Inside Westsider Books, via Google Street View
The age of Amazon is now more in-your-face than ever for local bookstores. And though the Lower East Side’s McNally Jackson and Midtown’s Drama Book Shop were recently saved, it looks like the Upper West Side’s beloved Westsider Books will not be so lucky. West Side Rag reports that the shop, which opened on Broadway between 80th and 81st Streets 35 years ago, will close next month amid decreasing sales.
Via Google Street View
When the shop first opened, it was known as Gryphon Books and was merely a wheelbarrow of used books for sale. It moved to its current location in 1984, and owners Dorian Thornley and Bryan Gonzalez took over in 2002.
In addition to the regular internet-age perils, Westsider faced competition from the Barnes & Noble just a block away on 82nd and Broadway, the super-charming Book Culture on 82nd and Columbus, as well as the newly opened (and millennial-friendly) Shakespeare & Co. down on 70th and Broadway. However, Westsider was the only used bookstore standing in the neighborhood. “You could get a lot of things here you couldn’t get elsewhere, and at a lower price,” said 80-year-old employee David Ray to Gothamist. This includes stacks of perfectly musty books, DVDs, CDs, and records, and as Gothamist puts it, “lots of curios.”
Thornley said he believes the closing will be at the end of February. For now, Westsider posted on its Facebook page, that everything in the store is 30 percent off. Comments on the post take the general tone of, “NOOOOO,” with patrons calling the store a “landmark” and lamenting that it’s “the end of an era.”
One bit of a silver lining? Westsider will forever be memorialized in Woody Allen’s “Fading Gigolo,” Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck,” and the current Melissa McCarthy comedy “Can you Ever Forgive Me.”
Somewhat ironically, owner Dorian Thornley told the Post that they’ll try to liquidate some of their stock by selling on Amazon. He and Gonzalez also own Westsider Records on 72nd between Broadway and West End Avenue, which they are not planning to close.
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Neighborhoods : Upper West Side