Avast: Pittsburgh's East End Book Exchange Morphing into White Whale Bookstore

Adlai and Jill Yeomans (photo: Littsburgh.com)

Jill and Adlai Yeomans, both of whom formerly worked in editorial at Hachette Book Group, have purchased the East End Book Exchange in Pittsburgh, Pa., and are relaunching it as the White Whale Bookstore this coming Friday, October 14, the Pittsburgh Tribune reported. The Exchange has sold primarily used books, but the Yeomans plan to increase the share of new books to about half of all inventory.

East End Book Exchange had been owned by Lesley Rains, who is manager of City of Asylum Books, which just opened in Pittsburgh as part of Alphabet City.

"We were not planning to buy or planning to start a bookstore," Jill Yeomans said. "We had talked about doing it as a one-day-when-we-retire dream. But when Lesley decided to sell, it made us think about it as something that could maybe be possible."

"The city has a wealth of used bookstores, but, in terms of places that offer new books, it's really limited for a city this size," Adlai Yeomans added. "We saw that as an area to grow, but aside from that it's where our passion lies. We love searching for emerging writers and our favorite contemporary writers who are putting out new stuff."

Besides adding new books to the inventory, the new owners have been painting, adding new signage and doing some minor remodeling. They plan to expand the already strong events program, and keep and develop the categories that have drawn customers.

According to Littsburgh, the White Whale will focus on a mix of fiction and nonfiction as well as a range of children's titles. The store will also have a table that highlights a different indie press each month.

As for the store's name, the Yeomans said, "Having the store's name be a sendup to one of the all-time great books was too good to pass up, and Moby Dick fit the bill. We loved the idea of the White Whale as metaphor--an ambition you have, a goal you're constantly striving toward. We saw that in ourselves with running the bookstore, and we see it in our relationships with our customers, with helping them find the perfect book when they're here. There's also the scary side of the metaphor. Running a small business is a risk, and we don't want to end up like poor Ahab. We liked the honesty in that, but we hope that with enough guts, we'll prevail."

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