From Shelf Awareness:
In 2008, David Del Vecchio opened the first Idlewild Books, a 1,100-square-foot bookstore specializing in travel books and international literature located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Before then, he had spent 10 years at the United Nations as a press officer for humanitarian affairs.
“Initially the store was devoted just to international literature and travel,” Del Vecchio said. “I was looking to do something different, to get out of the U.N., so it was a way to combine those interests.” At the store, books are organized by country and geographic region, with fiction and nonfiction titles alongside conventional guidebooks. He continued: “There were always places to find travel books, but it was difficult to find literature related to Nepal or Indonesia or France, unless you had done research before you went to a bookstore, because everything was just A-Z.”
For a time, Idlewild was a conventional bookstore–author signings and book launches were common, and there were event series on literature in translation as well as humanitarian efforts around the world. In part because it seemed print travel guides “might not have an endless future,” as Del Vecchio put it, he sought to shore up the store’s business in 2010 by experimenting with language classes.
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Customers started calling the store and requesting classes in more languages and for different levels of fluency. Subsequently, Del Vecchio began scaling up Idlewild’s offerings. In Idlewild’s first two years, Del Vecchio and his staff were putting on three or four traditional bookstore events per week; it was not long until the only events they hosted of any sort were classes, and today Idlewild Books runs French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic classes for speakers of varying skill levels (and, come this fall, there will also be classes in German and Brazilian Portuguese).
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“I think we were surprised by the response just because it’s New York City, and we thought there were already a lot of places to learn languages,” Del Vecchio said. “But I think people were excited about the idea of taking a class in a bookstore, in a non-formal atmosphere. It didn’t feel like a school. And that the teachers are from those countries lends the classes a culturally authentic feel.”
Around the same time that Idlewild started offering classes, Del Vecchio began stocking foreign-language books.
Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness