Located a block from Capitol Hill, East City Bookshop is a fresh face in the world of Washington D.C. bookstores. The two-story bookshop is tucked in the same retail building as a game shop and a photography store, but with its neon green sign, it’s hard to miss. Painted in bright colors and sporting a welcoming spirit, the shop has excited many, especially those on the eastern side of the city.
Laurie Gillman, the owner of East City Bookshop, was not one who dreamed of owning a bookshop. “There are a lot of people I’ve met who say, ‘Oh, I’ve always dreamed of having a bookstore.’ I was not one of those people.” But while D.C. boasts several other bookstores, such as Kramerbooks & Afterwords and Politics and Prose, Laurie found the dearth of independent bookstores on the eastern side of the city disheartening. Watching independent bookstores close one after another for the past decade, Laurie decided something must be done. After researching the logistics of opening a bookstore and finding an affordable space, Laurie became convinced it was her new project. “Once I got a little into it, I couldn’t really let it go. I was a bit obsessed.”
When East City Bookshop opened its doors a year and a half ago, Laurie wanted to create a community bookstore with a comprehensive collection. While literary fiction is the standout customer favorite, Gillman’s shelves are stocked with everything from political theory to graphic novels to children’s books. Laurie has even partnered with a local running store and created a joint running/book club.
East City Bookshop promotes local authors to the outside world, or at least to Washington D.C. At its beginning, East City Bookshop hosted a reading once a week on average. Laurie has now more than doubled the events with a minimum of two a week, and she is in communication with several publishers to plan future events. She wants more out of the bookstore: more author events, more community events, and more readers. While she has not preconceived notions of what might come out of the community, she is both excited about their prospect and willing to help make them happen.
Their overall mission is to make people feel welcome, so head on over to East City Bookshop if you’re in the D.C. area. If you’re a LARB member, there’s an extra incentive to popping into Gillman’s shop. Your Reckless Reader discount card—a coveted perk that comes with every membership level and offers deals at a growing number of independent bookstores nationwide— will score you 10 percent off any purchase. To learn more, take a look at our digital, print and book club membership programs.