Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Writer's Block: Newest Addition to Downtown Vegas

Most tourists don’t come to Las Vegas to shop at a bookstore. Of all my friends and family who have visited me over that last several decades, not a single one, not even the ardent readers, have asked for directions to the nearest bookstore.

Aside from the fact that everyone wants to cruise down The Strip at night, visit the restaurants run by the top chefs from the Food Channel, and try their hand at the tables or slots, they might not even realize the city has bookstores. And, except for the widely spaced Barnes and Nobles (and some very excellent used bookstores), that’s about the truth.

Or at least it was.

Today, my friend Ann and I journeyed to downtown Las Vegas specifically to find a place called The Writer’s Block. I’d read about it months ago and again recently and knew I’d have to check it out. A quick google search told me the place was located at 509 South Fremont, just across the street from the famed Fremont Street Experience.

But it wasn’t.

That address was a storefront with windows obliterated by brown craft paper. Next door was a café, and peeking into the windows, I noticed some magazines draped across racks, but no books.

According to the article in the Las Vegas Sun, the store was renovating an old motel called the Alicia, further down Fremont Street. Plans were to take this well-seasoned old building and turn it into a super bookstore with new and used books and the state-of-the-art equipment that turns an ebook into a print book. So, it was in the car and out on the street, looking for Alicia.

But before I found the Alicia, I found The Writer’s Block, a little store next to some kind of battery service shop (or something), where we parked.

I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe some mediocre little joint to match the rundown neighborhood (disclaimer: there’s a lot of redevelopment going on and a lot more planned), but I was totally surprised, thrilled, in fact, to find a shop that was both quaint and modern, filled with new titles and nooks and crannies jammed with the most interesting décor. To the left of the entrance was an old 1800s printing press, partially reassembled and next to it a young man who very willingly (almost lovingly) talked about restoring it with hopes of having it totally operational by the grand opening of the planned mega store.

And, despite the location, customers streamed in and out during our short visit.

It was after lunch and we hadn’t eaten, which is the only reason we didn’t stick around longer; but, we’re planning to go back very soon, very often, in fact. And we most definitely will head back to the café on the corner of Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard to have a couple of my eBooks magically turned into pBooks. (Not going to wait for the Alicia project to finish.)

We both walked out with a good feeling about the store and its future and I’m thinking those tourists, family and friends are going to start making a visit to this bookstore part of their stay in Las Vegas--or at least they should. In the meantime, they can keep track of the place via the list here.