Bookspace easily contends to be one of the greatest book shops in Philadelphia. As of this spring, it can also boast being the hippest place in town, holding Jazz Session Sundays, folk and rock acts throughout the week, and even chess competitions in the afternoons.
The property, originally built to manufacture elevators, now dishes up long corridors of used books, laced with Christmas lights, swallowed under a three-story ceiling of draped fabric and a functional trapeze (yes, a trapeze). Scattered amongst pianos, bamboo, sculptures and an old car or two, it’s easy to forget that you are in Fishtown. These locales are the sort of hidden places you think of finding only in the hippest parts of Brooklyn. It’s industrial exterior is a bit uninviting, but through the door you’re likely to find the same friendly people and charm you encounter at a favorite local coffee shop.
Owners Ben Orlock and Mike DiProspero acquired the 1113 Frankford Avenue space five years ago to house their used book collection. The business operated exclusively online until opening to the public in 2009. Today, Orlock is making a concerted effort to use the space in new and unique ways. Future events include: a circus sideshow, a burlesque act, aerial acrobatics and poetry readings. Bookspace is an unmatched marvel here in Philadelphia and is slowly becoming the beating heart of the Fishtown art scene. Expect to hear much more about this place in the months to come. —-Derek Krzywicki