Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Help Back Pages Books

I’m lucky enough to live walking distance from a bookstore – Back Pages Books.

I was saddened when I heard that it’s having financial difficulties. Back Pages is an independently owned bookstore. The owner, Alex Green, always strikes me as very smart and well read. He also seems like a nice guy, whose always up for a chat with customers.

According to its Web site, Back Pages is facing possible closure.


On April 18, Back Pages Books will celebrate its third anniversary. It has been truly extraordinary to see the bookstore become a vibrant meeting place for readers and authors from around the world. However, three years is also a point of difficult reflection for us. We must face the reality that without significant increased financial support, we will have to close the store in the immediate future.


Back Pages Books is starting a membership program that ranges from entry ($20) to platinum ($2,500). Benefits, which are based on membership level, include discounts, invitations to members only events, signed first editions and more.

The store will use the money to pay for outstanding accounts with publishers, sustained accounting and bookkeeping, a new inventory system and tax relief.

While most people in this area think of Moody Street in terms of restaurants, there’s also a gift store and unfinished furniture store. However, a number of factors make it tough for retailers there including a lack of day time shoppers and limited parking on the weekend. I think the high number of dollar stores/ used/ thrift stores makes it difficult for non-discount stores to compete.

Update: I did not realize that the Construction Site - a toy store on Moody Street had closed. According to the Boston Globe, four stores on Moody Street have closed in the last year.

Whatever the challenges, I would hate to see Waltham lose a wonderful asset like Back Pages Books. Studies have proven that local independent stores give back more to the community. According to Big Box Swindle, when Austin, Texas studied two local bookstores versus a proposed Borders, they found that for every $100 spent at the local stores, the stores spent $30 in Austin resulting in a $45 local economic impact. For that same $100, a typical Borders spent $9 in the local community, resulting in a local economic impact of $13.

I recently read about Edwards Books' - a Springfield bookstore- closure. The owner said that 50 percent of all independent book stores have closed in the last decade.

Hopefully, Back Pages Books will get enough support that they can buck that sad trend.

Additional Resources/ Reading:

Edwards Books to close,

Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore, Suzanne Strempek Shea (Chronicles Shea’s experiences working at Edwards Books).

Independent America,

American Booksellers Association,

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