Sé Reed Rethinks the Modern Bookstore for the Latest Incarnation of OPEN

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Photo via Open's Facebook page.

Three years ago, Long Beach lost a literary landmark. Many remember {open} as a vibrant bookstore, art gallery, and event space. After nine glorious years in business—and being named the city's Best Bookstore by Long Beach Post readers—{open} closed its doors in 2012.

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"I'm not throwing in the towel. I kind of… need a bigger towel,” Reed told the Post at the time.

This Friday, {open}—now simply “Open”—makes its long-overdue comeback as the "book" half of "Long Beach’s first book bar," The Brass Lamp.

“Open is not a bookstore in the traditional sense,” Reed told the Post in a recent interview. “I don’t want to replicate a process that already exists… I’m calling it a 'literary art installation piece.'"

Open is a bookstore distilled. “For someone who's not as much of an avid reader, even going to a Barnes & Noble can be daunting,” she said. “There're so many titles.”

More and more, Reed continued, people rely on content aggregators like The Huffington Post to filter good content from bad.

“Open is providing that filter. It's like a gateway drug,” Reed laughed. “A gateway bookstore!”

The new Open will feature a smaller, but carefully-curated range of books. “It’ll be ever-changing,” she said.

Open will feature a permanent collection—a roster of select titles that will remain in stock—as well as a rotating selection from local experts in various fields.

These books will be "hand-picked by people I've hand-picked! I've curated the curators!" Reed said enthusiastically.

Perhaps most exciting, though, is Reed’s inventory of beautiful used books, each with its own unique story.

“I have this awesome copy of Oil! by Upton Sinclair from 1927,” she said. “That took place in Signal Hill! I want people here in Long Beach to read that.”

There's no doubt that online retail has changed the way we buy books. “Bookstores were becoming showrooms,” said Reed. “You go, you check it out, then you go online and buy stuff.”

Rather than try to fight this widespread shift in how we consume literature, Reed has embraced it.

“Each book has a link to my website… and on the site is a link to Amazon,” said Reed.

From there, people can choose from a variety of formats and editions, and Open receives a small percentage through the Amazon Affiliate program. If one finds a particular book too seductive an object to pass up, Open will be happy to sell it to you on the spot.

"The idea behind what I'm doing is getting people to read these books," said Reed.

On The Brass Lamp/Open’s new status as roommates, Reed said, “it all just fit together really nicely… Samantha [Argosino] came along, described the concept, and I was like, 'Yeah. That's the concept.’”

While Open and The Brass Lamp remain independent as businesses, together they form a singular community space for Long Beach to come together over its loves of literature, art, music and fine libations.

In addition to The Brass Lamp’s events—including wine/chocolate pairings and live music—Open will be hosting its own events.

“Not on an ongoing all-the-time basis,” said Reed, “it's going to be more selective, just like the books.” Open’s first event, a reading featuring internationally-renowned slam poet Buddy Wakefield, is in the works at time of writing.

Open’s opening celebration is at 8:00 PM on Friday, October 23 at The Brass Lamp and will feature a performance by Alicia Murphy. For more details, visit Open on Facebook or at openthebookstore.com.

Open and The Brass Lamp are located at 245 The Promenade North.



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