Politics & Prose – The Little Bookstore That Could

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Politics & Prose – The Little Bookstore That Could

In this time of dramatic change in the book selling business, Politics and Prose is a neighborhood treasure that seems to be doing things the old fashioned way and making it work.

Located near the corner of Connecticut and Nebraska Avenues, Politics and Prose serves the community, not only as a bookseller, but as a meeting place for people who drop into the Coffee House with their computers or for local book groups who borrow the space on the lower level for their discussions.  The Coffee House features the work of local artists and has Saturday night Open Mike events.

Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, the store's founders, opened their doors in 1984.  Over the years, they have expanded the staff to a total of 50 people – and the store is a whole lot bigger than when they first opened.

Their travel section was my main resource while I was planning my trip to Paris.  When I need a birthday present for a client’s child, I drop by their huge selection of books for children and teens and can always find something perfect.  And whatever my book club is reading, I can go to Politics and Prose, and they give book club discounts. 

But I think the most important way they connect to the neighborhood is through their author events.  Anyone important who is coming to town on a book tour tries to get an evening at Politics and Prose.  Next week, the authors are Helene Cooper (The House At Sugar Creek), Anthony Flint (Wrestling With Moses), Richard Russo (That Old Cape Magic) and Howard Dean (Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform).  And these events always seem to be packed.

They cater to a highly sophisticated clientele, which has included everyone from people like me to Presidents – you never know when you are going to encounter guys with trench coats talking into their lapels.  That would be the Secret Service.  And you know that someone huge is about to come through the doors.

And, most important, they have woven themselves into the fabric of the upper Northwest Washington neighborhoods they serve. 

In this era of gigantic bookstores, Amazon and Kindles, they are thriving by figuring out just what their local market wants, and they doing a superb job of providing it.

Politics and Prose is located at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, and there is free parking in the lot behind the store.

Comments (11)

Sheila Moran
RE/MAX Access (Garden Ridge, San Antonio, New Braunfels) - New Braunfels, TX
SanAntonioSheila.com, RE/MAX Access, 210-32


I just love little places like this...they have so much good energy instead of the BIG WAREHOUSE book stores...

nice post!

Aug 08, 2009 12:26 PM
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Pat... there is something about a neighborhood bookstore that B&N or Borders just cannot replicate in terms of the experience and atmosphere!  Sounds like a great find in NW DC.

Aug 08, 2009 12:50 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Sheila and Steve,  this place is so retro in so many ways, and it just really works.

Aug 08, 2009 12:57 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Pat - sounds like a cool place. Reminds me of Kramerbook and Afterwords Cafe in duPont Cirle.


Aug 08, 2009 01:19 PM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Hi Pat

Thanks for the tip I will stop by the bookstore on my next trip to Washington.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 08, 2009 03:12 PM
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

Only in Washington DC could you have secret service come in to check the place out before someone arrives.

Aug 08, 2009 03:33 PM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


What a name for the place. A nice blog and very graphically pleasing. I thought that seeing this sign i would stop by... for politics, or, maybe, prose... and coffee, that's for sure

Aug 08, 2009 04:43 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jeff, when I first moved to Washington, I used to play my flute there with the Pro Bono Musicum, a trio make up of Nader's Raiders.  We passed the hat to supplement our non-profit wages!  I love that place!  It's still there, too!

Lou, next time you're in Washington, please let your DC blog buddies know that you are coming!

Terry, that time it was for the President, who came through to do some last minute Christmas shopping.

And Jon, the coffee and pastries are a wonderful part of their inventory, too!


Aug 09, 2009 12:12 AM
Ed Schneider
Evers & Co. Real Estate Inc. - Washington, DC
Washington DC Real Estate Specialist

Pat - Thanks for the reminder. I finished my book last night (Malcomb Gladwell's "The Tipping Point") and need to head over there to find something new.

See you there.

Aug 09, 2009 02:40 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Ed, when I read The Tipping Point, I bought it at Politics and Prose!

Aug 09, 2009 03:39 AM
Darrin Friedman
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty - Allegheny, PA

One of my favorite places ever!  Thanks Pat!

Aug 09, 2009 07:24 AM