Horizontal Books on West 25th St., known for stacking books on their sides to make the titles easier to read, is planning to flip its own concept later this year. Co-owner Austin Fedor is changing up the 14-year-old store’s name and business model to give visitors a new place to sip coffee and stop and browse in the heart of Ohio City.
Fedor told The Land he is planning on changing “Horizontal” to “Index Coffee & Books” by the end of the summer, adding what he calls a “multi-roaster concept” with beans from regional coffee makers throughout the country. It will be Cleveland’s first independent bookstore to serve coffee from various roasters alongside books.
“There’s not a lot of places during the day to come and hang out on West 25th Street and sit down,” Fedor said. “A lot of it is bars and restaurants. I wanted to give people another option.”
The current sign will be replaced by a new logo and signage distinguishing Index from Nate’s Deli next door. A new paint job and up to a dozen tables will greet patrons inside. Fedor is also planning on adding new interior lighting.
He says there’s a brewing market for coffee within walking distance of the West Side Market. “There’s a good amount of coffee surrounding this whole Ohio City area but not too much that’s walkable from the Market,” he said. “You have a couple options but in my opinion, I’d like to bring something more on the specialty side to the street.”
Currently, the nearest coffee crafter is Koffie Café, behind Market Square Park on Market Avenue. Aside from City Roast Coffee and Tea inside West Side Market, the east side of West 25th is barren of baristas and Fedor intends to up the convenience factor.
Fedor spent four years as a retail operations manager at Cleveland’s Rising Star Coffee Roasters. This informs the 28-year-old as he sets out to purchase coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab in Arkansas, Madcap Coffee in Detroit and Heart Coffee Roasters, out of Portland.
That’s still a wish list of potential providers, but Fedor feels confident that his time spent setting up purchasing accounts for Rising Star will help him negotiate with each supplier.
Fedor and co-owner David Kallevig plan to do much of the work themselves.
Alongside the promise of caffeine stands Horizontal’s deep discount system. By purchasing new titles from overstock vendors, Horizontal is able to keep prices low. The shop sells individual books at half their market price, and purchases of multiple books are eligible for even steeper discounts.
The other quirk at Horizontal is its habit of stacking books horizontally. This, Fedor said, improves the browsing experience as spines lie supine on shelves hand-built by Kallevig, allowing customers to browse more easily.
Fedor is hopeful the proven concept of pairing coffee and books will help keep Index busy during the week and the slower days when the market isn’t open.
“I think [the concept] will set us apart quite a lot,” Fedor said. “People that are into coffee will be excited to see a bag of Madcap on the shelf that they can buy, and we’ll have a lot of offerings for people that maybe aren’t that into coffee, too. [We want] to appeal to everybody.”
Collin Cunningham is a freelance journalist who lives in Tremont.