Bookstores in Claremont

My statement in Feb. 15’s column that the loss of Second Story Books “will leave Claremont without a bookstore — other than the one at the Claremont Colleges — for the first time in decades” drew comment from two other stores that sell books: the Thoreau Bookshop in the Packing House and the Friends of the Library store in the Claremont Library.

For various reasons, I can’t exactly qualify them as bookstores, since both are nonprofits that rely on donated material and hence have very small collections. I give them a shout-out in Sunday’s column anyway. And I’d like to quote the e-mails I got. The one concerning the Thoreau store was, as one would hope from bookish people, particularly well-composed.

First, here’s what Rachel McDonnell, office manager of the Claremont Forum, had to say about the Thoreau:

“In response to your February 15th article ‘Loss of Claremont bookstore speaks volumes,’ your article fails to mention a popular and beloved bookstore in the Claremont West Village — the Claremont Forum’s Thoreau Bookshop. This used bookstore, which supports the Prison Library Project, offers many recent titles and the proceeds support a prison literacy project that serves inmates nationwide.

“As an independent bookseller, we were saddened to learn that Second Story Books was leaving Claremont. But there is another bookstore in the village and we are proud of the quality books we provide the community — and we are passionate about our Prison Library Project, which our bookstore supports.

“The lesson of Second Story Books illustrates the changing and challenging environment independent booksellers face today. We are fortunate to be within a vibrant non-profit organization, The Claremont Forum, and our local community supports us by generously purchasing books, making donations, and volunteering their time and talents.

“Bookselling is indeed live and well in Claremont. We have a beautiful bookstore that embraces the old traditions of classic bookshops. We invite you to visit our bookstore and hope that you remind your readers that bookselling is, indeed, alive and well in Claremont. The era of independent used bookstores is not over in Claremont — please don’t draw the curtains before the show is over. The Thoreau Bookshop plans to be on the stage for a long, long time.”

The Claremont Forum is in the Packing House, 586 W. First St. The Thoreau Bookshop’s hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone (909) 626-3066.

I also heard from Barbara Musselman about the library bookshop:

“The Friends of the Claremont Library continue to operate their successful bookstore, raising funds for the library.

“Books are on sale during library hours and the Friends conduct two sales yearly: one in conjunction with Village Venture [in October] and the Spring Sale, May 1 and 2 this year.

“Most hardcover books are on sale for $2 to $3, trade paperbacks are $1, small paperbacks are 50 cents each. There is also a selection of children’s books for purchase.

“Additional items include: videos, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, LPs, notable books and classics. At the library checkout, there are well-read books available at greatly discounted prices.”

On a related note, there was a long, detailed comment left at the end of that Feb. 15 column by reader Christiane Lozano who is angry about Second Story’s demise. I’m not sure all her points are fair — if the new owners wanted to strip the walls of the previous owner’s ephemera, paint them and put up ephemera reflecting their own personality, that’s only natural — but she does make some good observations.

Always nice to see people passionate about books and bookstores — especially since the Village will soon be without a full-service one.

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