Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Salute to an Outer-Borough Indie

This morning I got this message in my inbox, with the return address Paperbacks Plus:

An Important Letter to our Bookstore Friends:

In 1970, when we first opened our doors on Riverdale Avenue, we lived in a very different world: Nixon was President; Lindsay was the mayor; the buses and subways (and even a slice of pizza!) cost just 30 cents.

You have made the bookstore a wonderful and vibrant place, joining us for chats about your favorite books and special events featuring notables such as Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Caro and Richard Russo. So many great writers both local and worldly like Mary Higgins Clark, S.J. Rozan, Ted Conover, Thomas Cahill, Ann Packer, Pete Hamill, Chang-rae Lee, Frank and Malachy McCourt, Phyllis Chessler and Alan Dershowitz. We’ve hosted special evenings at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, The Riverdale Y, An Beal Bocht and Palombos. New York Yankee greats Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Don Zimmer, Joe Torre, and David Wells, and even the irrepressible Edward I. Koch (four times!).

We have celebrated local authors well known and unheralded. As muggles we embraced Harry Potter and his perilous quest, and banded together defiantly to observe Banned Book Week each year. As children you delighted in our costumed story time characters and over time even brought your own children to marvel and listen. Generations have grown up among our shelves and developed a lifelong habit of reading

Regretfully after 38 years of service to The Bronx, Paperbacks Plus will be closing its doors. We have been honored to serve you as the borough’s only full service general interest (very) independent neighborhood bookstore. As a final farewell, everything (books, cards, games, puzzles, audio books…and even the store) at Paperbacks Plus will be 20% off beginning Wednesday, May 14. NOW is the time to find those Book Club Awards, store credits, and gift certificates that you’ve been using as bookmarks or have squirreled away in sock drawers. Redeem them NOW to take special advantage of our Farewell Sale.

Thanks to you, this little bookstore has thrived in The Bronx, and we have cherished the times we shared over the years. Join us as we close and say goodbye.

Fern, Carroll, Stasia, Ray,
Liam, Brian, and Courtney

I've never been to Paperbacks Plus, because I am a lazy New Yorker and rarely make it up to the Bronx. But I've met Fern, the owner -- she was one of the founders of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, and a very independent person indeed. She gave me a ride home from a NAIBA meeting once and shared stories about running her store -- it's been a long journey.

According to Shelf Awareness this morning, the store is closing primarily because Fern is ready to retire -- she's keeping her accounts open, possibly doing offsite sales, and open to the possibility of selling the store to another. SA also quotes her as saying, ""I have no regrets. I've met so many wonderful people in this business. It's been a passionate part of my life."

If you can, make it up to the Bronx soon to pay your respects. That borough will miss its only indie.