Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Lightly on the Death Toll for Boston Bookstores

I live in a darn educated city, and bookstores are plentiful. Seems like the recession’s been bad for them, however: I just learned that the New England Mobile Bookfair, a behemoth of a bookstore that’s been around for 50 years, is up for sale. Rodney’s Bookstore has been in an indefinite store closing mode for several months; plans to close the Central Square institution at the end of the year may be on hold.

As a former bookseller myself and a frequent supporter, I worry about the disappearance of these institutions. Not only do bookstores–and used bookstores in particular–provide a purchase point for us consumers, but bookstores are community spaces, solitude- and sanity-keepers, a refuge for those of us readers with short attention spans who leap-frog from one book to the next.

Counter to the trend of receding bookstore business is the hopeful story of The Strand. Whenever I’m in New York, I drop by this literary landmark and their 18 miles of books. Founded as a book stall more than 80 years ago, The Strand is still owned by the Bass family and owns its building.

Makes you wonder: Do booksellers make good businessmen? Why are we always lamenting the death of the indie bookstore?

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BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
May 2019
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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