Updated on May 10, 4:00 p.m.
When the last Barnes & Noble store in Queens closed its doors at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in 2015, the only bookstore left in the borough was The Astoria Bookshop.
But now, a bookstore with locations in Manhattan will be moving to Long Island City. Book Culture, which was founded in 1997, is an independent and academic bookstore that will add a fourth location at 26-09 Jackson Ave.
The space, owned by Rockrose, will measure 2,300 square feet and according to The New York Times, the company will offer discounted rent after it opens in 2018 until the store turns a profit.
“We think it’s important for the soul of the neighborhood,” Justin Elghanayan, president of Rockrose, told the paper.
Chris Doeblin, a co-owner of the bookstores, said Rockrose approached him to open the space in Long Island City.
“We’ve been looking all over and the reason we settled on that one next was that Rockrose really wanted us,” he said. “Their leasing agent knew our store … and she introduced me to the space, and it just struck me as great.”
Doeblin is hoping they can open the space sometime before Thanksgiving. The first floor will be dedicated to children’s books and toys. It will also have a “fun family room” for parents and children to read and play.
“We have really high-quality educational toys and games [at our other locations],” he said. “We’re going to try to recreate those [in Long Island City].”
The second floor will feature new releases including literature and nonfiction. Doeblin said staff will also see “what the neighborhood yearns for” to make decisions about stocking the shelves.
“Sometimes mysteries will do very well, sometimes economics and business will do well,” he said.
Book Culture will also have a presence at the Queens Book Festival taking place on May 27 and May 28 at the Long Island City waterfront.
Queens was home to several bookstores that began shutting down in 2014. Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows closed in 2014 and the chain locations in Bayside and Forest Hills followed soon after. Book lovers tried keeping the stores open by signing petitions, but none were successful.
Three Queens residents who worked at the Forest Hills location announced last year that they would raise money to open The Queens Bookshop Initiative, a bookstore in Forest Hills or Kew Gardens. Queens residents have donated more than $70,000 for the project and they are currently looking for a brick-and-mortar space for the new bookstore.
Book Culture will fill a large void in the Queens bookstore landscape. The Astoria Bookshop, located at 31-29 31st St., is currently the only independent bookstore in the borough. There’s also The Austin Bookshop, located at 104-29 Jamaica Ave., in Richmond Hill, which has sold old, rare and out-of-print books since 1954. It is open only on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.