With a bevy places to buy books available, Santa Fe bookstores rising above the Amazon and e-book fray by transforming into destinations—not just stores—and distinguishing themselves with expert staff and curated collections.
Five years ago, Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St., 988-4226), the city’s oldest indie bookstore, boldly doubled its retail space. The store, just off the Plaza, is now home to a bustling café with delicious pastries and coffee. “We’re a general bookstore with a deep affection for and dedication to local writers and poets,” says Dorothy Massey, who co-owns the store with her daughter Mary Wolf. As such, the store also hosts a full slate of readings and signings for New Mexico and national authors, as well as community events such as lectures prior to Santa Fe Opera performances. The community hasn’t just come to the bookstore; the bookstore has gone into the community. For example, it sells titles at Lensic Performing Arts Center events and hosts a booth at Santa Fe Indian Market.
Bee Hive Kids Books (328 Montezuma Ave., 780-8051), a children’s bookstore in the Railyard District, also excels at entertaining its audience of early to young-adult readers. The store hosts story times: After School Doodling at the Bee Hive, a craft-centric Friday afternoon session; summer workshops on Wednesdays focused on story, music, and art; and occasional Saturday events with varying focuses. Adults aren’t left out—there’s a monthly book club for grown-ups too. Owner Christian Nardi also provides the personal touch. “We try to find the perfect book for that person. That’s not something you can get online or on a tablet,” she says.
Rick Palmer and Adam Gates, owners of Garcia Street Books (376 Garcia St., 986-0151), a general bookstore off Canyon Road, highlight under-the-radar and new hardbacks. “We do our homework to find things that our customers will like. Our customers are very literary, well-read people…We like to display things that you won’t be able to find in the checkout line at Target or Walmart,” says Palmer.
By virtue of their identities, specialty shops also offer well-curated selections. The photo-eye (370 Garcia St., 988-5152) is connected to a fine-art photography gallery and offers handsome coffee-table titles on the art of image making. The Ark (133 Romero St., 988-3709), a metaphysical bookstore, sells all manner of self-help and inspirational titles. The Travel Bug (839 Paseo de Peralta, 992-0418), a travel specialty store, offers narrative travel and guidebooks. Books of Interest (311 Aztec St., 984-9829) is the go-to spot for used books of all genres.