Monday, September 13, 2010

Meltingpot Flavor in the Bookstore

Okay Meltingpot readers,

Think of today's post as a public service announcement in support of independent bookstores. I've been wanting to highlight Presse Bookstore for a long time here on the Meltingpot and since they are hosting me this weekend for a Substitute Me reading, I figured now was the perfect moment.

We all know that in this economy, any small business owner has to work insanely hard just to keep afloat. And that work load can seem twice as arduous for the independent bookstore owner as it seems like every day another bookstore -- both chains and independent -- closes its doors. And heck, there are even reports that Barnes and Noble has put itself up for sale.

That's why I have to give HUGE props to Presse owner, Harvetta Asamoah, who not only opened Presse bookstore --in 2008-- when most people were getting out of the book game, but she's managed to maintain her vision of a cozy, ecelectic international bookstore by being innovative and ingenious with her offerings.

Walking into Presse feels like walking into another world, literally. When I walked in for the first time last year, I seriously had to stop myself from squealing out loud, because of all of the delicious books on the shelves -- from the children's books to the cookbooks -- everything was multilingual, multicultural and up to date. Turns out Ms. Asamoah is a complete kindred spirt. I think she might be my sister from another mother. She's a Black woman from the midwest with a love of languages and foreign travel. In fact, before opening Presse, she was an international lawyer and legal translator.

Asamoah keeps her linguistic skills on point by hosting Spanish and French conversation groups, she hosts French and Spanish speaking authors and open mic poetry readings in multiple languages. Don't you just love it? El esposo and I were actually guests of the Spanish language conversation group and we did our entire Kinky Gazpacho presentation in Spanish. You have to love that.

Of course, Asamoah has to be a shrewd business woman to keep this literary oasis afloat, so she's taking Presse to the masses by launching a Presse E-commerce site so the whole world can browse her wonderful collections. Publisher's Weekly recently wrote a story about her new site and you can read it here.

If you live in the DC area, please pop in to Presse. If you don't live in DC, check out their website.

In the meantime, what's your favorite Indie bookstore? What makes them special?



ErinMichelle said...

Thanks so much for this. Your blog exposes me to so much that I love about culture.

LT said...


Awww, thanks! It's why I do what I do.