City Lit Books

CITYLITStepping into City Lit Books brought me back to my high school days, when my friends and I used to frequent the now defunct Borders. A few things gave me that impression: the clean look and feel of the wooden shelves and carpet; the wider selection (compared to other stores at the time); and more seating dispersed throughout the store, rather than off to the side.

Aside from being much smaller than Borders, there were other aspects that made City Lit Books stand out, the most notable being their feature displays. In the store windows, and all throughout the shop itself, were tables of and shelves of feature titles. Some were new, others were currently trending. I could tell that a lot of time and effort must go into setting these displays up.

When browsing, I found that not only does City Lit Books include the more well-known authors, but also an array of lesser known and local authors (I noticed Sleep Tight by Jeff Jacobson, an author previously featured on LitCity).

To go a step further, staff have taken it upon themselves to stick notes beneath certain books throughout the store, providing a short summary of that book and why s/he would recommend it. It’s like a more personal version of an online recommendation system, and very creative. This system made even more sense once I got in contact with store owner Theresa Kirschbraun.

“We are continually evaluating the titles in the store to make sure that we are carrying books we know our customers will be looking for,” Kirschbraun said. “So there is a curating process here that is hard to match online.”

In addition to being responsive to customers’ interests, City Lit Books hosts a family-friendly Story Time every week, as well as author events, and monthly book clubs.

Being near the Logan Square CTA blue line stop has only helped to increase business.

“This is a perfect location,” she said. “Being next to Lula [Cafe] and the other businesses here has been great for visibility also. There is always pedestrian traffic passing by.”

Kirschbraun’s idea to open up City Lit Books first came to fruition when she decided to merge her love of books with her management consulting background. “I prepared a business plan and found that not only was the number of independent bookstores low relative to the population in Chicago, but also, Logan Square would be a perfect spot to open a store,” she said, “… based on demographics, competition, and strong support of local independent businesses.”

When asked if the notion that bookstores (and books themselves) are “dying” was true or just an exaggeration, Kirschbraun agrees with the latter. “The rise of ebooks has been greatly exaggerated,” she said. “About 25% of all books sold now are ebooks. That leaves 75% — the great majority — in print. Their sales appear to be plateauing.”

Visit City Lit Books at:
2523 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago, IL 60647

Mon: Closed
Tues-Fri: 11AM-8PM
Sat: 10AM-7PM
Sun: 10AM-5PM

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Sarah Tassoni

Sarah is a graduate student in the MA Writing & Publishing program at DePaul University and an aspiring horror writer. She also loves cats and is a goth kid at heart.

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