|Headquarters||New York City, United States|
Number of locations
|1 store, 1 kiosk|
|New York metropolitan area|
|Products||New, used and rare books|
|Owner||Nancy Bass Wyden|
Number of employees
The Strand Bookstore is an independent bookstore located at 828 Broadway, at the corner of East 12th Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, two blocks south of Union Square. In addition to the main location, the store's Central Park kiosk is open on fair weather days at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 60th Street. The company's slogan is "18 Miles Of Books", as featured on its stickers, T-shirts, and other merchandise. In 2016, The New York Times called The Strand "the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores."
History and description
Benjamin Bass's first bookstore was the Pelican Book Shop on Eighth Street near Greene Street. The store was not a success, and Bass, who was an immigrant from Lithuania, next opened the Strand – named after the street in London – in 1927 with $300 in his own savings and $300 he borrowed; early on, he slept on a cot in the store. The new store was located on Fourth Avenue, which had at the time 48 bookstores, in what was known as "Book Row", which was established as early as 1890, and which started to disappear around the 1930s due to the Great Depression and again in the 1950s, due to rent increases.
Bass's son Fred – who started working in the store when he was 13 years old – took over the business in 1956 and the next year moved the store to the present location at the corner of East 12th Street and Broadway. The store expanded to the entire first floor of the building, and then first three floors in the 1970s. The store now occupies three and a half floors, with another half floor for offices and one additional floor for warehouse space.
Bass's daughter Nancy Bass Wyden – who is married to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon – has been the co-owner of the store and ran it since her father's retirement in November 2017, and is now the sole owner, with her father's death in January 2018.
Besides the main store and the Central Park and Grand Army Plaza kiosks, an additional location, the "Strand Book Annex", opened in the 1980s and was originally located on Front Street in the South Street Seaport complex. It moved in 1996 to Fulton and Gold Streets in the Financial District, but finally closed on September 22, 2008 due to rent increases. A branch in the Flatiron District opened in 2013, and a summer kiosk in Times Square opened in 2016.
In 2005, the main store underwent a major renovation and expansion, with the addition of an elevator, air conditioning, and a re-organization of the floors to make browsing easier for shoppers. It also begin to sell discounted new books and non-book merchandise.
The Strand is a family-owned business with more than 200 employees. Many Lower East Side artists have worked at the store, including two rock musicians of the 1970s: Patti Smith – who claimed not to have liked the experience because it "wasn't very friendly" – and Tom Verlaine, who was fond of the discount book carts sitting outside the store.
The bookstore had 70,000 books in its early years, which increased by the mid-1960s to 500,000. By the 1990s it had 2.5 million books, which necessitated the purchase of a warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In 1997 Bass bought the building at East 12th Street and Broadway for $8.2 million, by which time the Strand was the largest used bookstore in the world. As of June 2017, the store had around 2.5 million books. At that time, the oldest book for sale in the Strand is an edition of Magna Moralia, which is priced at $4,500. The most expensive book is a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses at $38,000.
In popular culture
- The Strand has been featured in films such as Six Degrees of Separation, Julie & Julia and Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson, who played a Strand employee.
- The Strand can be seen from the room of Professor Wutheridge in The Bishop's Wife (1948).
- The Strand is featured in the third episode of the miniseries Flesh and Bone.
- The band Steely Dan "name-checks" the Strand in their song "What A Shame About Me" from the album Two Against Nature.
- Joyce Carol Oates' short story, "Three Girls", takes place at the Strand.
- The Strand was referenced on Gilmore Girls in the season four episode "Ballrooms and Biscotti", when Rory and Lorelai discuss a daytrip to New York City, before Rory starts college.
- The Strand was a backdrop for part of the novel Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
- The Strand was featured on the BBC television series Absolutely Fabulous in the 2002 Christmas Special "Gay".
- "Strand History" on the Strand Bookstore website
- Leopold, Todd. "The death and life of a great American bookstore", CNN, (September 12, 2011)
- "Store House and Directions" Archived 2013-07-03 at the Wayback Machine. on the Strand Bookstore website
- Annie Correal, (July 15, 2016) "Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz" The New York Times
- Grimes, William (January 3, 2018) "Fred Bass, Who Made the Strand Bookstore a Mecca, Dies at 89" The New York Times
- Wolfe, Jonathan (June 27, 2017) "New York Today: Celebrating the Strand" The New York Times
- Woodman, James S. (June 27, 2008)"Stranded by construction, book store will close its doors" Downtown Express
- Milzoff, Rebecca (November 27, 2005) "Patti Smith Discusses Her Influences" New York
- Mengaziol, Peter (November 1981) "Tom Verlaine Plays with the Focus", Guitar World
- Kim, Jane (ndg) Television on Print: "A literary conversation with Tom Verlaine", Dusted
- Staff (March 16, 2012) "At the Strand Bookstore, a Retail Labor Struggle in the Age of Amazon and Occupy" Metrofocus (WNET)
- Samuelson, Tracey (April 5, 2012) "Strand Bookstore Workers Reject Contract" Archived 2013-04-24 at the Wayback Machine. WNYC blog
- Krauthamer, Diane (July 18, 2012) "In New York Bookstore Contract Fight, Occupy Helped Workers Draw Energy, Media Spotlight " Truthout
- Viernere, James. "Robert Pattinson’s romantic tale an affair to 'Remember'" Boston Herald (March 12, 2010)
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