A Point Loma daughter-and-pop independent bookstore has added a new employee to strengthen its book-selling team moving forward. Marianne Reiner, formerly of Run for Cover Bookstore in Ocean Beach, has joined La Playa Books at 1026 Rosecrans St.
Operated by Amy Hesselink, La Playa Books is celebrating its fifth anniversary this October in its retail space, which has been a bookstore since the early ’90s. Hesselink’s 87-year-old dad, Point Loma native Jim Hall, bought the bookstore she now manages.
“She's a dedicated bookie and magical at placing the right book in your hands,” said Hesselink of her friend Reiner, who ran Run For Cover, which sold new books online with home delivery but was forced to close by the pandemic. “Please welcome her and say hello on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in our store.”
Hesselink noted La Playa is also pleased to bring Reiner on board because she “has the entrepreneurial spirit, a lot of activism and relationships in the community. We’re excited to connect OB and Point Loma, and be the bookstore for both sides of the hill.”
Reiner noted in a letter to the community that her initial experience as a bookseller with Run For Cover was “a crazy adventure that changed my life for the better. I got to meet and know so many of you through our shared love of books and stories. When I had to make the gut-wrenching decision of closing the brick-and-mortar store during the first year of the pandemic, I was amazed at the amount of love and support I received. I do hope you will choose to continue placing your trust in local booksellers and bring your patronage to La Playa Books, where we will be so happy to continue to help pair you with the right books.”
Hesselink pointed out La Playa Book’s main competition is with online booksellers adding “online can never provide the experience you get with retail booksellers, like story time, which we’re going to start next week. You don’t get story time online. You don’t get that face-to-face experience online. We also bring in authors of some books and have writing workshops. The community support by independent bookstores is so unique.”
Reiner never saw Run For Cover and La Playa Books as competitors trying to supplant each other. But rather, she viewed their relationship as collaborators with each working jointly to build the market “on the other side of the hill. I had new books and Amy’s focus was mainly on used books. We were colleagues and friends with the same goal.”
Added Reiner: “Amy has a combination now of used and new books that is wonderful because people can come to the bookstore and get a good deal. I’m very optimistic about the future with the model Amy has created, with the bookstore staying part of this community. And a number of people are still discovering us. There are still so many readers, so many minds, that we can still get to know.”
Hesselink noted she took over La Playa Books from the previous owner who retired and made significant changes to improve the in-person experience. “We made it more organized, more walkable,” she said adding, “It used to be books in boxes on the floor you had to dig through to find a book. We modernized it, made it a lot easier to find a book.”
Hesselink said La Playa has broadened its book selection during the pandemic.
“We have a very large children’s section, which having Marianne on board will help because she has two kids and knows that genre well,” Hesselink said. “We are a general use and new bookstore. That means we have all sorts of genres, from fiction and literature to history, beautiful art books, and science. We’re also known for our rare and antiquarian (antique) books. People also come to us for our miniature book collection.”
Hesselink said independent booksellers have survived because “we actually provide customers with a hands-on experience that’s missing from online stores. It’s up to the communities to recognize that and to support the independents.”
LA PLAYA BOOKS
Where: 1026 Rosecrans St.
Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Contact: laplayabooks.com, 619-226-2601.