Granada Books, the first Santa Barbara-based independent bookstore to open in 20 years, is slated to open its doors this June in a building next to the Granada Theater on State Street.

Despite the fact that many local bookstores have closed in recent years, owners Emmett McDonough and Sharon Hoshida are optimistic about their prospects and hope the bookstore will enrich Santa Barbara’s art culture, according to publicist Maria Long. The roughly 3,000 square foot space will include a garden courtyard, which will serve as an outdoor performance space, and the store plans to hold events including book signings, book club meetings, poetry nights and story hours for children.

While many large book chains are struggling to compete with online companies, Long said independent bookshops are currently flourishing.

“Smaller bookstores are doing really well right now,” Long said. “More independent bookstores have opened than closed recently, and book sales are increasing nation-wide. Most book sales still remain in print format.”

Long said the current lack of bookstores in the area presents a great opportunity for the business to fill a gap in Santa Barbara’s downtown offerings.

“We’re just about ready to launch now, which is really exciting…the business plans are in place. The timing was just right,” Long said. “Clearly we’ve needed a bookstore for over a year now. It should add to the culture of Santa Barbara. I think the culture in a downtown bookstore [for Santa Barbara] is missing.”

According to Long, the bookstore’s planned location near Granada Theater is optimal because of heavy foot-traffic and its place at the heart of Santa Barbara’s art and entertainment scene.

“That’s the arts district of Santa Barbara. It has fabulous restaurants and a lot of activities. It’s adjacent to the Granada Theater, which gives people the extra element of the arts,” Long said.

Granada Books will be the second independently owned bookstore in Santa Barbara, aside from Chaucer’s, which has been in operation since 1974. Chaucer’s owner Mahri Kerley said she looks forward to the opening of another independent bookstore.

“The world can certainly use more bookstores, not less,” Kerley said in an email. “And we certainly welcome the addition of a bookstore in downtown Santa Barbara.”

Long also said Granada’s opening will allow Santa Barbara readers to select from a greater variety of books.

“I think there’s room for two [bookstores]. It’s a great draw for Santa Barbara’s tourist industry too, since tourists congregate on State Street,” Long said.

In addition to the tourist pull, the Granada hopes to take advantage of the college community by catering to students, Long said.

“This is a learned town with many schools; this is a place for all sorts of students and readers,” Long said. “It’s really time that State Street has a community book store where people can gather, read at their leisure and explore new authors they haven’t heard of before.”

Kallan Sheehan, an undeclared first-year, said Granada’s opening will allow customers the experience of perusing a physical bookstore — something online competitors cannot offer.

“[Santa Barbara] doesn’t really have any bookstores. I’m the type of person who likes to go into a bookstore and look around and see what catches my eye as opposed to just looking online,” Sheehan said. “A lot of times you miss things that you would normally not see if you don’t know about it.”

According to Sheehan, the additional bookstore will encourage increased interest among prospective book buyers.

“If there’s more availability [for books], people will be more inclined to go,” Sheehan said.

The bookstore will be located at 1224 State St. and will begin hiring employees soon.

A version of this article appeared on page 3 of February 22nd 2013′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo Courtesy of Paz & Associates.