Russell Desmond, proprietor of Arcadian Books and Prints in New Orleans, Louisiana, has been called a magician, seemingly able conjure a book just by saying its name. If you’ve ever stepped inside his exceedingly crammed, cluttered (in the best sense of the words) shop, you’ll understand that this is no small feat. The small space is, quite literally, chock full of floor to near-ceiling stacks of books that are piled around the shop, creating a mazelike navigation that leaves very little room to walk, stretch your arms, or even turn around. But don’t let that deter you. It is truly a rather magical place.
Be forewarned: if you have a particular book in mind, don’t expect to walk in and find it without an assist. Many of the books in Arcadian are stacked without the spines facing outward and, at least at first blush, with no discernable structure.
Closer inspection, however, does reveal the shop’s organization, even if it is little more than Russell himself pointing you toward a pile of books all about a particular subject. There are, if you look closely enough, some labels on certain shelves or handwritten on box tops, but the structure stops there. And, of course, there’s room for error. I found a book on Mexican camping alongside a Steinbeck novel.
As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, I love bookstores with piles and stacks of used books to dig through, so I was in Heaven. Bookstore explorers looking for that kind of experience just may meet their match in Arcadian Books and Prints.
The shop is located at 714 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.