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Inside A Novel Idea bookstore on East Passyunk
A Novel Idea on East Passyunk is the go-to spot for upcoming Philly artists and writers to workshop and showcase their work. Photo courtesy of: A Novel Idea.

A Novel Idea on Passyunk is sharing its space with local artists and writers in Philly

Alexander Schneider and Christina Rosso-Schneider opened their independent bookstore in December 2017.

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Philly’s art scene is never dull thanks to a constant rise of new writers and artists in the city.

One bookstore in particular that reflects this reality is A Novel Idea on Passyunk, which has been promoting book readings, open mics, and workshops to highlight the importance of local talent in and around Philadelphia.

The independent bookstore, which opened in December 2017, is the brainchild of Alex Schneider and Christina Rosso-Schneider, East Passyunk residents who share a love of literature and local art.

A Novel Idea founders Alex Schneider and Christina Rosso-Schneider
A Novel Idea founders Alex Schneider (left) and Christina Rosso-Schneider (right). Photo courtesy of: A Novel Idea.

The couple were originally not serious about opening their own business, however, one day, just went for it.

“The idea came to us just as a joke,” Rosso-Schneider said to AL DIA News. “As a writer and a reader, I have always thought about opening a bookstore but it seemed like a pipe dream.”

They wanted to open the shop to highlight diversity as well as the work and talent of other artists from different cultures and backgrounds.

They got their store space in August 2017 and opened in December 2017.

“Giving the space to authors or artists that have traditionally not gotten the attention they deserve is really important,” Rosso-Schneider said.

The bookstore owners regularly host book readings and other events to folks who have different voices and perspectives.

“We do about 200 events a year and that can be anywhere between 10 to 20 events per month,” she said.

Right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full effect, their events have mainly been via Zoom, however, they’ve remained successful.

One example is the open mic nights they host every first Wednesday of the month.

Their events are also usually free with a suggested donation.

“Everyone who attends can share a moment with us,” said Rosso-Schneider. “We have writing workshops and events about publishing, we post multiple book clubs, we also have author events.”

Alexander and Christina also focus on promoting books that focus on queer identity and different cultural backgrounds.

Inside A Novel Idea on East Passyunk.
Inside A Novel Idea on East Passyunk. Photo courtesy of: A Novel Idea.

“We are working really hard to be a store that doesn't just carry any classics or books that are only on the New York Best Selling list,” said Rosso-Schneider.

For instance, the shop carries many books written by Asian-American authors, including, Crying in H Mart, a novel written by Philly-area native Michelle Zauner.

Their website also has a list of books that the store owners are currently reading, if customers need a new book to spark interest.

The bookstore owners also listen to their customers, so if there is an author that you would like to read more of, they have you covered.

“We are happily married three years later, and the business is doing well, especially for a business that has been open throughout the pandemic,” said Rosso-Schneider.

If you’re planning a trip to East Passyunk, check out their bookstore on 1726 E. Passyunk Ave.

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