Tag Archives: Used Bookshops

If The Strand Bookstore is Not Doomed, Then What’s Going On?

The Legendary Strand Bookstore Sure Looks Like It Will Soon Be Out Of Business

The Writing Is Not On The Wall, But On The Shelves

Outside Strand Bookstore April 2021

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was playing over the sound system at the Strand Bookstore on Broadway and 12th Street this week. It’s a classical composition heightened with drama and a dirge-like quality. And unfortunately it suits the current state of Strand.

The atmosphere of Strand now resembles a morgue. It’s a shell of what it has been to generations of New Yorkers.

A Store In Trouble

While the pandemic has put thousands of retail shops down for the count permanently, the 94-year-old Strand has tenaciously hung in there. Labor disputes at the store have been featured in the news and an appeal to buyers to support the Strand made International news headlines in the autumn.

But from what I’ve seen, it appears that saving the Strand will be difficult. Continue reading

Brooklyn or is it Booklyn? Rare & Collectible Books At The Brooklyn Expo Hall

The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair In Greenpoint

There’s new life in the used and rare book world. That’s the way it seemed to the many dealers who were exhibiting Saturday, September 9 at the Brooklyn Expo Center 79 Franklin Street, Greenpoint. The variety of material for sale here has made this show a go-to destination for bibliophiles seeking a great find.

It has sometimes been a challenge to interest new collectors considering an entire generation has been brought up in the digital age and do all of their reading on a screen.

Yet they they were. Younger people attending a book show and displaying interest in rare and collectible books.

Looking around the crowd it was noticed that there were quite a few people who were of Generation X , Y and even Z in attendance.

Exposing the passion of book collecting to the kids at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

This is a good sign for collectible book dealers that have been trying to reach younger people and share their knowledge and passion for collecting books printed on good old fashioned paper.

Dealer Peter Austern of Brooklyn said he tried to “exhibit things that were unusual and might appeal to the collectors who are very specific in their wants.” He added that the show being in this part of Brooklyn “tends to attract a different, younger sort of crowd.”

Regarding the venue itself, the natural light and high ceilings at the Brooklyn Expo Center are a nice change to the sometimes crowded and poorly lighted places that shows are often held in. Continue reading

A Visit To The New York City Book and Ephemera Fair

Three Antiquarian Book Shows In New York City This Weekend – A Quick Look At The Newest One

A view of the floor of the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair  - Wallace Hall St. Ignatius Loyola Church April 11, 2015

A view of the floor of the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair – Wallace Hall St. Ignatius Loyola Church April 11, 2015

With book lovers from all over the world descending upon New York York City for the ABAA’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair from April 9 -12 2015, two satellite shows containing about 50 dealers each displayed their wares at nearby locations.

Display of fine books at the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair

Display of fine books at the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair

So this morning I had a chance to check out one of the shows The New York City Book and Ephemera Fair, at a location that to my knowledge has never held a book show; Wallace Hall at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Ave and 84th Street.

The show produced by Marvin Getman, was well lit, spacious and chock full of top book dealers from all over the country and Canada.

Many dealers seemed happy with the turnout and for a $15 admission fee the public was able to see some high quality books at mostly affordable prices.

The display case of Wiggins Fine Books, Shelburne Falls, MA

The display case of Wiggins Fine Books, Shelburne Falls, MA

The selection was wide, ranging from signed and first editions to ephemeral early punk rock magazines to science fiction classics to incunabula.

Several dealers featured art, photography and architecture books which seemed to moving briskly.

Children’s books were carried by many dealers and selling for fair prices. A first edition A Pocket for Corduroy a classic by Don Freeman with the dustjacket was offered at $600. Continue reading

The Difficulties Of The Used Book Store Business

Thinking Of Opening A Used Bookstore? “Don’t Do It!” Advises Bookseller Greg Gibson

Interior of Iliad Bookshop North Hollywood California

Interior of Iliad Bookshop North Hollywood California

Greg Gibson, the owner of the Ten Pound Island Book Company wrote about his nearly 40 year odyssey in the world of second hand books and used book stores in an excellent article called “Don’t Do It!” published here. You don’t have to be interested in collecting or  the book business to enjoy this very well written story.

Many people who love books, daydream about setting up a second hand book shop. Not the paperback emporiums or remainder stores that dot many towns throughout the country, but a real general used book store where when you walk in there is an aroma of old books and the possibility that a customer will find a long sought after treasure.

Running a used book store is a profession that will not make you rich and runs counter-intuitive to the notion that publishing is in a perpetual state of decline and printed books are dying.

Used bookstores that keep regular hours that are open to the public are called open shops. Where there were literally thousands of open shops in the United States twenty years ago,  there are about 1,000 in existence today, victims of a combination of an aging populace; both proprietors and collectors/readers, changing technology and rising rents.

Fewer people have the opportunity to apprentice in a used book store and get the experience necessary to open their own book business. Barely making enough money to survive also discourages many young people from considering books as a career. This is why it is mostly retirees who will entertain the book store notion as a career. The internet has changed the pricing structure for used books and many people who deal in used books do so via mail order through the internet or by eBay without a thorough knowledge of books.

While not completely a warning against going into the book business, the article does describe the lessons Gibson took many years to learn. If you still have dreams of running a used book store, you can get some valuable advice from Gibson before you start on your venture.

A Tragic Way To Go Out Of Business

The Last Used Book Store in Downtown Worcester, Has a Devastating Fire

Although I somehow never made it to the Ben Franklin Bookstore in Worcester, MA, I have been in many shops like it and they are just all going out of business slowly but surely.

Worcester used to have many used book shops including a great one owned by Manasha Bilsey, Another Story Used Books, which he closed in 2003 because as he put it “the Internet has made used book stores not salable as a business model.”  Metropolitan areas have a hard time sustaining these types of businesses unless the proprietors of the store also own the building. This is often not the case, as buying the building is usually not a financially feasible option. Even owning the building is sometimes not enough to prevent the inevitable in what is becoming a vanishing occupation, proprietor -used book shop, open to the public. Continue reading