The Lucky Tour: Kramerbooks & afterwords

LuckyIntrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…

zooWASHINGTON, D.C. — Walking through D.C. in the middle of the summer isn’t always pleasant. Anyone in doubt of that need only think back to the 2012 Summer blackouts that left many without power, melting even when seeking shelter indoors. I lucked out and had a delicious breeze keeping the sweat off my brow, but when that wind died down, I quickly understood how a playful city stroll could become a painful concrete march. But the heat and monotony can be broken by a trip to the National Zoo. Entrance is free and the exhibits will easily distract you from the heat, replacing the sun’s grip with two types of pandas (Giant pandas and red pandas!) and plenty wonders of nature.

Kramerbooks & afterwords is man-made, but it’s still a wonder. Just off Dupont Circle, Kramerbooks is a smaller store that knows how to work within its borders. It can’t house every book in the world if it hopes to have room for any customers (and customers are the whole Kramer7reason Kramerbooks exists), so it narrows down the field through an excellent job of curating. Taking a no frills approach, you won’t find goodies, gags, or games in this bookstore, only books and people who love to sell them. Kramerbooks is also the best place to grab a book on the go. With a long shelf full of bestsellers extending from the doorway, you won’t need to search through mounds of books to find what you’re looking for. If, on the other hand, you’d like to stick around for a while, the attached Afterwords cafe and grill is the perfect companion for your book purchase.

General Manager Scott Abel answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.

When did Kramerbooks & afterwords open?

Kramer3The store opened in 1976 and was the nation’s first full bookstore, cafe, and bar.

What is the oddest book in the store?

I wouldn’t say that we have too many out-and-out odd books. We are a thoroughbred trade store, and our selection is extremely curated. We try to carry the best of the best.

What is your favorite Algonquin book and your favorite Summer read?

I’d say The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is our favorite Algonquin title. It’s been on the staff picks a couple different times this year. For the summer I’d go with something like City of Thieves by David Benioff, or maybe The Kramer6Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.

Are there any unique talents on staff that would be fun to highlight?

We have quite a few cartoonists and graphic novelists on staff. They’ve been key in helping to curate our selection. They pretty much all work as our night staff, too. Odd coincidence, there.

What is the most visited area of the store?

Our front peninsula is always busy. It’s stocked with all the K & A bestsellers and designed for people who don’t have the time to browse and need to find a book fast.


Next stop: Novel Books in Clarksburg, Maryland.

*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…

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