Written by Morgan Southworth
For those of you who may be unaware, Shakespeare and Co. is a café and bookstore combination that, in addition to the Lexington Avenue, Manhattan location that already exists, will soon open three more locations around the northeastern United States. One store will open around the Rittenhouse Square area in Philadelphia this summer while the two remaining stores will open later this year as additional Manhattan locations. One will be located in Greenwich Village and the other on Upper West Side Broadway, as according to Publishers Weekly.
A large part of the appeal to the Shakespeare and Co. seems to be its atmosphere. While wandering the shelves for textbooks and novels, the built-in café offers an area for customers to sit and consume tea, coffee, and pastries while enjoying a good book. In addition to that, however, Shakespeare and Co. also has something traditional bookstores lack: a printing service. Whether publishing a full original novel or creating a custom notebook, Shakespeare and Co. offers printing services for each. So while customers may enjoy new novels as they snack and whittle the afternoon away, they may also indulge in reading their own professionally produced work as well. That’s a service large chains like Barnes & Noble have yet to live up to.
In a past interview with Publishers Weekly, Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books and one of the men who bought the Shakespeare and Co. name in 2015, said, “You shop online if you want to buy something. If you want to experience something, you have to come to a store.” The implication here being that, aside from the ability to order textbooks and Shakespeare and Co. merchandise like mugs and shirts, there had been no plans to offer sales of e-books or otherwise order books from Shakespeare and Co. online in 2015 when that statement was given. As can be seen today, however, Shakespeare and Co.’s Lexington Avenue catalogue offers the ability to pre-order books online, though the small selection offered likely fails to represent the entire store—especially books that are already on the shelves. The company appears to go to great lengths to incentivize customers to physically walk into the store and wander the aisles rather than download a book directly to their chosen e-reader. Whatever your reading preference may be, Shakespeare and Co. offers a unique enough experience that it would be worth checking out if you ever find yourself near one of its soon-to-open New York or Philadelphia locations.