On ‘Dash & Lily,’ New York’s Famed Strand Bookstore Sets the Scene for Young Love

We may be more than a week away from Thanksgiving, but if Instagram is to be believed, audiences are chomping at the bit for holiday programming! Netflix is delivering on that front with “Dash & Lily,” a new original series that dropped last Tuesday. Based upon the popular 2011 YA novel “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares,” written by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the romance follows two New York teens, Christmas-loving Lily (Midori Francis) and Scrooge-ish Dash (Austin Abrams), as they fall in love virtually via a journal they surreptitiously pass back and forth during the holiday season.

At the center of both the novel and the festive eight-episode series is the Strand Bookstore, or “The Strand” as it is more commonly known, one of Manhattan’s most historic, famous, and beloved booksellers.

Originally situated on Fourth Avenue’s Book Row, The Strand was established in 1927 by 25-year-old bibliophile Benjamin Bass. The small emporium, initially filled with used tomes from Bass’ own collection, was named in honor of London’s Strand, a bustling street in Westminster where countless literary luminaries like Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson have resided. 

In 1956, Benjamin’s son, Fred, took over management of The Strand and the following year moved it around the corner to its current home, a sprawling three-and-a-half-story space at Broadway and E. 12th Street. The store is still a family-run operation today, more than nine decades after its inception, with Fred’s daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden, currently at the helm. Incredibly, up until this year, the shop has managed to thrive where most others have failed, surviving the Great Depression, the recession of the early aughts, the digital age, and the dawn of Amazon. Of the 48 stores that once comprised Book Row, The Strand is the only one still extant, largely due to its army of highly-knowledgeable employees, expansive inventory, and wherewithal of Fred, who purchased the building that houses it in 1996, thereby erasing the possibility of unexpected rent hikes or forced relocation.

Today, the sprawling nonagenarian store offers over 2.5 million new and used titles and, pre-COVID, was tended to by 240 employees. Though it’s longtime motto states that the marketplace is populated by “18 miles of books,” the current total, per the Huffington Post, is closer to 23 miles! That measurement is gleaned “by book spines, exactly how they sit on the shelf.” The pandemic has been tough to bear, though.

For more Dirt on The Strand from “Dash & Lily,” click over to the gallery.

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