Chapter 2 is about to begin for The Next Chapter.
The independently owned bookstore at 204 New York Avenue is gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary with nine days of festivities which begin on Feb. 16. These include discounts, live music, a bookmark contest, and rare book scavenger hunts. Vendors will also be present at a Winter Market, where items such as jewelry and baked goods will be sold.
Mallory Braun, the owner of The Next Chapter previously worked at Huntington’s Book Revue as a rare books manager for over five years.
Book Revue opened in 1977 and was known as Long Island’s largest independent bookstore for more than four decades. Following the store’s closure in 2021, owner Richard Klein offered Braun some books to sell online because he knew that she wanted to work in the industry. However, the South Huntington native didn’t want to do just that.
“I wanted to have a store,” Braun, 30, said. “I thought that the town also desperately wanted there to be a bookstore here.”
Braun turned out to be right, as more than $250,000 was raised on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter over 45 days to support the creation of The Next Chapter.
The store sells both new and used books, a lot of which are given to the store by the local community. People can either sell the books to The Next Chapter for rewards such as store credit or donate them.
Klein, who was one of the owners of Book Revue along with his brother Robert, helps with this process.
“I want to see this store be successful,” Klein said. “If I can help teach some of the younger people and give them the benefit of my experience and contribute in any way through both labor and advice, then I want to do it.”
The Next Chapter is more than just books. The store’s shelves are also lined with records and art.
“A bookstore really can do anything because you can have a book about anything,” Braun said. “If you have a good team and an idea, you can usually make something cool work.”
A strong sense of community is another important factor that has contributed to The Next Chapter’s success.
“A bookstore at its best is a center for an exchange of ideas,” Klein said. “It’s a community center. A bookstore can be a place of learning and interaction. Those are things that have diminished in society over time, and a bookstore is a place where people can recapture that and build culture.”
Longtime Huntington residents who used to spend time at Book Revue have become current customers of The Next Chapter. Some of them, such as Livia D’Anna, are within walking distance of the store.
“I would go to Book Revue every single day basically,” D’Anna said. “I’d spend hours doing homework there in high school. It’s nice to have a spot that I can come to now.”
Tara Bie, a resident of Rocky Point who regularly visits The Next Chapter with the children she nannies, said that she appreciates the store for its promotion of local Long Island creatives.
“The Next Chapter is definitely one of the staple spots in the community,” she said. “There’s a bunch of people who sell baked goods and arts. It’s really cool to support so many small businesses in one place.”
Long Island authors also have the opportunity to be highlighted at the store through the Local and Independent Author Program.
“If people want to see their book in a bookstore, they can contact us,” Braun said. “If it’s something that we’re interested in, we will offer them to be a part of our consignment program. They can either have the book just in the store or in the store and on our website.”
The Next Chapter’s anniversary comes amid a changing landscape for libraries and bookstores. In November, budget cuts by New York City Mayor Eric Adams prompted public libraries to eliminate Sunday service. In the retail space, Barnes & Noble has closed several of its locations across the country, including its famed Tribeca store.
However, Braun said that she is not concerned about these events impacting business at The Next Chapter, as people are beginning to revalue spaces other than their home or workplace.
“Things are always changing,” she said. “I think if you make a space that’s welcoming and warm, the prices are affordable, and you let people know that you are around, good things will come from that.”
More information on The Next Chapter’s anniversary festival can be found on their website: www.thenextchapterli.com
Anthony Johnson is a reporter with The SBU Media Group, part of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism’s Working Newsroom program for students and local media.