Personally, I love a good independent bookstore. I have nothing against chain stores, sometimes they are more convenient than indies, but there’s something about independent bookstores that chain stores haven’t been able to replicate. They have a greater sense of personality, community, and history. So you can imagine how incensed people are that the oldest independent bookstore in the United States is in danger of becoming another big-box bookstore.
Moravian Book Shop is a 273-year-old business located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is not just the oldest continuously-operating bookstore in the United States: according to some sources, is also the second-oldest in the world, falling only behind Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal.
Image Via Lehigh Valley Live
Currently, there is a petition on change.org to keep the bookstore as it is. Right now it has close to 19,000 signatures and is striving for 25,000. According to the petition, the bookstore is doing well and had over $2 million in sales last year. The only financial trouble the store has run into is due to bad loans on a second, now-closed location that the store’s board of directors and the Moravian Church’s Provincial Elders’ Conference, or PEC, insisted on opening against the protests of the store’s lower management and employees. Now the PEC is planning to sell the store to the nearby Moravian College, which plans to close its current on-campus bookstore and move operations to Moravian Book Shop.
In an interview with The Morning Call, Michael Corr, a spokesman for Moravian College, said that people are reacting to misconceptions about the new ownership. While it is true that the college is buying Moravian Book Shop and that a national retailer runs the college’s on-campus bookstore, he explained that they want the store’s legacy to continue. The plan is for Moravian Book Shop to remain a community bookstore but add a section for Moravian college students, which will be run by the national chain. “Nothing will change. There will be some changes to the floor plan, but the book selection will remain the same,” he stated.
Image Via Interesting Pennsylvania
Moravian Book Shop is set to transfer ownership in mid-June. Only time will tell what actually becomes of it. If you are interested in signing the petition, you can find it here.
Feature Image Via American Profile