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 New York Today: Celebrating the Strand

 New York Today: Celebrating the Strand

My alma mater:
Before ‘I got into the record’ business way back in the early 1970s I worked for the legendary Strand Bookstore.
The krew when I was there was quite amazing:

Writers, actors, authors, musicians, bibliomaniacs….

Craig Anderson the son of Maxwell Anderson, Dick Komar Jr the son of Dorthory Killgallen and the actor Richard Komar, Tommy Miller aka Tommy Verlaine who founded the band Television lots of as writers like Tony Scherman who penned Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story to name a few.
Patty Smith was there too, just as I was departing.  Her sister worked there also and married the Strand shipping clerk

One of my Strand jobs was to go around to all the critics and magazines and pick up review books and galley's (btw- the Strand had contracts with most if not all the magazines and many writers to purchase all their review copies. They pretty much had a lock on that market).  Life magazine was one of my stops.  I’d hit maybe 10 or more different departments from their Sixth Ave headquarters.  My last stop was Loudon S. Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright III's father.   He was the editor for the popular ‘Miscellanyfeature that always closed every issue of Life Magazine.  His office walls were covered with the original photographs they used.  He always gave me a ‘tip’ of free records and books.

I also picked up from Nat Hentoff.

I’d go to his West 12th St apartment through the service entrance. I could hear him banging away on his manual typewriter.
He had books and records piled up outside his service entry door…tons of stuff.

After I announced myself he told me to take everything on the left and help myself to whatever records I wanted on the right as a tip.
He’s me performing an important Strand Bookstore task:


New York Today: Celebrating the Strand




A book among millions. George Etheredge for The New York Times 

Updated 10:46 a.m.

Good morning on this drizzly Tuesday.

Another New York institution is turning 90 this month: the Strand Book Store. (Coney Island’s Cyclone hit the milestone yesterday.)

The shop was founded by Benjamin Bass in 1927, as part of a cluster of booksellers on Fourth Avenue.

And while it’s not our city’s oldest bookstore still in operation (that distinction is claimed by Argosy Books in Midtown, founded in 1925), it may be one of the more fortunate.

History was not kind to the 30 or so purveyors of pamphlets, old maps and dog-eared books that lined Fourth Avenue, mostly between Astor Place and 13th Street, a stretch that was then known as Book Row. Rent increases in the 1930s scattered many of them.

The Strand remained even as rents doubled for neighboring bookstores. The landlord who controlled the area had developed a close relationship with Mr. Bass.

Rents continued to rise in the 1950s, and the old bookstores that had survived on Fourth Avenue again faced eviction. When an agent from the Department of Commerce and Public Events visited in 1956, “the antiquarians wept, dustily, on his neck,” The New York Times reported. They begged the city to find a new row for them. (It never did.)

A year later, Mr. Bass’s son, Fred Bass, moved the Strand to Broadway and 12th Street, where it has remained and expanded.

Today, the bookstore, named after a street in London, offers around 2.5 million new, used and rare volumes, and it is run by Nancy Bass Wyden, a granddaughter of Benjamin Bass, and by her father, Fred Bass.

The most expensive item on hand? A $38,000 copy of “Ulysses” by James Joyce, signed by the author and illustrated by Matisse. The oldest is an edition of “Magna Moralia” published in 1496 ($4,500).

In the age of Amazon, Ms. Wyden said shops like hers offer New Yorkers something different.

They’re places for discovery, conversation, to meet someone new or to pop the question (which, she said, she sees quite a bit).

“When customers come in, time slows down for them,” she said, “and in our chaotic city, New Yorkers need that.”

What are your favorite bookstores in the city? And what are your most treasured moments there? Tell us about them in the comments.

Here’s what else is happening:



Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com



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