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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 20, 2006

Customers and competitors hold rent party to save bookstore

Cleveland--A longstanding pillar of liberalism on the west side of Cleveland is struggling to survive, and its friends are organizing to keep it going.

The Bookstore on West 25th, located for a quarter-century at 1921 West 25th Street, was started by Mike O�Brien in 1976. Ever since then it has been a bastion of personal liberties, emerging from his counter-culture beliefs in individual freedom.

�We have prided ourselves on having one of the better women�s studies sections in the city,� he said humbly, noting that the store has also long had a gay literature section.

However, the expansion of chains and the rise of the internet have made it difficult for O�Brien�s store, which is struggling to meet its rent payments.

Luckily for O�Brien, whose store was one of the first advertisers in the Gay People�s Chronicle 21 years ago, the used book business is as cooperative as it is competitive. His customers and the owners of other used book stores around the Cleveland area are working together to help him raise the money he needs.

There will be a rent party at the store on January 21, followed by a book auction featuring signed books and antiquarian tomes.

Among those coming to O�Brien�s aid are John T. Zubal Books, the Old Erie Street Bookstore, Mac�s Backs and Loganberry Books.

�There�s only three independent used book stores in the city that are open to the public, which is not a lot of a city this size,� said Harriet Logan, the owner of Loganberry, which made its name peddling children�s classics. �Every independent book store fulfills a different need, and the book business breeds more book business, so the Bookstore on West 25th is good for me.�

She described the store as an �institution,� and lamented the drop over the last decade in independent bookstores.

�Ten years ago when Loganberry opened, there were 30 bookstores listed in the phone book,� she noted. �Ten years later, there is half of that, and only half are open to the public.�

Many booksellers have restricted their business to online selling, opening their doors only by appointment.

However, walking through a good used book store can open new worlds to a customer, with thousands of volumes of knowledge available. That knowledge, according to O�Brien, comprise �essential element of any liberation.�

The rent party will be from 3 pm to 8 pm on Saturday, January 21 at 1921 West 25th Street, and will be followed by the book auction at Inside Outside Gallery at 2688 West 14th Street. For more information, call 216-5668897.


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