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Allentown, PA is a good sized small city, has a liberal Democratic mayor, a diverse population, and one used book store. Another Story has been in Allentown for nearly 30 years, owned by John Furphy since 1997 and is the only book store of any type inside the city limits.

It is now on the verge of closing for good due to lack of customers... this article is from September...the situation is dire right now...

John is also an all night DJ on a college radio station at Muhlenberg College every weekend for the last several decades. He lives above the store, and may soon loose not only his business and stock of books, but his home.

He has started several fund raisers over the last year, but got only a small fraction of what was needed to continue, and has all but given up hope.

I have been a customer for almost all of the store's existence, and have known John for at least 35 years...Allentown is my home town. This all is very sad, and I HOPE there will be some last minute reprieve...

Originally posted to old mark on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 02:28 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fool that I was, I was happy to buy through Amazon (8+ / 0-)

    … (the "Walmart of the Internet") in the early years.

    It was only until a few years ago I realized, duh! there is a correlation between using Amazon (and making Jeff Bezos so rich that buying the Washington Post was pocket change) and seeing bookstores close.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 02:45:16 AM PST

  •  Analog is dead. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As much as I love books, books themselves are only the physical manifestation of the ideas expressed within them. It is the physical manifestation of the book which limits its own circulation , creating an economically useful scarcity in access to the thoughts that the book contains. This artificial scarcity in circulation is the foundation of the business model of the publishing industry itself.

    I, for one, am happy to see the money business of controlling ideas through scarcity come to an end. I'll find another way to decorate my bookshelves.

    ----- GOP found drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

    When it all goes wrong, hippies and engineers will save us. -- Reggie Watts

    by JimWilson on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 03:45:22 AM PST

    •  the money business of controlling ideas is still (9+ / 0-)

      out there, it's just changing. As an inter-library loan librarian, it is my business to locate what people want that we don't have. Even though we now have a huge program of downloadable library books, I am stating to run into this: a child has read every book we have in a series, everything everyone else will lend, and still wants more- well suddenly they are not making the latest installments in book form anymore. It's only an e-file. And it's "only" $1.99. That's hardly anything at all! $2.00 for 30 pages...sure it's out there, but the parents (who would not have shelled out $25.00 for a whole book) will get nickled and dimed for it instead.

      I respect your position, but as for me, I am collecting multiple copies of the books I think are important, so I can make sure the grandchildren get a chance to read (and touch) real books, no batteries necessary.

      We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

      by nuclear winter solstice on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:06:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unless someone gets paid, most books won't get (5+ / 0-)

      written.  I might kvetch about publishing houses or other industries that take most of the cash and give the author a pittance, but I don't begrudge authors the right to make a living selling their words.  (I do take issue with copyrights that extend decades beyond the death of the author, but that's another matter.)

      I really enjoy Terry Pratchett stories, and I buy them, because I know I only get to read more of them because enough people bought them in past and continue to do so.

      I'm sure there are some people who right just because they enjoy it, but they can only do so because they have the luxury to be able to support themselves in some way other than writing.  And I'd prefer not to limit the potential pool of authors to 'people who are rich enough not to need to be paid for their writing'.

      •  Ideas of the mind are software; not hardware. (0+ / 0-)

        The software industry does make a lot of money and business models are plentiful where people not only can get paid; many become weathly  as well.

        The printed page is not the soul of the book; the author's words and ideas are. The artifice of a printed page and the overhead of publishers  need not be the only business model available to authors.

        ----- GOP found drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

        When it all goes wrong, hippies and engineers will save us. -- Reggie Watts

        by JimWilson on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:56:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The market forces are as cold as you are. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, JimWilson

      Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

      by Floyd Blue on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 05:59:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd rather decorate my mind than my bookshelf. (0+ / 0-)

        But thanks for your kind thoughts.

        I confess that I was very much a part of taking the software industry out of the printing business.  Software publishers published more tonnage of paper than the mainline book publishers ever did.  No one laments the passing of the printed software manual to my knowledge.

        ----- GOP found drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

        When it all goes wrong, hippies and engineers will save us. -- Reggie Watts

        by JimWilson on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 05:01:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hope he is able to (4+ / 0-)

    keep the store.  A good used bookstore is invaluable.  We do not realize that until it is gone. I had to move a few years back and one of things I miss the most is the browsing the book stores that I used to do.  I spent hours doing so, usually bought a few.  

  •  Somewhat O/T is that skydiving weatherman dude (0+ / 0-)

    still driving around town in his 70's Cadillac hearse?

    I met him in the early 80's and spotted him again in the late 90's.

    Also - Allentown's first claim to fame as the destination of the train in James M Cain's Double Indemnity - hope the bookshop has it in stock.

    I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

    by peterfallow on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:19:32 AM PST

  •  It seems he's got at least two solveable problems: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, BachFan, marina

    1) location-- he moved the bookstore away from a high-traffic, but also high-crime area, and now no-one knows where it is and there's little foot traffic.  He needs advertising.
    2) He doesn't have enough money for advertising.
    3) Not enough people know about his fundraiser.

    It seems some of us here could donate to numbers two and three.  I would.

    Does he have a fundraiser link somehwere?

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:27:41 AM PST

  •  Harrisburg's used book store is thriving (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, Rich in PA, Kevskos, BachFan

    so the book store medium isn't dying. Propriators aren't diversifying.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 04:29:06 AM PST

  •  It's partly about the business, but likely more... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...about Allentown.  It's a poor, majority-minority city including a huge population whose first language is Spanish.  A bookstore like what's described in the link is dependent on an outlying population that otherwise has little need to come into the city.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 05:11:51 AM PST

  •  While I agree that all the things mentioned above (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that are contributing to the demise of this particular store are valid, I still think that there is more to the story as a whole.

    Have you been to your local library recently?  Compare it to a few years ago, let alone several.  Have you noticed how much LESS space is devoted to books.

    There is also the fact that Borders closed up shop recently and if I recall correctly, B&N has shown signs of being in trouble too.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:23:01 AM PST

  •  Sad to hear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old mark

    But the bookstore is a dying thing, I think. The chains are petering out, and the independents sinking fast. There's a gigantic used-book store here that I've gone to, when I could, for years to find lost treasures. I don't know how much longer they'll still be going, but I'm betting the bookstore as an entity dies within my lifetime, just like the video store has.
    That's bad, but not entirely so - the reason they're dying is that more people can get more books directly, in digital or paper form. Amazon, after all, is a bookstore, and it's doing fine. By the same token, the same mediums are allowing more people to publish their own works digitally, so the written word in that sense is doing better than it was 20 years ago.
    But, like the video store, I will miss the experience of just browsing, stumbling across things you never heard of, having your mind changed about what you wanted when you walked in.
    Maybe I'll live long enough to see Amazon offer full-immersion virtual bookstores.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by Jaxpagan on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:25:35 AM PST

    •  When I was still working, we had an ebay business (0+ / 0-)

      selling used books. We did it for several years, and were able to make a good business of it. My father was a book scout for decades, and I started going with him to auctions, etc, buying books when I was 10 or so. I had been accumulating books in anticipation of selling them online when I retired, but the demand just DIED  shortly before I did retire. I see many online book sellers -such as ABE Books, where,  the owner of the above store is a seller, selling books for a dollar, making a dollar or so in the shipping is a lot of effort for no return. I have several ROOMS full of books at this time, still read 3 to 5 per week, and have never given a thought to electronics and have no intention of doing so.

      I hate to see this place, which is approaching 30 years as a fixture in that city, go down, but it appears that is the way things are going.

      Bring me the head of Geraldo Rivera.

      by old mark on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 05:41:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can thank the people who buy from Amazon (0+ / 0-)

    for this.

  •  Bookstores still alive and well in Oregon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, marina, bluehammer, IreGyre

    Along with libraries, bowling alleys and gas station attendants.
    One of the nicest things about Oregon is all the used bookstores. Oregonians are behind the times in a lot of ways---and we like it.Eugene has several good ones, like the Smith Family's and of course we have the bet in the world in Powells' in Portland.
    Take note: all the used bookstores I know about here that were open when I moved here are still here---and Border's went out of business.
    Every little town has a library too

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:51:12 AM PST

  •  I don't trust ebooks (0+ / 0-)

    Keeping in mind how things can disappear or become "edited" when in e-form.

    Wouldn't mind taking a lighter-fare ebook to the beach, though.

  •  ADDED: The local paper did a good article on this (0+ / 0-)

    over the weekend...responses indicate that most people did not even know the store was there. It had been in a mid town central location for many years, but the current owner moved to a more distant but still frequented area to try to avoid crime...but it seem she did not advertise much and his following - which was quite good for decades - did not move with him...

    I was not seeking to place blame, on people or technology. I LOVE books. I hate to see a good source of them go away.

    Bring me the head of Geraldo Rivera.

    by old mark on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:21:34 PM PST

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