Ever since he moved to Dallas, Tex., from North Carolina to start Deep Vellum Publishing two and a half years ago, Will Evans has planned to open a bookstore. The independent publishing house, though, came first: Deep Vellum published its first translated work of literature in December 2014, and has published 10 translated books altogether in its first year. Now, Evans is getting ready to open Deep Vellum Books, an independent bookstore and cultural center specializing in independent presses, in the city's Deep Ellum neighborhood.
"When I moved to Dallas, there wasn't a single independent bookstore that sold new books," recalled Evans. At the time, Dallas didn't have very much of a literary scene, and promoting a vibrant literary culture in the city was one of his goals for creating Deep Vellum Publishing. Since then, an independent bookstore called the Wild Detectives opened in Dallas's Oak Cliff neighborhood, and now Evans is finally about to open a store of his own. "As part of my mission I knew I'd have to open a bookstore."
Deep Vellum Books will be a 900-square-foot bookstore that sells new titles published by small presses, with an emphasis on translation. Evans expects to stock around 1,500 titles initially, and the inventory will include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, chapbooks, literary journals and zines, as well as some Spanish-language books. Deep Vellum Books will also have a bar with a small selection of beer and wine, along with coffee and possibly some snacks. And though they'll share the same building, Deep Vellum Books will be a separate LLC from the publishing house, which is a 501c3 nonprofit. The former will also carry titles published by the latter.
"We're in a neighborhood of bars and coffee shops; we don't want to compete in that world," said Evans. "We want it to complement what we do, not specialize in it. We want to be a bookstore that happens to sell some drinks."
Evans intends to hire a manager and several booksellers to run the store, and envisions nightly events being Deep Vellum Books's "bread and butter." On the literary side, the store will host book clubs, translation and writing workshops, performance literature events--in which actors read poetry and prose--and launch events for new books from Deep Vellum Publishing. Evans would also like to start some sort of writer- and translator-in-residence program, though he has yet to iron out the details. On the non-literary side, Evans wants to host live music, art shows and film screenings.
Evans is also looking to expand Deep Vellum Publishing's educational programs, which have included bookmaking classes and writing workshops with local high schools and universities. Partnerships with some other nonprofits in the area, he said, are also in the works.
The launch party for Deep Vellum Books, featuring drinks and snacks, is scheduled for this Wednesday, December 9. The event schedule will really kick off, though, on January 5, with a Deep Vellum Book Club event featuring Sergio Waisman, translator of Ricardo Piglia's Target in the Night, which Deep Vellum published in November, and a grand opening is tentatively planned for sometime in February. And though Evans won't be running the store day to day, he plans to have a big role.
He added: "the bookstore is definitely my baby." --Alex Mutter