Independent Bookstore Downbound Books Opens in Northside

Owner Greg Kornbluh partners with community members to curate a unique selection of literature.

Photograph by Bill Bogenschutz

Northside is known for its eclectic mix of coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques. To add to the neighborhood’s hip aesthetic, Cincinnati native Greg Kornbluh opened Downbound Books in late October on Apple Street in the old Park Café space that had been vacant since its closing in 2006.

Kornbluh, who has worked at various bookstores, had always toyed around with the idea of opening his own store, but the timing never seemed right. In 2005, he moved to the east coast, where he attended graduate school and workedin the publishing industry for almost 10 years.Last November, Kornbluh returned to Cincinnati not knowing if he would stay in the area, but decided if he did, it would be to open a bookstore. When he discovered the former Park Café space, he knew it was time to move forward with his plans. “Since I’ve been thinking about it for so long and have strong opinions about bookstores, I knew a lot about the kind of store I wanted to have, and I knew that it wouldn’t work everywhere.” Kornbluh says. Northside, however, was the perfect location.

Photograph by Steve Paszt

Downbound Books has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood since its late October opening. “A lot of people in the neighborhood have been watching this building do nothing for a long time, so that was part of the excitement in people coming right in” Kornbluh says.

On the shelves, customers will find a mix of bestseller books alongside works from independent presses that aren’t widely available at big name bookstores. “We want to have what people are looking for, but we also want to have a lot of what they weren’t looking for because that’s the key difference between a physical bookstore and Amazon,” Kornbluh says. “The great thing about [independent bookstores], is they’re all different and they’re all really reflective of the interests of the owner and the people who work there.” One unique interest found at Downbound Books is a varied selection of books on woodworking, due to Kornbluh’s background and fondness for carpentry. This collection includes books published by Covington-based Lost Art Press, whose books can only be found at select independent bookstores.

Photograph by Bill Bogenschutz

Supporting local makers and businesses is important to Kornbluh, who partnered with local artist and owner of Paper Acorn, Jessica Wolf, to create decorations for the store, as well as the local maker behind Volcano Goods to created the shop’s cushion covers and curtains. The store also partnered with well-known community members to curate books that offer different perspectives. Tom McKenna of Allez Bakery, for example, curated a selection of books on bread baking.

Kornbluh knows the store won’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but for those it does appeal to, he wants to become a trusted source in providing book recommendations. “We want to be a neighborhood bookstore; we want to be a resource; we want to be supporting things that are happening,” he says. Though he’s still fine-tuning future plans, Downbound Books will soon start hosting weekly storytime for children and hopes to add more regular events later down the road.

Downbound Books, 4139 Apple St., Northside, (513) 541-1394

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