A room without books is like a body without a soul. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Books amuse, inform, and inspire. Regardless of size or location, intentionally curated collections are an extension of a reader’s style and tastes. An unexpected splash of color on a coffee table sparks an evening’s conversation. A bookshelf in a meeting room reflects corporate values and grounds employees in empathy and compassion. A casually stacked selection in a lobby or guest room sets the tone for a weekend visit. Whether on a nightstand or in a living room, books surprise, comfort, and delight the human soul.

Curation service

We work directly with individuals or through designers to create a collection that suits any taste or style. Our relationship-based approach assures a selection that complements an existing library or establishes a new one.

  • Budget accommodation at all levels
  • New or gently used books
  • Existing private, corporate, municipal, restaurant, and boutique hotel clients
  • Bulk buying for book and social clubs
  • Extensive network of publishers, distributors, writers, and bookshops
  • Presentation and preservation support

Our wrapped Blind Date with a Book is the perfect shower favor or swag bag gift.

Arlan Hess, City Books Owner

Photo: Elan Mizrahi

Arlan received an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has completed research at the University College of Wales-Aberystwyth and at the University of Padua, Italy. She taught Literature & Creative Writing for 17 years before purchasing City Books in 2015. In addition to managing Pittsburgh’s oldest bookstore, she hosts Shelf Life, a televised book show about Pittsburgh authors and literary topics relevant to western Pennsylvania & the tri-state region; leads Arts & Literature tours around the old Allegheny West neighborhood; and directs the City Books Writer-in-Residence program for emerging & marginalized writers. With over 30 years in books and publishing, her local and national credits include food, music, and travel writing.


We are really excited about providing a library space for our residents. Thanks for all your efforts.–Kelly W.

None of these are books I’ve seen or heard of, but they seem to fit my tastes really well.-Shannon H.

I’m blown away by how amazing your choices are. –Elizabeth R.

If you or someone you know is interested in custom curation, please contact City Books. We can accommodate any budget.

Right click the image below to save & share our custom curation flyer.