About Us

Writers & Books promotes reading and writing as lifelong activities for people of all ages and backgrounds to enrich their lives and the intellectual, social, and cultural vibrancy of their communities.

We believe in the power and importance of the written word; in celebrating the written word as a tool for communication and an art form; that storytelling is a vital aspect of the human experience that unites humanity; that reading builds empathy and brings people together; and in creating a safe space for voices of all backgrounds, beliefs, origins, and abilities.

To be a leading resource that celebrates diverse voices and fosters thriving communities of readers and writers.

Writers & Books commits to an antiracist philosophy and practice. We commit to making our programs welcoming and accessible to readers and writers from all backgrounds. We commit to continually educating ourselves and to transforming our organization in support of justice, equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion. In our program of literary services, we commit to amplifying marginalized voices throughout our community and resisting the legacies of systemic racism and discrimination that have both formed and undermined our city. As a literary arts organization we understand that silence is complicity.

Writers & Books would like to call attention to the complex and troubled history of the lands and waterways on which we live and work. We acknowledge that we are beneficiaries of the intentional exclusions, genocide, and erasure of Indigenous peoples. We invite you to join us in honoring the lands and waterways we occupy and the histories of their Indigenous peoples, stewards of these resources for centuries; and in paying respect to these communities, who are a vital part of the past, present, and future of the places we now call home.

Writers & Books sits on the unceded, ancestral homelands of the Onöndowa’ga or “the people of the Great Hill.” In English, they are known as the Seneca people, “The Keeper of the Western Door.” Together, with the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Tuscarora, the Seneca make up the sovereign Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Acknowledgment is only the beginning of our effort. Through engagement with the written and spoken word, Writers & Books  is committed to welcoming and uplifting a wide range of perspectives with the goals of dismantling ongoing legacies and repercussions of settler colonization; promoting Indigenous peoples’ myriad, essential contributions to art, culture, and society; and implementing sustainable and equitable social, economic, and environmental practices in our day-to-day operations.

Founded by Joe Flaherty, Writers & Books incorporated as a 501-c-3 nonprofit in 1981, and in 1985, moved to its three-story home in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. Today, the organization delivers a robust calendar of public programs, including Rochester Reads, a community-wide one-book project; SummerWrite, a reading and writing camp annually serving youth K-12; writing workshops for adults; reading series; and panels and talks. Writers & Books owns and operates Ampersand, an in-house independent bookstore, and Gell: A Finger Lakes Creative Retreat, a 24-acre site in Naples, NY.




Writers & Books begins its literary life as The Book Bus, a mobile bookstore and book distributor. Founded and operated by Joe Flaherty, The Book Bus travels throughout the northeastern United States, engaging new audiences with small press books and their authors.


With Joe Flaherty at the helm, The Book Bus ceases its travels and is reimagined as Writers & Books, operating out of a storefront in a commercial/residential neighborhood in Rochester, NY.


SummerWrite, WAB’s flagship program for youth, launches.


Writers & Books is named one of NY State’s Primary Arts Organizations by the New York State Council on the Arts.


Writers & Books receives a bequest of a 24-acre property in Naples, NY, supported by an endowed fund administered by the Rochester Area Community Foundation.


Gleason Lodge at Gell: A Finger Lakes Creative Retreat, Naples, NY, is constructed.


Writers & Books inaugurates Rochester Reads, a city-wide one-book program, with Ernest Gaines as featured novelist.


The 740 University Avenue facility is expanded and upgraded to include a glass-enclosed atrium with accessible entrance, elevator, and restrooms.


Writers & Books conducts a successful capital campaign, paying off its mortgage on 740 University Avenue and establishing a reserve fund.

Joe Flaherty retires and is succeeded as executive director by Kyle Semmel.


The organization’s first Strategic Plan is written.
Alison Meyers assumes the position of executive director in May 2019.
Ampersand Books, WAB’s in-house indie bookstore, is established in September 2019.