By Melissa Block
Acclaimed as one of the largest independently owned bookstores in the nation, as well as one of the best spots to go not only in German Village but in the whole city of Columbus, Book Loft leaves any passionate reader in awe. It is made up of several buildings from the pre-Civil War Era, connecting to create 32 separate rooms filled with books. These buildings were originally constructed by German immigrants in 1863. A man named Frank Fetch, joined by other members of the community, led a restoration orject to help create the structure that is Book Loft today. The rooms each follow a certain topic, from cooking to arts to even architecture. As well as containing different topics and products, each room differs in its atmosphere, with over 18 sound systems strewn throughout the building, each quietly creating a new mood for each section. Book Loft, like any thriving bookstore, also supplies more than just books, selling many other small products such as CDs, cards, calendars, and more, as well as specialty books like adult colouring books. The interior of book loft is almost maze like, with each room only accessible from one to another, few having multiple entry/exit ways. The circulation, while unique and encouraging an individual to delve deeper into this narrow library of books, is confusing and complex enough that the store includes maps at the front for those not brave enough to venture in blind. The rooms are situated at different elevations, earning the name the Book Loft through this structuring. This structural style also resembles that of a tree house, with the main material being wood and using a system of ladders to reach the very top as well as including a child-like journey through the books. This idea was perhaps purposeful in aiming towards children to encourage them to take interest in the store as an adventure as well as a consumer experience. Unlike the circulation through the store, the actual building is open and easily accessible; from the outside, there are two entrances that are quite publicly placed. One acts as any common entrance does, located at the front facade of the building. The other, more aesthetically pleasing to enter through, is located in the middle of a wide courtyard, open at either end of the street with signs advertising the book-lover’s paradise. Beginning in the courtyard are tables neatly stacked and organized with books, early conditioning for the plethora introduced as one enters the store. Even next to the entrance is a small canopy covering a few shelves and tables of books, inviting people both coming in and going out to take a look.
In contrasting the inside and the outside, the interior utilizes more space in making passages and rooms narrow and small respectively. This allows for more content, however limiting the amount of people and therefore may limit the amount of consumers. However, as compared to the total square feet of the building, with 32 rooms the limited amount of space in each room should not be significant enough to decrease consumerism. However, the outside is open and inviting, maximizing in accessibility for customers.