Kramerbooks begins new author series

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle (Ron Charles/Washington Post)
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle (Ron Charles/Washington Post)

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle has long offered Washingtonians a well-curated selection of books and food. But now the store is adding author events to its regular menu.

Tonight at 6:30, the series kicks off with Megan Abbott talking about her novel “The Fever.” By September, Kramerbooks will be presenting one or two events a week.

To manage this new initiative, Kramerbooks created an events director position and hired Sarah Baline. She was formerly the events coordinator at Politics & Prose Bookstore, which offers more than 500 author events a year. (In April, Politics & Prose added another series to its already packed lineup: a partnership with the Willard InterContinental hotel featuring famous authors and fancy food.)

It’s a healthy sign that Kramerbooks feels confident enough to enter this busy arena – and hire new staff.

“Our business is thriving,” Baline says, “but we can’t stand still. I am scheduling author events as well as managing the store’s social media, promotion and advertising. To me, the position is really one of outreach — to our neighborhood, greater Washington and the book world at large.”

Baline will be trying to create a unique tone for her store’s events. “Kramerbooks has been a Dupont Circle and D.C. institution for nearly 40 years,” she says, “and we pride ourselves on our independent, some might say irreverent, spirit. I want our events program to reflect that spirit by highlighting as many original voices and new ideas as possible.”

One immediate challenge is space. It’s difficult to imagine where rows of chairs might fit in the crowded store. But Baline plans to clear an area in the smaller room in front of the cafe bar. She might also use the cafe mezzanine. And she has partnered with Hillyer Art Space to host a reading in October.

“I think of readings as live theater, completely in the moment,” Baline says. “Even if the author has read the same passage from San Francisco to Nashville, every event is a new experience with a different vibe . . . from somber and meditative to absolutely raucous.”

And Kramerbooks has the best pie. Enough said.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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