As the new owner of the New Dominion Bookshop, Julia McCrea Kudravetz '98 is excited about where things are headed for the bookshop's second century.
"I wanted to carry on the traditions of the past one hundred years serving the Charlottesville literary community, but make some important updates so that the business could thrive for the next one hundred years," Kudravetz said, thinking back on the sale.
As the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia, New Dominion not only has a wide collection of fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature but a broad and loyal customer base who visit the shop for events and literary conversations as much as to browse for books.
"At New Dominion, we go beyond book retail to be a gathering place for the literary community," Kudravetz explained. "We have approximately one hundred events a year, from book launches to author panels to book club meetings. It is as much a literary space as a retail business. That is what is exciting, from a community perspective. I think my favorite part is having conversations about books with so many different people who come into the shop, from locals and long-time customers to international tourists and new U.Va. students exploring the Downtown Mall for the first time. Every day is different, but there is always talk of books and ideas."
Kudravetz remembers history classes with Dr. Cornell and English classes with Mr. Amos, Ms. O'Neil, and Dr. Erb as foundational to her understanding of classic texts.
"I had excellent teachers at the School, and those reading lists formed the backbone of the knowledge that I draw on every day when ordering and selecting books for customers," she noted. "Additionally, the workload at the School, the sheer amount of reading, prepared me for the amount of reading and research I need to do in order to keep up with the number of new books coming out each season."
New at the bookshop this year is an initiative with another St. Anne's-Belfield School alumnus, Chris Murphy '18. "Friday Night Writes" provides a space for college students and older high school students to share their prose, poetry, original acoustic songs, and even one-act plays. Murphy coordinated Open Mic Nights during his time at the Upper School, and will now use that experience to run the professional events for local young artists, bringing a new generation of readers and writers into the shop along the way.
For Kudravetz, it is this physical visit to a bricks and mortar bookshop that is the core factor in a successful reading experience.
"I think it's very important to always have physical books around," she said. "Browsing a library of books, where you can discover something new among the shelves, is a powerful experience that can't be replicated on an e-reader. I think students, and children especially, retain information better when reading a real book. Make sure there are always physical books around, both at home and at school. And if you are in the area or just coming back for a reunion, we would love to help you find your next book to read!"
New Dominion Bookshop is located on Charlottesville's historic Downtown Mall at 404 E. Main Street. The shop is staffed by booksellers who love reading and talking about books. A full schedule of events is available online at www.ndbookshop.com.