the chorister's c

Washington detours



last update: Friday, 6 January 2006

last link check: 6 January 2006

Ollsson's may not be the perfect independent bookstore, but the chain has shown staying power in the very competitive bookselling landscape of D.C. Its secret may be finding geographic niches, in genuine neighborhoods with Metro access, that are too small for the megamarts to fit: an inviting 2-story brick building on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, a space under a tap dance studio in Bethesda (closed recently, alas), a slot next door to the Shakespeare Theatre in the gallery district.

The book stock is well-balanced between the literary and the ephemeral, though the poetry and drama selection in some of the stores is a bit thin for me. Hand-labelled staff recommendations figure prominently. Most stores have a handful of CD listening stations, and these are good for something offbeat. There is a generous frequent buyer plan and newsletter, and special in-store events.


Ollsson's Books & Records
1307 19th Street, N.W.
books: 202·785·1133
music: 202·785·2662
redDupont Circle

and 418 7th Street, N.W.
books: 202·638·7610
music: 202·638·7613
redgreenyellowGallery Place

and 106 S. Union Street
Alexandria, VA
books: 703·684·0077
music: 703·684·0030
yellowKing Street

and 2111 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA
books: 703·525·4227
music: 703·525·3507
orangeCourt House

and Reagan National Airport,
Terminal C
blueyellowNational Airport

I go to Reiter's to find real books on computing, the ones that you refer to for more than six months. I always end up wandering the stacks, down aisles of books in subject areas like my college major (economics)—books that I stand a chance of understanding—and from there into alcoves of medicine and engineering where I'm completely out of my depth. As it is nearby George Washington University and its various professional schools, the store also offers gadgets for medical students. A fascinating place.


Reiter's Scientific & Professional Books
2021 K Street, N.W.
blueorangeFoggy BottomblueorangeFarragut West  redFarragut North

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©1999-2002 David L. Gorsline.
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