Thursday, August 13, 2009

Strand Book Store

Yesterday evening several of us met at the legendary Strand Book Store for in-depth tour. Understandably librarian associations are drawn to this independent store. It’s an alluring magnet for book lovers.

Our group visited many areas, among them Receiving, Art Books, and Rare Books. We spoke with staff, including Fred Bass, the president and son of the original owner (see photo above). He readily admits the selling of books is hard work. The acquisition of the Espresso Book Machine by a downtown bookstore underscores challenges that consumers, bookstores, libraries, and publishers face today.

Christina Foxley, our cohost, outlined the store’s history and recent changes in its interior and operations. These include the closing of the annex, elimination of a check-in area, and advent of a successful events program. We learned about the Strand’s creation of libraries for movie sets and individuals, once frowned-upon practice of selling review copies, “dollar” bins, and ability to keep prices low. Because of their unusual affordability, photo books from the store are truly coveted items. The store retains staff with specialized knowledge; in Art Books, for instance, salespeople have a background in art.

Many of us were unaware the Strand works extensively with libraries. John Banister, our other cohost, is Libraries Manager, and distributed material on services. The store's review copies are especially popular among librarians. Graduate students enrolled in library and information science programs should note the Strand offers academic internships with stipends.

Since the Strand needs to restrict the size of visiting groups, New York Librarians Meetup Group hopes to schedule another tour to accommodate members’ enthusiastic interest in this iconic, vital institution. We thank everyone there for their generosity in hosting this event.

- LT

Photograph is used with permission of the Strand Book Store.

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