads, and planners have just become more clearly delineated from their electronic counterparts. It depends entirely on personal preferences, of course, but each individual might find that paper is better suited for doing certain things than digital, and vice versa. At WORD, of course our staff uses email, but we also have a deeply ingrained system of communication via post-its, bulletin boards, and carrier pigeons.
RD: What do you see as the future of notebooks?
MC: Digital devices don’t have to be, and often aren’t, the enemy of paper. Journal and stationery sales continue to be strong because there will always be something that an app like Evernote, can’t quite satisfy. And not just for the luddites of the world, we promise! Customers still come in looking for the perfectly-sized notebook to stick in their pocket, or the perfect pen to use to jot down their thoughts and sketches when they’re riding the subway, and the fact that this continues even in the age of the iPhone is promising to say the least.
RD: Why do (some) people continue to use paper in a digital world?
MC: To some degree there’s a bit of nostalgia involved in the good-old-fashioned way of doing things. And, it’s just plain comforting to put pen to paper. Most of us would agree that a handwritten note is infinitely more personal than a typed memo, in the same way that dog-earing a page on your favorite worn paperback is very different than hitting a “bookmark” button on an e-reader.
RD: How do people “discover” paper and notebooks now that so many stationery and office supply stores have disappeared?
MC: Through the independent bookstore! I joke, but only a little. Stationery and books go hand in hand, and if you’re looking for something new, something more bespoke than, say, the typical selection of cards and journals at CVS, then your best bet is probably your local indie. When someone comes in just to browse our book selection, chances are they’ll also end up checking out our stationery.
RD: Any additional comments or observations that you would like to add?
MC: Think back to the days of Lisa Frank. Notebooks are fun!