Brattle Book Shop brochure


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A four-page, bi-fold brochure I wrote and designed for the Brattle Book Shop in downtown Boston.

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Brattle Book Shop brochure

  1. 1. Come inside. Get to know the BRATTLE BOOK SHOP 9 Wes t S tr eet • Bosto n, MA • 02111 Tel : (617) 542-0210 • Fa x: (617) 338-1467 w w attleb ook s ho The Brattle Book Shop is one of the oldest antiquarian book shops in the Treasures Around Every Corner United States. BY STEVE HOLT Tucked away down a relatively calm side street between the Boston Common and Downtown Crossing, the Brattle Book Shop certainly isn’t flashy. The interior of the store hasn’t been updated in years. Proprietor Ken Gloss rarely advertises and refuses to fight for your attention. He doesn’t have to. The Brattle Book Shop isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. That’s because it just … is. Is the best-known book shop in Boston. Is a gathering place for all kinds of people. Is really, really old. Walk through the door of the Clockwise, from left: Ken Gloss, holding a 1958 photo of him and his father, George Gloss, at Brattle, and you’ll notice that familiar the shop’s Scollay Square location; the iconic Brattle sign from the sidewalk on West St., the bouquet of ink and paper, some of it shop’s location since 1969; books piled high in the basement, waiting to be priced and shelved. quite old, bound with leather and cloth. Next you’ll probably marvel at the sheer size of the place: bookshelves And that includes the adjacent lot into which Gloss’s workers lining the walls, packed tightly from the wheel dozens of $1, $3, and $5 book carts six days a week, floor to the 10-foot ceilings, and four year-round, except in cases of rain or snow. Hunting for aisles to explore on each of the shop’s literary treasure out here could take you an afternoon by three floors. If you’re wondering, there itself, so pace yourself. are roughly 250,000 books – all good, Gloss asserts – crammed into the On the ground floor you’ll find fiction, art, children’s, Brattle’s 5,500 square feet of real estate. and war, among other subjects. Climb the marble staircase to The Brattle Book Shop, 9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111 | (617) 542-0210 |
  2. 2. THE BRATTLE BOOK SHOP! PAGE 2 “So, how does the shop work?” Buy Sort & Stack Shelving Sold or Sent Someone calls the shop Boxes from the buy are Finding the right place for a book is Outside with books to sell. A stacked in the basement at a time-tested art. Staff members put buyer visits the home or the shop. Ken sorts through sorted books in the section where Many of the Brattle’s books sell office personally and and prices them according to most people would look for that quickly. The ones that don’t are often marked down to be sold loads any purchased their resale value. Paperbacks title. Rare and valuable books go to for $3 or $5 in our outside lot. books into the truck to are also separated to be the third floor. bring back to the shop. shelved or sold outside. the second floor and you’ll find another near- macabre artist and writer Edward Gorey, priced at dizzying collection of primarily non-fiction books, $6,500. from religion to music to classics to U.S. and world The Brattle name and Gloss’ expertise are history. In “specializing in not specializing,” well-known all over the country, and Ken usually inventory can vary wildly from one visit to the has at least one house call every day. Every day is next. If a collection of chess books comes in, for different, however, just one of the reasons Gloss instance, the baseball section may be slashed to loves his job. make room, the “weeded” books sent outside to be “One day we’re buying a general estate of used sold on the sale carts. The Brattle’s constant books,” says Gloss, who took over the business rotation of its stock makes walking out with from his father, George. “The next day I’m looking something a near guarantee every time you visit. at a rare letter from Lincoln or Washington, or a Ever wanted to thumb through a first edition first edition of Twain.” of The Cat in the Hat? Perhaps hold a brochure for As a trusted appraiser, Gloss has been called to booking passage on the ill-fated Titanic voyage? value an original Massachusetts state charter from Pore over mid-19th century maps from the New 1620, a signed copy of the Declaration of England town where you grew up? Climb another Independence, and Paul Revere’s two-page, set of stairs to the third floor, where the most handwritten account of his ride. He and wife Joyce valuable stock – the antiquarian books, first Kosofsky identify people’s treasures — and duds editions, and old sets — are shelved. This is where — as regular appraisers on PBS’s The Antiques you may see any number of interesting items. Roadshow. Recent examples include a signed photo of Searching through the book titles and piles of Abraham Lincoln, priced at $75,000; the 1860 ephemera at the Brattle, a visitor can easily lose Baseball Players’ Pocket Companion, priced at track of time. The scene amounts to a veritable $12,500; an inscribed biography of George paradise for bibliophiles and a business model that Gershwin with four bars of music, priced at has flourished for the Gloss family for more than a $20,000; and an original, signed drawing of half-century. The Brattle Book Shop, 9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111 | (617) 542-0210 |
  3. 3. THE BRATTLE BOOK SHOP! PAGE 3 From Cornhill to West St.: A Brief History The Brattle’s story has not been without its The Brattle Book Shop is much older than challenges, however. In 1980, a fire claimed the either the elder or younger Gloss — and nearly shop’s five-story wooden building on West Street. every other shop in America. The shop’s origins “We lost everything; every single old print, date back to 1825 when it was built in the Cornhill magazine, and book,” Ken remembers. section of Boston, later called Scollay Square. In Determined to rebuild, father and son, now 1949, newlyweds George and Dorrit Gloss, Ken’s co-proprietors, found a location a few doors parents, purchased the struggling shop. down, put the books they could find out on tables, “My parents were about to be married, and and started from scratch. Hearing about the my mother had five hundred dollars. They used Brattle’s troubles, many Bostonians lugged books her savings to buy the store, which, at the time, down to West Street to donate to the shop. Even was on the brink of going out of business,” Gloss Mayor Kevin White came by with a carload of recalls. “My father built up the business with hard books. work, his great love and knowledge of “The support was amazing,” Gloss books, and a fair amount of says. “And we survived.” ingenuity.” Yet another lucky break emerged It was George’s fearless ingenuity from the smoldering rubble. The that not only saved the shop in 1949, burnt-out building was razed, leaving but built it up to become a leader in its an empty lot. Now next door in their industry. A master at publicizing the current location at 9 West Street, the shop, George became widely known lot became a location for shoppers to in the city for the stunts he’d pull browse thousands of sale books on before the shop moved locations – carts and shelves. Today, “outside which was seven times during the book” sales constitute a major portion family’s ownership. His moving sales of the Brattle’s business, and the lot were legendary – book prices were has become one of the iconic symbols slashed in the weeks leading up to a of the shop in the modern era. move, climaxing in a literal free-for-all This Abraham Lincoln autographed George’s death in 1985 would present photo sold for $75,000. that drew enormous crowds. the next potential challenge for the Forced from its Brattle Street Brattle. After growing up in the shop, location by City Hall development in 1969, however, Ken was well-equipped to carry his George drove a covered wagon to the shop’s new father’s torch. Ken’s style is quite different from his location on West Street, tossing books to father’s. George liked the limelight, while Ken is pedestrians, tying up traffic, and shouting, “Go more private. George ran a tight ship and could be West, book-lovers! Go West Street!” His fiery strict at times, while Ken rarely gets worked up. political speeches on Boston Common and selfless Make no mistake, though – the Brattle is every philanthropy also anchored Gloss and Brattle as bit as efficient and forward-thinking under Ken’s household names around the Hub. leadership as it was under George’s. One might, in part, attribute both men’s success to the support of The Brattle Book Shop, 9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111 | (617) 542-0210 |
  4. 4. THE BRATTLE BOOK SHOP! PAGE 4 wives who doubled as business title they can’t seem to find water cooler and pub rolled into partners. Dorrit worked in the anywhere else (or didn’t know one. shop until her retirement in they wanted until they found it). This book shop, this slice of 2004, faithfully tallying each day’s For the out-of-town browser who Americana, is a special place sales by hand in her last years in found a few too many books to because here, people trump the shop. Joyce has taken an even lug home, never fear — the profits. Despite dramatic changes more active role, becoming Brattle offers worldwide shipping. in the world of books and book- something of a rare book expert selling, the future remains bright herself. She runs much of the The People make all the for the Brattle. It will continue to business side of the shop, Difference buy and sell hundreds of good manages Internet sales, and buys books every day, leading the way From the mobs that showed and appraises books. in expertise and service. The up on free book days in the ‘50s D e s p i t e t h e ch a l l e n g e s and ‘60s to the local supporters Brattle will thrive because of its presented by the Internet and who rallied to rebuild the shop history, it has built a reputation online auction sites, the Brattle after the fire in 1980 to the for prioritizing people — a thrives thanks in part to a loyal regular customers — one of reputation Ken and Joyce aim to customer base with an whom has been buying books keep intact. appreciation for the personal almost every day for a half- “There will always be people touch the shop provides. And all century — the Brattle’s story is out there who love books, so these years later, the shop still one about people. The Brattle there will be a place for a used doesn’t have a computerized has thrived because of the people book store,” Ken says. “Plus it’s inventory of its stock. That it brings together, from its helpful fun. I hope to do this as long as I doesn’t keep some shoppers from and book-savvy staff to the can.” scouring the shelves – sometimes dealers who gather for a chat stacked two books deep – for the around the pricing table — their Have Books to Sell? The Brattle’s famous sale The Brattle Book Shop buys used lot, open and rare books in all fields, from year-round, single volumes to large collections. except when They deal with individuals, it’s snowing lawyers, trustees and libraries. An or raining. in-store buyer is available Monday- Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and they make housecalls by appointment. Call the shop or visit their Web site for more details: (617) 542-0210 The Brattle Book Shop, 9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111 | (617) 542-0210 |