So many Dataloungers are bibliophiles that I thought I'd devote a thread to our favorite long-gone bookstores. Ones that reminded you of growing up with a love of books, even though so many of them have disappeared in the age of amazon.com (which i love, despite my sadness at the many bokstores that are long-gone).
One of my favorites was St. Paul Book & Stationery when I was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was downtown, and so cool: i was bigger than the only other alternative for me, the tiny B. Dalton's in my suburban mall. I would park myself for hours in front of the comics and humor section of SPB&S as a child, and re-read a big collected edition of Buck Rogers in the 31st century (this was back in the 1970s). I remember doing this as a pre-teen once when it was raining very hard outside, and thinking that I was as happy as I knew how to be, safe and warm and reading a fun book.
Sorry: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, not the 31st!
Brock's in San Antonio - I went there as a kid in the 1960s. It was near the Alamo. Room after room of used books. My father came out of there with a grocery bag full of books. I even managed to find kid's mystery novels there. I think there was also a coin shop there.
Duttons in Los Angeles.
Gay book store in the Village on Hudson between Charles and Perry, now an upscale maternity store.
Anyone remember the name?
This Ain't The Rosedale Library in Toronto. It was a great store and the staff was knowledgeable. It was in the gay village on Church Street. The owners (straight) decided to move it to Kensington Market a few years ago and it shut down permanently after that.
I may be way off base but I think the owner's hipster son wanted to boost his hipster cred by having the store in the Market rather than on Church St. Not a great move, as it turned out.
There may have been other reasons, of course. I'm merely speculating.
Wordsworth, Harvard Square.
A Different Light, Creative Visions, and Oscar Wilde.
I was a newspaper geek when I was a teen and loved how larger bookstores used to carry tons of out-of-town newspapers. I remember buying the Toronto Star, Washington Post, L.A Times and others in our local Hawley-Cooke book store in Louisville. Of course there is not much reason today for anyone to sell newspapers that way.
A Different Light on 19th Street in Chelsea
I just lost my Europa bookstore this last year.
The Avenue Victor Hugo in Boston - god I miss that place. It was a favorite store of mine from the time I was about 10-11 through middle age.
I can still order from them online and sometimes I do but it's not the same. If Kate's in Cambridge closes, I'll have to commit ritual suicide. Or something.
Bennett Schneider in Kansas City, MO.
It was a chain, but a beautiful chain.
Besides wonderful books they sold fabulous tchotchkes for your home library.
I am a huge fan of Posman Books in NYC. There is one in Chelsea Market and one in Grand Central Terminal. Are there other locations, too?
What I appreciate is that the store has a point of view. Unlike, Borders or Barnes and Noble, there is a great taste level on display, which is refreshing for a corporate store.
I can wander in there not knowing what I want to read and come out with several great selections I wasn't even aware of, previously.
Micawber's, in Princeton, NJ. Gorgeous store. It's gone now.
Black Kat Adult Bookstore and Video Booths, NJ Route 1 and 9.
I used to manage a Brentano's an flyover country, and I miss it every day. At our store we found a way to circumvent the common-denominator product provided by the corporate buyers and to acquire interesting and offbeat product from our wholesalers, often at zero to five percent markup. Hey, whatever helped us establish a reputation around town.
OP, I remember St. Paul Book and Stationary. I never went to the original store, but they had another location in Minnetonka near the Ridgedale Mall.
Other great Twin Cities bookstores that are now history: The Hungry Mind and Odegard Books in St. Paul; and of course the much lamented Shinder's chain which sold magazines, comic books, sports cards and porn. There was one in both downtowns (Minneapolis and St. Paul), and one near most of the major shopping malls too.
R18: former Waldenbooks employee here in my college days. I was so jealous of you Brentano's people. Was it really any different, other than having a green color scheme (as opposed to the Walden blue)?
I buy every book I read at BookSoup in LA just because I know it's the last man standing. I grew up falling in love with books because of that store and I'll be damned if it ever goes away.
No, PPSM, t was absolutely no different. We had a green Preferred Reader card and green bags, and that was it. Everything else was the same.
You know, towards the end Borders rebranded many of the Waldenbooks stores as "Borders Express" (before they ran out of money and gave up the conversion project). A decade after leaving Brentano's for Barnes & Noble, I had the opportunity to return and manage a Borders Express that had previously been a Waldenbooks for 25 years. *Absolutely nothing* had changed in the intervening decade. The computer (singular) still ran Windows NT4; the LDTs were still from 1989; the payroll was still calculated on that big green paper spreadsheet with a calculator and scratch paper. But...! we could still order in books over the phone from Ingram that were not available from the DC and not even listed in the computer. That initiative differentiated us from the other small-format cookie-cutter stores in our market.
Wow, R22. Soooo many memories are flooding back now. I started as a bookseller at Waldens, quickly made ASM, transferred to Borders for a while, came back to Waldens and then became an SM (store 901!) for a couple of years before quitting to finish my degree. I've had "real" jobs since then, but parts of me really miss my time at Waldenbooks (though m time at Borders was not as pleasant; later hours, having to work shifts in that nasty cafe, etc.). I made some great friends there (my first boss is now also an expat living in Europe), and my most memorable one night stand/moment of sluttiness was at a regional manager meeting in St. Louis.
Preferred Reader cards, LDTs, those DAMN time sheets (entering those into the computer was a BITCH!), Ingram special orders, secret shoppers, Day by Day calendars (did you have to run those damn kiosks?), overnight RGIS inventories with the scariest humanity has to offer...
More than a decade later, and my PR spiel still runs through my head. I can recite it perfectly. :)
I hated it at the time, but I get so nostalgic for it now...
[quote]Day by Day calendars (did you have to run those damn kiosks?), overnight RGIS inventories with the scariest humanity has to offer...
Check, and check. Towards the end even Borders stores had to have remote Day By Day kiosks. Horrible, but they brought the profit.
I was lucky in that my Borders Express was located in the retail arcade of an office building and closed at 7pm M-F (and at 4pm on Saturdays!), so the RGIS nightmare was usually over by 9pm.
Mystery shoppers, auditors and PR all eventually went away, ending a decades-long reign of terror. Towards the end we were required to sign up a certain quota of the free Borders Rewards card, which doesn't sound like any big trauma, but it required harvesting a certain number of email addresses. Failure to get people to activate their card with a valid email address made the signup fail to count; failure to meet your quota of email addresses resulted in FInal Warnings and worse.
We're all in a better place now.
"Glad Day Book Store" in Boston's Copley Square
"We Think The World Of You" book store in Boston's South End.
I loved those two places especially Glad Day. They were both great place to visit when I would return to my home town of Boston for the holidays and in the summer.
R18/22/24...you didn't happen to manage a store in Tennessee, did you?
When Borders came to London they opened some great bookstores, they seemed to be better than in the USA, for some reason. One was five stories high and sold American books before we had amazon.
In NYC I liked B. Dalton. Not sure when that went and Strand, which, thank goodness, is still there.
In LA, Bodhi Tree's gone and it's very sad.
Atlanta's Oxford Books in the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, and its outlet store (in the same place), Oxford Too.
Wordsworth's in Brattle Square in Cambridge, MA. Loved how you had to walk down into it from the street, and it was built around the bottom curve of a building. Very cool, and had a great selection.
The Harvard Book Store (not The Coop, but an independent store called the Harvard Book Store on Mass. Ave.) was a few blocks away and was also really cool--I'm not sure if it's still there, though Wordsworth's is long gone.
No, PPSM, but it was in the South.
Tennessee is in the South.
Damn. My hot one night stand was with a Brentano's manager from Memphis. Holy Jesus was he hot...and that accent...
I need to be alone now.
OMG PPSM I know who that was.
No shit, really?
Another vote for Dutton's in LA. Also, Sisterhood Bookstore, just south of Westwood Villiage. It was THE place for lesbians, and enlightened straight women, to buy books written BY, and FOR, women.
Outwrite Books in Atlanta was the best gay bookstore on earth. I hit every gay bookstore in America and some outside the US, and none could compare. Outwrite had every gay book imaginable, and it had the best author talks ever.
Oxford Books on Pharr Rd. in Atlanta was the best all-purpose book store ever. It was HUGE and it had the most brilliant staff ever assembled. If Oxford didn't have it you probably didn't need it. What a spectacular shrine to the book it was. I am still in shock that such a gem has closed down.
No bookstores in New York, LA, Chicago or San Francisco could hold a candle to these two bookstores in Atlanta.
Another great bookstore from Harvard Square in the late 60s: the Paperback Booksmith, next to Club 47. I was in high school, and my friend Jamie & I would hang out there. We start at Elsie's for a knockwurst Sandwich with German mustard and a vanilla shake. Then we'd go to the Paperback Booksmith and browse the Psychology books, which were full of sex stuff. The bearded hippie at the counter knew exactly what we were doing, but never said anything. That's where I bought Catcher In The Rye and Last Exit To Brooklyn.
Then we'd go to Club 47 where we'd try to get in for the 9PM show, even though we weren't 18. Later, we'd sneak into the MTA station at Harvard Square and get the last train back to the city.
Endicott Booksellers on Columbus and 81st St. Remember when cities had elegant bookstores with smart, literate employees?
[quote]No bookstores in New York, LA, Chicago or San Francisco could hold a candle to these two bookstores in Atlanta.
Well, that may be; but those cities do not have the largest or best bookstores in the country.
The largest (and many say the best) is Powell's in Portland, OR. Also quite large (and exceptionally nice) is the tattered Cover in Denver. They're both bigger than anything in the cities you mentioned.
I can't remember its name but there is (or was?) a wonderful old used book store in Provincetown, Mass. in the middle of Commercial Street where I spent many an hour browsing and buying books to read on the beach or in my cabin at Capt. Jack's Wharf on a rainy day.
IIRC there was a little sort of footbridge that you'd walk over to enter the yellow house that had several rooms of books, categorized by subject, of course.
Haven't been back to Ptown in almost 10 years so the shop may be gone for all I know.
bump for book stores!
R18/33/etc.: Come back please!
Book stores? Geez this is the 21st Century. Either get with the times or get off the Internet. You can't have both
Library, Ltd. in St. Louis. Spent hours there.
Last I heard, Left Bank Books in the CWE is still going strong, though.
The Upper West Side NYC Shakespeare and Co. Endicott was fine, but smaller and snootier.
Powell's selection is amazing, but it is staffed by nothing but typical PDX Reed assholes.
A moment of silence for Bookstop at the Alabama Theater in Houston. Before Barnes & Noble bought it in the 90s, it was the best place in town for 24-hour cruising.
the adult bookstores on 42nd Street
Aspidistra Used Book Shop in Chicago. It was almost a block long and, pretty much, had everything you ever wanted.
Oh, and r.43, grow up.
another cheer for Shakespeare and Company on the UWS
Also a small chain in Northern CA called "A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books" - wonderful stores
[quote] "A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books" - wonderful stores
The stores are nice, but the name gives me gas.
Jay's Book Stall in Pittsburgh, where Michael Chabon used to work while he was a student.
A great bookstore, for sure, but my everlasting memory is that it's where I bought my first gay porno magazine. Stood there for the longest time perusing the rack (looking, but not picking up and leafing through them). Finally, Jay piped up from behind the counter, "The new 'Drummer' is in, sir!" And I turned to him and said, "Oh, then I guess I'll take that!"
Town Centre Books, Pleasanton, Calif. is still going.
Not a "great bookstore" by any stretch but I do miss the old Crown Books chain. Great prices and a good closeouts section. I bought the Andy Warhol Diaries there for cheap. The one in Dupont Circle became Books-A-Million, a sloppy chain I just don't have any love for.
I miss the Barnes and Noble at Broad & Chestnut in Philly. A couple of times a month during lunch, I would go there, find a comfortable spot on a windowsill, and read magazines for free! Of course, this may be why they ended up closing.
[quote] read magazines for free! Of course, this may be why they ended up closing.
Barnes & Noble as a chain is now squarely focused on growing its digital business. They're closing locations that can't sell their Nook tablet effectively when the leases are up. Don't feel too bad about reading magazines for free, haha; there's no margin on magazines anyway. It's *all* about the Nook now.
One Page Bookstore.
Yes, it's sad that bookstores are almost gone, but I really enjoy reading my books and magazine on my iPad.
Sent From My iPad
Does anyone remember the name of the bookstore on Michigan Avenue in Chicago? It was across the street from Water Tower, south by about 4 blocks. I haven't lived there in a while, and forget the street names. I used to go there all the time, and it was there that I discovered PG Wodehouse about 30 years ago, and he remains a favorite of mine, and I think of that bookstore whenever I read him.
We had a Waldenbooks on Michigan Avenue back in the day.
Gotham Books in the middle of the Diamond district in Manhattan
Wise men shop here
There was a Kroch's and Brentano's there at one time.
Later there was a Waterstone's on Michigan Ave. too.
There was also Rizzoli's, which had a lot of high end books.
And a Crown's
RE THE Chicago bookstore. it wasn't a chain. It was a single location store, on the west side of the street.
The real Rizzoli, across the street on Fifth Ave.
Powell's had a location on Michigan too.
He's thinking of Stuart Brent. I never like them, personally.
The Chicago Powell's on Michigan Avenue was an overstock warehouse down by Columbia College. I used to buy dated-looking Love & Rockets paperbacks there. It's closed down now but I can't hate the art supply store that took its place.
I have fond memories of browsing the Prairie Avenue Bookshop with my dad after Sunday Mass at Old St. Mary's (!) but I'm pretty sure that cheap SOB never actually bought a book there, so try as I might I suppose I also can't hate the corny church that's set up shop in their former storefront.
I hate to mention a Borders in all this (they were part of the problem), but the Borders on State Street in Santa Barbara was a great local hang out that tied the downtown together. Now it's like there's no there there. But Santa Barbara still has a really great indie bookstore called Chaucer's outside town. Whoever is their buyer is doing a wonderful job.
I miss Duttons in LA greatly, but am grateful that Book Soup, Skylight, and Vroman's are still around. Not to mention the new ironically-titled Last Bookstore downtown.