[Extended Residency]

Downtown’s Writer’s Block Book Shop returns, bigger and better

From left, Scott Seeley, Drew Cohen and Beverly Rogers pose in the Writer’s Block’s then-under-construction new location.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

The readers felt it. When Writer’s Block Book Shop closed the doors to its Fremont Street location last fall, Las Vegas’ constant readers were struck to the quick; not even the knowledge that proprietors Drew Cohen and Scott Seeley were building a new, expanded Writer’s Block nearby at Sixth Street and Bonneville Avenue could ease their restiveness. They continued attending author readings at the old location; they checked in with their families; they added a few books to their Amazon wish lists and said, “No, no. Not gonna do it.”

This Saturday, April 13, at noon, their patience will be rewarded when Writer’s Block reopens as the cornerstone of the Lucy, the new creative live/work space funded by local benefactor Beverly Rogers. (Rogers, and several other partners, also invested deeply in the bookstore’s expansion.) And from what we’ve seen of the space, if you liked the original store, you’re going to be happily overwhelmed by Writer’s Block’s new volume.

As for the why of it all, it’s simple: Cohen and Seeley wanted to do more. “Our new partnership [with Beverly Rogers] allows us to expand on everything we’ve been doing,” Seeley says, taking a break from painting a fanciful landscape mural inspired by animation production designer Maurice Noble (a longtime cohort of Looney Tunes mastermind Chuck Jones). “Who wouldn’t love that opportunity?”

Without giving away too much about the space (there are visual surprises here I don’t want to spoil for you), I can say that it’s a much larger, much more immersive space than the previous version, with a greatly expanded stock (Cohen says the shop’s inventory has grown “by five or six times,” estimating the store will open with “between 18,000 and 20,000 books in stock”). But the intimacy and charm that defined the old space is still present—remember the (fake) King Pigeon from which you could solicit advice, and the (real) white rabbit that held court near checkout? It’s the same Writer’s Block, just with many more pages.

“I tried to clarify all the [book] sections so they’re better for browsing,” Cohen says. “We now have a dedicated social sciences section, and a separate politics/economics section. We’ve added a travel section; our history section is broken out to American, world and so on. And there’s far more deep cuts. The fiction section is way larger now. Our fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror—all of that has grown.”

Plus: remaindered books. “We’re going to be discounting books more aggressively, and ordering in bargain books,” Cohen says. “We’ll have a better price range for folks to pick from.”

Seeley talks about other areas in which Writer’s Block has grown—a larger staff, a more versatile events space (with a baby grand piano) and possible outdoor seating … which means I have to give up one more surprise: They’re adding coffee and pastries, with the help of local barista Michelle Watts. (If you’ve had a memorable espresso Downtown—at Vesta, say, or the Beat—odds are good Watts pulled the shot for you. She knows her stuff.)

“We’re focusing on keeping everything as fresh as possible. We’re going to make pastries fresh in the morning; we’re gonna get locally roasted coffee,” Watts says. “I’ve helped many people open cafés, but Drew and Scott really gave me free rein. I’m excited to bring something new to the neighborhood.”

There’s more to be said about Writer’s Block, but that would be telling. It’s probably better if I just end here with this: Your Downtown bookstore is back. Tell your family you’ll be gone for a while, gather up your bookmarks and go.

Writer's Block Book Shop 519 S. 6th Street, 702-550-6399. Reopens April 13, noon. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m-7 p.m.; Sunday. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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