Thursday, February 10, 2011



What seemed inconceivable for this college town just a few years ago is now a fact. There will no longer be an independently owned bookstore for new books in, not only Ithaca, but all of Tompkins County. After many years of hard work and much, much joy, I am sad to announce that I will be closing Buffalo Street Books. This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, one that many of you know I've been forced to contemplate for quite a while. The positives and negatives of owning and operating an independent bricks-and-mortar bookstore are many with the perks far, far outweighing the bumps but for personal reasons and a rapidly diminishing bottom line, I finally have no choice.

This has been, I think, a long time coming--Gary Weissbrot, our friend, and the owner of the store, nearly closed before, and it's an extraordinary achievement to have kept the place going for five years.  He deserves a lot of thanks for providing Ithaca with a wonderful environment for readers and writers, and we will miss the place.

This is the first time in my entire adult life that I will have lived in a town without a viable independent bookstore.  We have a Borders (though not for long, I'm sure) and a B&N, along with the Cornell Store, which has a small, decent trade-book section (about one-third the size of the sweatshirt section).  But really, I think this pretty much ends the period of my life when I go book shopping in bookstores, at least in my home town.  I don't like the chains at all, not because they're chains, but because their aesthetic depresses and repels me.  I'll be ordering from Amazon, either for delivery or download.  And every few months I'll drive downstate and visit the Strand.

End of an era!  Thanks, Gary, for giving it a little more life.


Sung said...

Back when I was at Cornell (early 90s), we had Triangle Books, but I bet that's long gone. Though I bet Rebop Records in Collegetown went out of business even faster than Triangle.

Damn indeed. With Powell's laying people off, it's looking mighty grim for these folks.

- Sung

5 Red Pandas said...

This is sad. I experienced something similar in Albany when I was in school and all the small independent used book stores started to close. Those stores made it possible for me to own so many books and spend money I should have spent on clothes and food! I was so happy to see that one of the still-remaining bookstores near my old apartment was still open a couple years ago, the last time I was in Albany.

When I lived in Washington Heights I used to take the bus to an indie bookstore near Columbia, and then around the time I moved to Brooklyn they closed. Now I'm lucky to live a few subways stops away from some really inviting indie bookstores.

Maybe once in a while, instead of ordering from Amazon, you check out the websites of some of the NYC indies. I know WORD has an online business as well as their store. I know the Amazon discounts are super inviting, though. And as I try to tighten my belt I've gotten most of my reading from the library this year. I still buy more books than will be able to fit in my apartment, but not as many as I did in years past.

D said...

Phoenix Books is still (somehow) in business. You know, the big barn off 13 that says "BOOKS" in white letters on the side.

Z Cole said...

I also order from Amazon, but I hope you still order books from sites like Powell's every now and then.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Z, I should definitely visit the Powell's site more often! They have been very good to me on book tours, too.

Sung, Triangle and Bebop are both long gone. But yes, Phoenix Book is still going, D, and more importantly so is the Book Barn Of The Finger Lakes. And Autumn Leaves, for that matter. And the original Bookery I.

As for New York indies, I went to this place for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it's maybe the best small new-books bookstore I've ever been to: