“I figured, if I didn’t take the leap now, I’d just get more scared as time goes on.”
That was the risk Kate Layte took when she decided to open her very own indie bookstore in Jamaica Plain. Now, after two years of planning, learning, fundraising, and prep, the Central Mass. native will finally open up her new shop, Papercuts JP, to the public November 29, a.k.a. Small Business Saturday.
The phrase “great things come in small packages” certainly applies to Papercuts, which occupies a 500-square-foot space near the intersection of Green and Centre streets. High ceilings, hardwood floors, and homey decor including works by local artists make the space cozy and inviting. A holiday section is decorated with construction paper.
“I love paper crafts,” Layte explained. The name of the bookstore comes partially from the book Paper Cut by Owen Gildersleeve, one of several of Layte’s favorite books visitors will find around the store.
Layte, who says she is anti-genre, has already stocked the shelves with all sorts of gems. Starting out with about 3,500 titles, Papercuts has fiction, nonfiction, science and nature, art and design, humor, cookbooks, graphic novels, kids’ books, local books, poetry, biography and autobiography, and more. Some of these only fill half a shelf, but that’s where Layte’s expert eye comes in.
“I think technology has made print books way easier to do really complicated things and layouts,” Layte said. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to do here: only stock the stuff that’s beautiful, that’s really good to hold. You can tell it’s printed well, that someone really cared about the design, the layout, the text, the paper stock, all those little details.”
Though you’ll find plenty of bestsellers and well-known classics in the store, Layte aims to keep Papercuts stocked with books that have that something special, whether it’s books made by kids at 826 Boston; books by authors she thinks are overlooked, like Richard Lange; and books with inspired designs.
I woke up two years ago, I was at Little, Brown—and that was my career goal, to work at Little, Brown—and I thought, Oh no, I’m here, what do I do next?
Layte has a long background of working around books, having previously worked at Borders and in the editorial department at Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. She first started at Hachette while still in school at UMass, working in customer service.
“It’s a really interesting place to start because you learn everything all at once,” Layte said. “I remember people calling and assuming you’d act like a sales rep, like you’ve read every book of your hundreds of thousands of books that you have available. I learned a lot right away, but it was a difficult job, talking to people who have a problem. It was tough, but it was character-building.”
She decided she wanted to work closer with the books, went to BU to earn a certificate in publishing, and became an assistant to the senior managing editor at Little, Brown.
“Then I woke up two years ago, I was at Little, Brown—and that was my career goal, to work at Little, Brown—and I thought, Oh no, I’m here, what do I do next?” Layte said.
By now, she’d already resided in Jamaica Plain for a couple years, and loved the neighborhood’s history and style. An appreciation of literature is “deeply entrenched in this neighborhood,” and she decided to take a chance and try to open her own bookstore.
Layte took online business classes, worked with the Small Business Association, and attended free sessions at the BPL to learn what she needed to know. She used her previous work experiences to connect with publishers, asked friends to submit lists of their favorite books, and even before opening has already started asking the public on social media what books they’d like to see at Papercuts.
“I just want it to be a place where interesting people can come and talk about interesting things. I want it to be a place where people can learn. I want it to be exciting.”
Papercuts JP opens November 29 at 5 Green Street in Jamaica Plain. For more info, visit facebook.com/papercutsjp.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2014/11/19/papercuts-jp-new-jamaica-plain-bookstore-opening/
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