This week, I participated in a reading in New York City’s West Village. All I knew when I entered was that I was going to a new “science fiction” bookstore. That turned out only to be partially true. Ed’s Martian Book is indeed new, but what it stocks is nonfiction, namely author Andrew Kessler’s debut book, Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission (Pegasus). There’s something extremely surreal about being in a store where shelf after shelf, case after case, table after table only have one title. Perhaps that is science fiction-like. It’s mesmerizing, and I kept being tempted to open the books to make sure they weren’t blank inside (I gave in to temptation and, in fact, they were not blank inside). I emailed Kessler to find out more about his mission to Mars and his “crazy” bookstore brainstorm.

Last month, the Huffington Post published a list of some of the best independent bookstores in the country, offering bookish folks the kind of rapturous home-store pride that makes them want to give literary wedgies to other cities’ bookstores.  The article addressed the possibility of indie booksellers’ survival in a time of chain stores and a bad economy, and while I’m not exactly sure how one independent bookstore can be voted the best, I figure there is no greater sign of an independent institution’s health than internecine strife and a bunch of Strand people unafraid to tell City Lights to suck it.