The Strand will open on the Upper West Side this month

July 7, 2020

Photo of the Strand’s new UWS storefront, taken by 6sqft on July 7, 2020 

After a long and dramatic saga, the Upper West Side’s Book Culture closed for good in February, but a new beloved book store is opening up in the storefront. The Strand announced earlier this year that third-generation owner Nancy Bass Wyden signed a lease for the space, which will be renamed The Strand at Columbus Avenue. And Gothamist received confirmation from the owner that it’ll be opening this month.

Book Culture on Columbus on Thursday 1/9/20 during a rally to save the store, taken by 6sqft

Book Culture’s journey to closure began this past June when owner Chris Doeblin issued an open letter to the city asking for $500,000 in assistance to keep the store afloat after falling behind due to unpaid vendor debts and loans. When the city didn’t come through, Doeblin initiated a community lending program to raise an increased amount of $750,000. Though many devoted customers did come forward with financial support, it wasn’t enough to pay back rent to his landlord. To complicate matters, Doeblin’s business partner, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine Rick MacArthur, sued Doeblin, claiming that his lending program was misleading customers. The store was ultimately served an eviction notice in early January and finally closed for good at the end of the month. Doeblin has said he’ll continue to raise money to open in another location, but Book Culture also has stores on West 112th Street, on Broadway at 114th Street, and in Long Island City.

After the closure, Shakespeare & Co., another independently owned bookstore with a nearby location at 69th and Broadway, was looking at the space. But it was the 93-year-old Strand that inked the deal. The Strand was opened in 1927 by Benjamin Bass on Broadway and 12th Street in an area that was then considered “Book Row,” a stretch that was at one time home to 48 book stores. Today, the Strand is the last survivor and is still owned by the third generation of the Bass family. It’s become famous for its “18 miles of books” that consists of 2.5 million used, new, and rare books; $1 book carts lining the sidewalks; and its rare book room that even plays host to engagements and weddings.

Photo looking inside the Strand’s new UWS store, taken by 6sqft on July 7, 2020 

At their new second location uptown, the Strand will stock the shelves with the same “vast selection of used, new, and rare books, as well as other bookish items.” They’ll also expand their event series, which currently puts on 400 programs each year, including author talks and children’s storytime on weekends. The Strand at Columbus Avenue originally aimed for a tentative opening in March but was postponed due to the COVID crisis.

When the Strand was forced to close its Union Square store in March, they temporarily laid off 188 employees. They were able to reopen for Curbside pickup in early June and for limited in-store shopping on June 22. Also in June, The Strand opened an outpost at LaGuardia Airport’s newly revamped Terminal B. According to Gothamist, they have since rehired 33 of their employees.

“We’re so excited to finally open the doors to The Strand at Columbus Ave. this month,” Strand owner Nancy Bass Wyden told Gothamist. “Thinking about opening those doors feels like the light at the end of a long tunnel. This isn’t quite the grand opening we had imagined, but we’re looking forward to bringing some joy (and some great books) to the Upper West Side.”

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on February 6, 2020, and has been updated with new information.

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