PROVIDENCE, R.I. — This is the second of two posts on the book stores in Wayland Square on the East Side. The first post featured Books on the Square, an independent bookseller, and this one features Myopic Books, a used and rare book shop with more than 25,000 volumes.
The store is owned by Kristin Sollenberger, a visual artist and businesswoman who studied at Rhode Island School of Design. Wayland Square is near RISD and Brown, and it’s a great place to walk around — and between Books on the Square and Myopic Books it’s a great place to buy books. Sollenberger said:
I think people are lucky to have both of us in this area.
Her shop has been open since 1996. Its emphasis, as per the web page, is “scholarly books, literature and books on the arts.” I enjoyed the philosophy and biography sections, picking up a few biographies for me and a copy of Poetics for my dad. There was a great selection of Loeb classical library books, too.
There’s art throughout — no surprise — including art featuring eyeballs, hand-made cards made from “book debris,” and an “Art-O-Mat,” which dispenses original artworks. And, though best enjoyed in better weather than the cold spell when I was around, a courtyard out back.
The name of the store originated with Sollenberger’s hand-made card company. The name, she said, reflects this:
It’s sort of my vision, which may be tunnel vision of what a good book should be that I should have on my shelves.
Sollenberger, who has a painting degree, worked at another bookshop, managing a cafe. She bought out the inventory when that shop closed to open Myopic Books. She said:
I just liked books. I have ever since I discovered used bookstores. You never know what you can find going to used bookstores.
The day I visited she sported a slight black eye — a book-shelving wound.
I was at the top shelf. One tipped over and hit me in the eye. It was up beyond my reach.
She also opened a store in Wakefield, R.I., which lasted about two years.
I kind of had to move two stores into one.
Myopic shows it. The place it packed with books. The store has done well in Wayland Square, and Sollenberger had a great holiday season. I asked about how business stays strong.
I feel I was very lucky getting this location. And being selective about inventory, and keeping it moving.
In addition to the cards, there were some craft-style artworks for sale on the wall when I visited. But the business is books,despite the artistic touches around the shop. Sollenberger said:
I guess since I don’t have much time for my artwork, this is like my artwork.
And a couple of young men came in to sell books, and the owner bought a few — keeping it moving.