What would happen if you took two highly respected writers and media entrepreneurs accustomed to competing in the rat race of Silicon Valley, offered them a serene life in the Coachella Valley, and told them they could now create their dream? You would get something many here have been yearning years for – a bookstore.
But it won’t be just any bookstore. Using a touch of marketing savvy they picked up while building successful careers, Paul Bradley Carr and Sarah Lacy are naming the new venture “The Best Bookstore In Palm Springs.”
“We named it that so our ambition won’t outgrow it,” Lacy said, adding that in the corporate world, they are often expected to scale their companies massively in order to appease investors. This venture has only one simple goal: “We hope to delight in ways other bookstores can’t.”
“We’ve started several media companies,” Lacy explained as she offered a tour of the space that formerly held Interstellar Comic Books & Collectibles and will soon house the couple’s bookstore. “It’s an amazing privilege when somebody gives you millions of dollars to build something. But that comes with pressure.
“This is the antithesis of any Internet business.”
It will also be the antithesis of what book lovers throughout the Coachella Valley have experienced since corporate-run Barnes and Noble in Palm Desert became what is believed to be the only remaining brick-and-mortar bookstore in the area. Interstellar, which specialized in comic books and collectibles, closed earlier this summer. The Book Rack used bookstore in La Quinta closed just last month.
Carr is both a prolific writer and prolific reader, polishing off roughly a book a day. He was a technology columnist for The Guardian and a senior editor at TechCrunch. His 2021 novel, 1414º, is a fast-paced murder mystery set in familiar territory. “There is no keener observer of Silicon Valley sociopaths than Paul Bradley Carr,” one reviewer wrote.
Lacy reported on Silicon Valley for two decades as a staff writer and columnist for BusinessWeek, a senior editor at TechCrunch, and as the founding co-host of Yahoo Finance’s Tech Ticker. In her spare time, she managed to author three critically-acclaimed books about the tech industry, create the website Pando, and, along with Carr, launch ChairmanMe, a learning and networking platform built for working women “and other badasses.”
At ChairmanMe, Lacy and Carr specifically created “an intersectional, accessible learning space where our members can improve their lives.” They’re aiming for something similar but on a smaller scale in Palm Springs.
When it opens, between 7,000 and 10,000 new books will be on display in 1,025 square feet. The atmosphere will be designed more for browsing than bustle, with the goal of becoming an inviting hub for not only locals but visitors who might be looking for something to read poolside.
Carr, who is busy curating the initial offerings, said he expects to pivot the stock based on customer feedback that comes as he and Lacy dive deeper into a shared passion.
“We love, both of us, nothing more than talking about books,” he said.
Like many who transplant themselves here after a life spent grinding it out in a major metropolitan city, they also love the desert. Both first visited years ago while attending separate conferences. Carr soon found himself returning several times a year “to focus and finish my books,” while Lacy came to be at ease.
“The city itself is a story, going back to the Cahuilla tribe and the healing waters,” Lacy said of Palm Springs, where the couple planted roots. “That sense of ease is why this place exploded during the pandemic.”
But while visitors and transplants were flocking to the city and discovering the same magic that many locals have known their whole lives the past two years, they also found something locals knew was missing.
“The fact there’s no bookstore here is madness,” Carr said. “I know there are stores in town that sell books. But a town should have its own dedicated bookstore.”
Starting in late November, the valley will have The Best Bookstore.
More information: True to their backgrounds, Carr and Lacy recently launched the bookstore’s website. They’re asking for input from the community and offering a chance for $500 in store credit for providing it. Click here to help them out.