There are only twelve shopping days left until Christmas, and what better gift than a design book? However, rather than offer my customary (admittedly self-serving) gift book list, this season I am suggesting a destination for your one-stop holiday design book shopping. New York’s Poster House has earned the newly coveted A-Number-1-museum-bookstore-on-the-East-Coast rating from The Daily Heller. In fact, this is arguably the only well-stocked design-centric bookstore in Manhattan (and maybe even Greater New York too).
Below, I asked Joseph Brichacek, the Poster House Shop Director (previously the book buyer at the Cooper Hewitt gift shop) to weigh in on how he curates the books, posters, and related merchandise.
How do you choose/curate which books you select?
We see book sales as an integral component of Poster House’s mission to educate our audience about poster design and history. We bring in books related to current exhibitions but also stock a core selection of titles focused on the following topics:
- Poster design and history: monographs of important designers and surveys of important eras, styles, and media.
- Typography design and history.
- Graphic design and history.
- Advertising design and history.
- Kids’ books relating to these categories or exemplifying excellence in graphic design, illustration, or printing techniques.
- Art books and gift titles relating to New York City.
We know our audience enjoys books about industrial design, architecture, and other topics, but with limited space, we want to keep our selection focused enough to provide some specialist titles in typography and advertising history that you won’t find at other museum shops.
So many independent New York bookstores where design books were bountiful are gone. How do meet the sustainability challenge?
We have the benefit of operating in a beautiful museum space with rotating exhibitions and a cafe. These all drive visitors to us: both neighbors and international tourists. Our manageable size means that you can visit Poster House on your lunch break, grab a bite in our cafe, and do a little shopping as well. We’ve had a record-breaking visitation this year as more good word-of-mouth spreads.
What is the most popular book genre in the store?
By sale, our most popular genre of books is poster history— no surprise there— but we also get a lot of positive feedback about our large typography selection. Poster House hosts a lot of amazing public programs about typography, and we’ve really tapped into the type enthusiast community.