From 10 July to 10 September, 2020, I posted pictures of bookmarks that I either keep at the ready in an envelope on a shelf or which live in various books around the house. They are from 43 different bookstores; sixteen of them are closed and twenty-seven are still around. A better ratio than I was expecting.
But too many are gone without having been replaced, and we are poorer and more vulnerable for it.
Two bookmarks that resurfaced in old books around the house. The Odegard’s at Victoria Crossing closed in January 1996. (The C∗lhoun Square store stayed open a few more years, if memory serves.)
St Mark’s was small but mighty. A regular stop when I lived in the gravity well of NYC. But I’m 0 for 2 in the category of “Bookstores that still exist.” I’ll try to find a non-moribund bookmark for tomorrow so that it doesn’t seem like I’m taking pictures of headstones…
City Lights is a great bookstore, of course, and I try to go every time I’m in the City. But if you told me I could go to only one San Francisco bookstore, I think I would choose Green Apple.
(And I checked their website. They’re still alive!)
I think I must have found this tucked in a book I bought somewhere else, since I have no memory of ever visiting this bookstore.
(Also: apparently not dead!)
Great little shop. Perfect name for a used book store. It was in Linden Hills, next door to the Dunn Brothers.
Lovely shop. I’ve seen it turn up as a location in TV shows when they want the characters to seem refined and sophisticated.
The bookmark is a heavy cardstock, so it’s ideal for thicker books and especially anything with deckled edges.
Ah, the Hungry Mind. I started going here when I was nine to collect Tintin books. This was my book store. We were the same age and I thought we would grow old together.
(It’s hard to tell, but this is an absurdly small bookmark, about half the width of a business card.)
For about five years, I lived an easy walk or a short Streetcar ride away from the Burnside store. I arrived in PDX with 74 boxes of books. When I moved away, I had only 38. Maybe you’ve bought one of my cast-offs.
I think this was the color during the late aughts.
Housing Works is such a cool place. And possibly my favorite bookmark: good cardstock, great reminder.
Sorry, everyone: yet another dead book store. I found this inside an older book I received from a friend.
Maybe it was in its decrepit twilight, but I found Gotham forbiddingly hostile and risibly pompous. Despite a rich inventory, I spent as little money as possible on my sole visit and vowed never to return. I shed no tear on learning of its humiliating and predictable demise.
Now this is how you do a used book store. (I thought I also had a bookmark from when it was Gryphon, but it hasn’t turned up.)
Rounding out this NYC week is the Strand. I wish I could say why, but I’ve always merely liked rather than loved the Strand, despite it seeming, on paper, to be my ideal book store.
(I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but they removed the bag check after this cell phone symphony.)
It’s Saturday, which means it’s time once again for a Hungry Mind bookmark. Another tiny one from the late 90s.
Powells again. This is from around 2010 or so.
Almost perfect book store. Large enough to feel like you probably missed something, small enough not to be overwhelming. (I haven’t been to its successor, Next Chapter, but I’ve ordered from them online a few times this spring.)
No bookmark, just a business card from Biography. It was driven out by the Marc Jacobs infestation of the Village. I remember seeing this sign in many windows: Less Marc Jacobs, more Jane Jacobs.
Biography would rise again under a new name and with a very kick-ass bookmark.
The erstwhile Biography, now known as Bookbook. Not sure whether I love or hate the new name. Either way, bold look.
Odegards at Victoria Crossing closed in ’96. (And was replaced by I wanna say an Aveda?) A few years later, an inoffensive book store going after the Borders/B&N crowd opened up kitty corner. Looking at the locations, the owners clearly had the snowbird thing down.
Another Sunday, another Powells. From around 2011 or ’12, I think. The period has vanished from the end of sell us your books, presumably to strengthen the symmetry between the two sides.
This will always be the real Amazon Bookstore. Imagine the alternate universe where the venerable feminist cooperative prevails and the shabby little internet start-up has to change its name.
Fantastic shop in the heart of Uptown. Everything The Strand wishes it were.
This Borders replaced Odegards, which had held on a little longer than the St Paul store. It’s Kitchen Window now.
I remember really liking Prairie Lights, but I’ve only been there once, passing through on a roadtrip — twenty years ago today, in fact.
Love this place. A little house, with nooks and rooms devoted to different genres. In the SFF room, some authors are collected in milkcrates. Heinlein’s crate. McCaffrey’s. The fiction is alphabetical, but only by first letter. Perfect for endless browsing and serendipity.
Okay, Green Apple, Black Oak, then City Lights. (I was sorry, therefore, to discover that Black Oak has closed…)
From the mid-teens.
The great Labyrinth. My favorite shop in NYC. Possibly the closest in feel to the Hungry Mind in its prime of any place I think I’ve ever been.
I preferred the Labyrinth name, but after they renamed it Book Culture its character didn’t change, so I can live with it.
I found Edmond Jabès’ Book of Questions here. Yes, in a Borders. In Richfield. Right there on the shelf. Remember when there were national chain bookstores? And even they actually carried books? Now it’s just the Amazon deforesting itself. And there isn’t even a tree museum.
The Blackwell’s by the university was my bookstore during my semester in Aberdeen, but I haunted the Waterstones on Union street whenever I could.
From sometime in the early or mid ’00s.
I love places like Wallace and Mercer Street to the extent they remind me of the Book House. A magnificent clutter. (The St Paul branch, which I think I loved even more, was right across the street from the Hungry Mind.)
Pitch-perfect bookstore. I salute their buyers. For example, I can take in its poetry section almost without moving my head but I’d put it up against any of the best bookstores anywhere else, even those ten times larger.
Exquisite used shop. An astonishingly broad selection for a place the size of my living room, ranging from the scholarly to the pulp. Great name, too. And so we beat on…
In the strip mall across the street from the original Cheapo. I assume it must have been connected to the BookSmart in Uptown, but I don’t remember for sure. Was this its original location?
(And this bookmark is so old, an area code was unnecessary.)
From sometime in the mid ’00s.
I love this place.
(I did a doubletake when I saw the cover of Franzen’s How to Be Alone, not only because it’s a shot of Three Lives as Archetypal Indie Bookstore, but also because — who the hell bends back the front cover of a book like that before they’ve even bought it?)
A bookmark labelled bookmark from a bookstore called The Book Store. Reminds me of the yellow and black generic brands from the early 80s.
Based on its address and the bookmarks’ colors, this was possibly an earlier incarnation of SJSU’s campus bookstore.
I wandered in during their first anniversary in May of ’96 and was instantly ensorcelled. I appeared in their short-lived lit mag, read at their open mics, and bought and sold tons of books.
Any closed bookstore is sad, but this one was especially hard.
This turned up in a used book I bought in Salt Lake City, or possibly Santa Fe.
From the last days of the Hungry Mind. After selling their name to a short-lived online school, they rebranded, expanded into Open Book, then closed a few years later.
This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end, but this is apparently how the story usually ends.
The villain sweeps on stage and strikes a pose. We boo uproariously.
He basks in it, studying his fingernails, with the occasional imperious side-eye to the audience.
We love to hate him, and hate to love him. He’s the reason why the show is sold out for the whole run.
The most recent version I have, and the last for this series. Some friends sent me an envelope full of these in 2018, a few years after I had moved away.
I picked up armloads of science fiction and fantasy here in the early 80s. Better selection that B. Dalton’s. And with a branch in the local strip mall, it was easier for middle-school me to get to than faraway Shinders or Uncle Hugo’s, both of which were rare, special visits.
An excellent bookstore so richly and lovingly stocked, it seems much larger than it is.
This version surfaced a few weeks ago, too late to be included in the original post.
And this brings us to the end of the run.
I will continue occasionally posting other bookmarks — and things that serve as bookmarks — as they turn up in my books. Find them using this tag.