Maple Street Book Shop has opened its second satellite store in six months, this time on Ponce de Leon Street, a few doors down from Fair Grinds Coffee Shop, and Canseco’s on the other side. Unlike Maple Street’s Healing Center branch on St. Claude Avenue—which is fairly sprawled, sparse, and awkward—the Bayou Saint John branch is a bright and cozy space stocked with a strong collection. It features new and used books and a small but well-curated selection of periodicals, along with a few postcards and a bit of local art.
Manager Matt Carney, who also runs a website dedicated to book cover art, seems to have taken something of a best-of selection from Maple Street’s Uptown location and supplemented it with titles that speak to his and his staff’s personal interests, including a “cognitive mapping” section (think Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities) and a selection of books of prose by poets. Michael Glaviano, who read at Antenna as part of the PANK Magazine event last month, is helping Carney select the stock. Sara White, whose custom prints function as section dividers, helped pick the stock as well. The store also contains an array of local interest books—including every title put out by Pelican Publishing—and the requisite two copies of Beowulf available at every store that sells used books in the world.
Though a truly solid all-around bookstore like Square Books in Oxford continues to elude New Orleans, this new shop is a welcome addition to the city’s book retail community, which is largely made up of small stores that don’t offer everything, but the best of which still manage to offer a lot.