A Book Store. That’s Right. Book, Singular.

Guy Calaf for The New York TimesAndrew Kessler, author of “Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days With the Phoenix Mars Mission,” a book about a NASA mission to Mars, sits outside his unusual bookstore on Hudson Street.

At first glance, it looks like a charming independent bookstore, a West Village gem with a window display featuring artful stacks of gleaming hardcovers.

But, wait a minute. Is that one book? Like, many, many copies of the same book?

Selection isn’t the strong suit of Ed’s Martian Book, on Hudson Street, where you can’t buy “Water for Elephants” or anything by Mary Higgins Clark, but 3,000 or so copies of “Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days With the Phoenix Mars Mission” (Pegasus, 2011), by a 32-year-old Brooklyn author named Andrew Kessler, are available for $27.95 each.

The book is Mr. Kessler’s account of NASA’s 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander mission, reported during 90 days inside mission control, in Tucson, alongside 130 leading scientists and engineers. Publishers Weekly calls the book a “slightly offbeat firsthand account of scientific determination and stubborn intellect” that “delivers a fascinating journey of discovery peppered with humor.”

The store is part marketing ploy, to be sure (Mr. Kessler is a creative director at an advertising agency), but also part meditation on the meaning of the book in an age of e-readers and a bankrupt Borders.

“This makes books feel like an art installation,” he said. “We should care about them.”
Guy Calaf for The New York TimesChristopher Schelling and David Rakoff sign the guestbook at Andrew Kessler’s bookstore.

Mr. Kessler said he was inspired byrestaurants like the Meatball Shop on the Lower East Side. “I was thinking about people that just sell one thing really well,” he said. Religions, he reasoned, ply a single book. Why can’t a bookstore? He calls himself the Monobookist.

He is not the first: Walter Swan, a plasterer-turned-author, opened the One Book Bookstore in Bisbee, Ariz., after self-publishing a compilation of stories about his life that publishers had rejected.

Mr. Kessler seemed delighted to learn of Mr. Swan, who died in 1994. Ed’s has inspired some telling responses since Mr. Kessler opened the store on April 12.

“People really project themselves onto the store, when they feel really happy or angry or ask you how you can possibly pay your bills,” Mr. Kessler said one recent evening, as the after-work crowd breezed past, some doing a quick double-take. “It gets pretty intense sometimes.”

One man stomped inside, Mr. Kessler recalled, seemingly pulled in against his own will. “What am I doing here?” he demanded.

After a number of inquiries, Mr. Kessler posted a sign on a chalkboard outside reading, “We have one book, but we’re not Scientologists.”

On Tuesday evening, Paula Faber peeked her head in, asking Mr. Kessler, “Did you ask them how they stay in business selling one book?”

“It’s sort of a new business model,” Mr. Kessler responded, cryptically.

Ms. Faber did not buy the book — “we’re not big Martian fans” — but did resolve to search for the store online.

Next came Wendy Hamilton, 62, a retired nurse with “No more war!” spray-painted in hot pink letters on the back of her jean jacket.

“This is a terrific idea,” said Ms. Hamilton, who had bought the book two weeks earlier and wanted to tell Mr. Kessler how much she was enjoying it.

“I think he’s a genius to do this,” she said.

Around 7 p.m., Christopher Schelling, 48, a literary agent, and David Rakoff, 46, a writer, stopped to look in the window on their way to dinner. CLICK HERE for the full story. 

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