Sabrina Nishijima is simply crazy about books. When her kids were little, she took them to the public library almost every day and had, at one point, 70 titles checked out. She wrote a book—“1,001 Things To Do in Sacramento With Kids (and the Young at Heart)”—and planted a Little Free Library on her front lawn. Her latest book-related venture is her most entrepreneurial to date: In May, Nishijima opened a charming indie bookstore in East Sacramento, just around the corner from the home she shares with her husband and their two sons.
East Village Bookshop hearkens back to a simpler time, before Amazon, when people actually went to stores to buy their books. (Imagine that.) The shop is light-filled and welcoming, with a sofa where you can curl up and read The New York Times (for free), a table and chairs set for an impromptu game of chess, an upright piano and an entire children’s reading section, complete with toys, a tiny rocking chair and a coloring corner. It’s the sort of place that invites you to relax and linger—an experience a lot more satisfying than hitting the “add to cart” button on Amazon.
Nishijima describes her inventory as “a little bit of everything,” and she is right. You’ll find New York Times bestsellers like “I Alone Can Fix It” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, and beach reads such as Jennifer Weiner’s “That Summer.” But you’ll also discover lesser-known titles, like “DMZ Colony,” an award-winning collection of poems about the Korean War, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir, “The Beautiful Struggle.” Of the 12 books on this year’s Booker Prize longlist, the store stocks six, including Sunjeev Sahota’s “China Room.” Note cards with staffers’ handwritten recommendations are posted all around the store.
In addition to books, East Village Bookshop carries high-brow magazines, from Veg News and Kinfolk to The Economist, along with greeting cards, canvas totes, Piccolina’s colorful, socially conscious T-shirts for kids, and bunches of fresh wildflowers. Why flowers in a bookstore? “When I lived in London, I always saw flowers outside of shops,” Nishijima explains. “That’s a really essential part of life, to have flowers.”
Like the indie bookstore owner played by Meg Ryan in the film “You’ve Got Mail,” Nishijima knows she is up against a corporate behemoth. But, she notes, “a lot of people are becoming anti-Amazon. There’s a resistance now. It’s hard to go up against Amazon, but we have to try.”
3604 McKinley Blvd.; (279) 202-9018; bookshop.org/shop/eastvillage