Panoply Books opened as a storefront eight years ago, but owner Roland Boehm says that wasn't always the plan. "Panoply was started almost as a lark by myself and my friend Tina Orphanides," he explains. It began as a pop-up, appearing at book fairs around New York, but as the inventory grew, so did the need for space—so they decided to make a go at having a proper brick-and-mortar store in Lambertville, New Jersey, a town with an above-average number of lovely stores. Boehm knew Lambertville would make a good home, having previously run a shop there. "With a rich tradition of antique stores and art galleries," he says, "and, more recently, great restaurants and inns, Lambertville is a truly unique destination."
Here, Boehm selects three items he deems emblematic of the shop. "These items reflect what we find interesting: conceptual ideas and art, cultural importance, and visually exciting material—all in pieces not easily found anywhere else."
While, yes, you can buy anything online, Boehm makes a good point on the benefit of curated stores like his over the ubiquity of the internet: "Sure, it's easy to purchase something online that you're already aware of," he says. "But it's when you discover the book or album you've never heard of, or never knew existed, that it's a revelation and an inspiration. We try to supply such moments here. Simply put: we seek the important and the unusual." As do we Roland, as do we.
1. The Big Sea by Langston Hughes
"A reasonably scarce copy, in its dust jacket, made even more scarce as it's signed by Hughes. An innovator of jazz poetry, Hughes is one of the most important figures of the Harlem Renaissance, and was instrumental in bringing worldwide attention to the rich cultural and artistic movements of the time."
2. Grapefruit by Yoko Ono
"This is a scarce first printing of the London edition, the first edition after a very limited, practically impossible-to-find edition printed in Japan in 1964. Her achievements as an artist were somewhat overshadowed by her relationship with John Lennon, but the importance of Ono as a conceptual artist cannot be overstated."
3. Harlem on My Mind
"This is a very scarce vinyl recording from 1969 that was actually put out by MoMA in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name. We recently began to carry vinyl LPs and this particular album is not only visually exciting, but also represents a landmark exhibition which raised quite a controversy in its day."