Interisland Terminal / Of all the artistic retail mediums, the industry for books is probably in the most financial danger right now. Take a look around and bookshops that don’t start with a “B” are no longer in existence. Aside from some smaller shops scattered here and there–like Bookends, Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii and Revolution Books–local booksellers fell victim to the big franchises.
The local creative collective Interisland Terminal recognizes this and has come up with a unique concept for the bookworld and the local art intelligentsia. For two weeks starting on Wednesday, July 28, Reed Space HNL will open its doors at the Waikiki Parc Hotel.
“The concept came up because of concerns about our community as a civic group, mourning the loss of bookstores here,” said Wei Fang, head of art and design curation for Interisland Terminal.
“Independent bookstores in particular; the culture of being able to go in, and browse and look at a really thoughtfully curated selection; and the idea of discovery… It’s an important part of our creative process: being inspired by unexpected things that other people show you. It’s what a really great bookstore can do and we haven’t really seen any in Honolulu. They’ve all disappeared.”
And what is wrong with Borders and Barnes & Noble?
“It’s a manufactured experience. That’s an experience meant for the broad general public. People who work in a creative way, there’s specific things we look for in books and publications. Trends we’re interested in. To have an outlet that focuses on those things is important to us. I don’t think stores like Borders can specifically do that because we’re such a niche group. I won’t go so far as to say [Reed Space HNL] is the solution, but it’s a small step.”
Interisland Terminalʻs “small step” is being engineered by famed New York artist jeffstaple of Staple Design. The establishment is being called a “pop-up bookstore” because the store will only exist for two weeks.
“They’re all brought and curated by jeffstaple so it’s all his personal view, but it’s a great store,” Fang said.
The books chosen will be texts of art, design and architecture. Stock will also be very limited. Some titles may be limited to only three or four copies.
“[People] are going to see a nice selection of international titles and a lot of focus on contemporary culture: street culture, street art, graphics and design culture. They’ll also see a few small items designed by Jeff himself–pens, tote bags, caps…”
On the local end, Reed Space HNL will be selling Hart Wood: Architectural Regionalism in Hawaii by Don J. Hibbard, Glenn E. Mason and Karen J. Weitze as well as Waikiki: A History of Forgetting & Remembering by Gaye Chan. Both titles are from UH Press.
Interisland Terminal itself is a collective whose mission is to nurture the creative captial in Hawaii, meaning that it seeks to prevent what is sometimes referred to as the “brain drain,” when local artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and other creatives leave the Islands because they can’t find work. And without them, a younger generation cannot be nurtured and their absences won’t be filled.
As Fang said, Reed Space HNL may not be the solution for replacing talent that Hawaii has already lost, but it may be a step in the right direction.
Artistic think-tank Interisland Terminal hopes to revive the independent bookshop