Kramerbooks & Afterwards

The Place: Kramerbooks & Afterwards

Where: Connecticut Avenue and Q Streets NW

Why Live Near Here: The theme of a lot of the P&S posts lately has been “live near this Place because the weather blows and there’s not a lot to do, but this place is awesome not ONLY on crappy days but ESPECIALLY on crappy days…” and this place definitely fits into that category. Bookstores are the perfect rainy/snowy/wintery mix getaways, especially ones that have a full service cafe that can keep you nourished while you wait for the weather to let up so you can run out to catch your cab home. The person who wants to live near this spot is likely a bibliophile and one who enjoys a bookstore that, as Kramers puts it, has stuck around “through expansions, subpoenas, and innumerable neighborhood changes.”

Things to Know: At the time of its opening in 1976, Kramerbooks & Afterwords was the first bookstore/café in Washington DC in a building that was originally an automobile showroom. It has been a Dupont Circle stable and was well known throughout the city as a great first date or any-hour-of-the-day place to chow, but it gained national attention 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

At this time, Kramers successfully fought a subpoena from Kenneth Starr to disclose which books Monica Lewinsky had purchased at their bookstore. Initially when the subpoena was first issued, it was incorrectly reported that Kramer’s management would comply and the store was subsequently picketed. Management chose to fought the subpoena citing the First Amendment but the U.S. District Judge presiding over the case ordered Kramer’s management to hand over the information to Starr. Kramers refused stating that, if necessary, they would go to U.S. Supreme Court with the issue. Kramer’s management and Lewinsky’s lawyers eventually reached an agreement and the store’s integrity was preserved.

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