A new chapter for a used book store

Whether in her hometown of Ellington, Connecticut, or on family vacations across the country, Ann Tetreault grew up frequenting used book stores. She developed a voracious appetite for reading, she says, diving into pages of fiction like a high school football team at an all-you-can-eat buffet after a win. And Tetreault says she also learned to appreciate used book stores for the individuality they offered through their selections of books.

She’s applied her sense of literary flavor as the owner of The Spiral Bookcase on Cotton Street in Manayunk, which she opened in June with her husband. The store’s 7,000 books are mostly used fiction, and Tetreault says a decent chunk of them are out of print or first editions.

Tetreault’s previous job had her cataloguing literary material for the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., which, she says, developed her eye for spotting rare books. But customers can order new titles at Spiral Bookcase too, or trade in their old one for store credit.

“It’s a process, I’m always looking for new material and kind of honing it,” says Tetreault of cycling her new acquisitions and old books in and out of her store’s limited shelf space. “We want a quick rotation with our newer books featured every week.”

Aside from monthly author readings and book signings, Spiral Bookcase invites all writers to attend their open poetry reading on Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s an intimate event where people can come together,” says Tetreault. In late 2010, a group of local poets known as the Dead Bards approached her looking for a space to read their poems. Spiral Bookcase held its first reading in December, and Tetreault says anyone is welcome to perform five to ten minutes worth of material. 

“It’s a really casual environment. It’s not a classroom so people can be open without being criticized,” says Tetreault. Poetry readers can have their work critiqued and open for comment too, Tetreault says, but only if they ask.

And in an alliance of two businesses that truly compliment each other, the Spiral Bookcase has also found a friend in Mugshots Coffeehouse next door. Tetreault has held literary discussions at Mugshots, and hopes to use the cafe again in the future for events with larger crowds.

On Saturday, May 14, local author Louis Pesci will appear at The Spiral Bookcase at 3 p.m for a reading and signing of his vampire graphic novel Nosferatu: The Untold Origin, as part of the Manayunk Development Corperation’s “Get Married in Manayunk” event.

NW Playlist will have more details on this event posted tomorrow, so be sure to check back soon.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.