By the end of the month, Atomic Books will be gone.
But don't worry -- it's just moving down the street, to the bigger space currently occupied solely by Atomic Pop.
With the merger, owner Benn Ray says he hopes to have a little more down time and a lot more room to showcase the many toys, gadgets, artwork and books.
"The new location is just going to be called Atomic Books, but we'll still carry everything from both stores, plus have a little more space to expand," Ray says.
So if you thought you spent too much time in the stores now, just wait till everything's all together; I expect I'll have to retrieve my boyfriend from the place on a regular basis.
You can, of course, keep up with all the changes at the official Atomic Books Blog, as they move their books over to the Falls Road location. Or find them on Facebook. Or MySpace. In fact, they're pretty much impossible to hide from.
A little background
"This year, Atomic Books turned 16!" Ray says. "As a store, we're old enough to drive."
The quintessentially Baltimore book store began with Scott Huffines, a friend of Ray's who started it all in a small space on Read Street. "Scott started Atomic Books as a store that specialized in alternative, underground and fringe publications, comics, zines, weird books, self-published items, outsider art and fiction, etc. -- basically the sort of really cool stuff you couldn't find anywhere else."
The store moved from Read to Charles, from Charles to Maryland Avenue, and then Huffines was forced to file for bankruptcy. So in 2001, Ray and his fiancee/business partner opened their Atomic Books on The Avenue.
Atomic Books boasts of a loyal and diverse customer base. "We have regulars who come in from New York, from Philly, from D.C., Richmond ... as well as, of course, a lot of Hampdenites, Baltimoreans and Marylanders," Ray says.
They see people of all ages, he continues, "and I would say we have an equal mix of male and female customers."
With the motto "Literary Finds For Mutated Minds," Atomic Books unabashedly specializes in the hard-to-define and sometimes downright weird.
"We still focus on carrying stuff the other book stores can't, don't, won't and shouldn't, so we get a lot of people who feel their interests have been marginalized by mainstream culture." That includes a large section on tattoos and body modification, BDSM, art, punk rock and cult films, to name a few. "We have sections on serial killers, sideshow freaks and circuses, conspiracies, strange science." And of course, the store offers a large selection of alternative comics, graphic novels and zines.
Atomic Books hosts various events throughout the year, many that don't necessarily relate to books, but the DIY culture the store thrives on, including art shows and musical performances. There are plenty of activities for booklovers, however.
"We usually bring Found Magazine to town once a year," Ray says. "We frequently host McSweeney's readings and signings." And expect a grand re-opening celebration to come in September.
"Basically, we're super-sizing Atomic Books, and we're very excited about it." Ray explains.
And for a taste of what they're offering now, Ray has a few recommendations for you:
American Virgin Volume 4: Around the World, by Steven T. Seagle, Becky Cloonan and Jim Rugg
Batman: Batman and Son, by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, various
Fart Party, by Julia Wertz (this one is courtesy of Atomic Book Co.)
Red Colored Elegy, by Seiichi Hayashi
The New York Four, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly