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October 31, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Independent bookstore opening in old motel

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Steve Marcus

The Alicia Motel on East Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 | 3:57 p.m.

This will be good news to anyone who thinks downtown is being flooded with too many taverns, to say nothing of those who miss a good old-fashioned bookstore.

An independent bookstore is coming to 509 Fremont St., perhaps as early as March, in a spot once occupied by a tattoo parlor adjacent to The Griffin bar.

The Writer’s Block Book Shop will be operated by Scott Seeley, former director of a New York City free writing program for kids. Seeley's program, part of a network of writing programs around the country, set itself apart by also offering for sale superhero supplies – grappling hooks, for instance.

Seeley said the store will be temporary then move several months later into the old Alicia Motel in the 1200 block of Fremont. Downtown Project owns the old tattoo parlor and the Alicia.

When finished, the bookstore in the far east section of Fremont will serve a variety of functions, aside from selling books, Seeley said.

Screenwriting will be worked into the building’s programming, as well as an educational writing program for children.

Seeley and Drew Cohen run the only Espresso Book Machine in Nevada — just one of about 30 in the country — inside the newly opened Inspire News Cafe. The cafe is at the corner of Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard in what used to be a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Opened just this week, the cafe serves illy-brand coffee and features dozens of magazines.

Click to enlarge photo

This is a machine that can print out your own book, with paperback cover, or any book sold by several publishers.

The Espresso Book Machine creates soft-cover books from a list of a few million at about the same price as a book purchased in a store, Cohen said.

Customers can also self-publish their own book with the machine, which typically requires the writer to provide the manuscript in a PDF format.

Cohen demonstrated its workings — the machine has see-through sides so the printing, gluing and cutting of the book is visible as it happens — while printing a book on numerology for a customer.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts complex.

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