NARROWSBURG, NY — It has been Aaron Hicklin’s dream to open a book store. No stranger to the written word, Hicklin is the editor in chief of Out magazine and has long been in the journalism …
NARROWSBURG, NY — It has been Aaron Hicklin’s dream to open a book store. No stranger to the written word, Hicklin is the editor in chief of Out magazine and has long been in the journalism business. One Grand Books had its grand opening on Saturday, and members of the community and visitors came out to support the new shop.
“Dreams are not for postponing,” Hicklin said of his decision to open One Grand Books, “I decided I had to do it.” He has been coming to the region since 2000; his husband’s parents live in Equinunk, PA. He noticed a demand in the area for a bookstore, and found Narrowsburg to be a perfect location. But this is not your ordinary book store; the concept is a special one.
The shelves of One Grand Books will be host to a highly curated selection of books chosen by accomplished people, celebrities if you will, ranging from actors to writers to artists and more. The diverse group includes Tilda Swinton, Lena Dunham, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alice Waters, Miranda July and others. Each has selected his or her 10 favorite books.
Hicklin was inspired by two things: a wine shop in Manhattan called Bottle Rocket that offered wines curated by mood, and the radio show “Desert Island Discs,” which asked famous people to list eight recordings to take with them on a desert island. Further, he found that whenever he went to a book store, he would head toward the staff picks section first. Many readers are probably feeling sensory overload in the number of book options available to them on sites like Amazon. “In this day and age, people don’t want everything; they want it to be highly curated, they want people to choose for them,” he said.
The physical space of One Grand Books is also special. Hicklin enlisted architect Jon Buono and local cabinet maker Larry Braverman to create the space. “Larry is a complete artist and Jon has an incredible eye. They turned the store into something new and fresh. No one else could do this, this quality,” Hicklin said. Braverman built the book shelves, which are American white ash and feature a motif based on the façade of a local building.
Atmosphere is paramount; just as important as the books. Hicklin has created a beautiful and welcoming book shop. Bellocq teas and coffee are available, and a writing desk encourages visitors to pen a letter and send a book to someone. “You’re there to be inspired, chat and have a cup of tea,” Hicklin said. He hopes to feature local authors and host readings.
Hicklin is from England, a small village called Ramsbury near Wiltshire. He started his first magazine at the age of 12, called Kid Stuff. He wrote the articles and even sold ads. He went to college in Wales and got his first proper job at The Scotsman newspaper. He became a well-established journalist and was a war correspondent in Bosnia and covered the Middle East as well as major events like the funeral of Princess Diana. He moved to the United States in 1998 and has been editor of Out for 10 years. He, more so than anyone, understands the importance of print, and also the struggle in the age of technology to keep print alive. However, contrary to public speculation, print books are having a moment. Sales of e-books declined 10% in the first half of 2015, and there are more independent books stores today than there were five years ago.
While Hicklin is keeping his day job and staying in the city, he will run his dream bookstore on the weekends. Why did he decide to open a shop in Narrowsburg rather than New York? “Small communities really support local entrepreneurs. In the city, you’re one of the crowd, part of the furniture of the city. In a small town, it becomes a gathering place.”
One Grand Books is located at 60 Main St., Narrowsburg. Visit www.onegrandbooks.com. It will be open through New Year’s Eve, and then the weekend of January 9/10 and President’s Day/Valentine’s weekend, February 13/14. But it will be closed the rest of January, February and March, opening again on Friday, March 25, with a celebration of Scottish literature for Tartan Day in the first week of April.