Sarah and Jay Williams at Next Chapter Books, taken September 12, 2023. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

Next week, northeast Detroit will have something it hasn’t seen in years: a new bookstore.

Sarah and Jay Williams founded the new and used book store Next Chapter Books a year ago and established it temporarily out of the Alger Theater last November. But after an outpouring of support and interest from the community, the couple decided to permanently set up their bookstore just down the street at 16555 E. Warren in East English Village. The bookstore will have a soft opening Tuesday ahead of a grand opening on Sep. 23. 

“We’re excited to let the public come in and see and start to run a bookstore and be a part of this community,” Jay said. 

Next Chapter Books got a $50,000 grant from Detroit’s Motor City Match program. A soft opening is set for Tuesday. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

In the back of the store the couple is subleasing space to Detroit-based Eastside Roasterz for a  coffee shop that will be accessible from the street and from inside the bookstore. The Next Chapter Books owners also plan to host storytime events, poetry readings, and continue a monthly book club that they offered at Alger Theater. 

The addition of a coffee shop was highly requested by community members, Sarah said. 

“People really wanted the bookstore to be a bookstore, a co-working space, also a place for meeting up and getting a coffee,” she said, “so we’re excited that’s going to be able to work out.” 

The coffee shop, which will serve espresso drinks and handcrafted Italian sodas, is expected to open later in the fall. Until then, Eastside Roasterz will serve drinks at pop-ups with Next Chapter Books, including at the grand opening. The cafe will also sell baked goods from Been There, Baked That, a new business launched by their daughter who lives in East English Village.

The children’s section of Next Chapter Books on E. Warren Avenue in East English Village. The shop will be northeast Detroit’s only bookstore. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

Putting the bookstore on E. Warren was very intentional. There isn’t another bookstore in the neighborhood, and hasn’t been for years. 

“In terms of a full-time independent book store there’s nothing from Woodward through Grosse Pointe,” Sarah said, unlike in Midtown, Downtown, Northwest and Southwest Detroit which have bookstores. 

“This has always been a dream of ours to have an independent bookstore,” she said. “To see this dream get legs and to be embraced by so many people is really amazing and we’ve fallen in love with this community.”

In July, Next Chapter Books got a $50,000 grant from Motor City Match as one of 76 businesses to receive money in the 23rd round of the city program that supports small businesses. Sarah said the grant was a “huge relief” as they continued remodeling the space and building out an inventory of approximately 3,500 books. The bookstore also features mugs, greeting cards, and soon will have its walls filled with art from local artists. 

“We’re trying to keep money in the city and support local business as well,” Sarah said. 

Susan Newell, a resident in the nearby MorningSide community for about four decades, said she’s seen the neighborhood through ups and downs, but that it seems to be on the upswing. 

“When a bookstore moves into our neighborhood, I think it shows that times are changing,” said Newell, recalling that the neighborhood hasn’t had a bookstore since Borders closed more than a decade ago. 

The Michigan and local authors bookshelf at Next Chapter Books in East English Village. Jay and Sarah Williams will have a soft opening of the store on Tuesday. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

In terms of bookstores, Newell said it’s been “pretty much a desert” in her neighborhood, “so this is a welcome change.”

A new development, The Ribbon, is going in directly across the street as well. The mixed-use, 18-unit apartment building will include a spa and the restaurant Gajiza Dumplings 

Newell said the couple’s commitment to understanding and serving the neighborhood is obvious. 

“You’re gonna find things there that you wouldn’t necessarily find in the Grosse Pointe bookstore,” Newell said, like an abundance of Black authors. She said the Next Chapter owners also know their collection well and always have tailored recommendations. 

The couple said they are in the process of selling their Redford home and moving to the neighborhood and have signed a five-year lease for the E. Warren bookstore location. 

“We get to focus on being a community bookstore, which is pretty exciting,” Sarah said. 

Next Chapter Books will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Jena is a BridgeDetroit's environmental reporter, covering everything from food and agricultural to pollution to climate change.

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