Vol. 11, No. 25 Dec. 31, 1998 - January 13, 1999


Barnes & Noble is Just the Beginning

He doesn't represent any of the neighborhoods we serve, but east Bronx Assemblyman Stephen Kaufman deserves credit for shepherding a Barnes & Noble bookstore to the borough. Like many Bronxites, he couldn't fathom how a borough of 1.2 million people had only two small general-interest bookstores. Like few others, however, he did something about it. He bugged, bothered, cajoled and convinced Barnes & Noble officials, making a strong case that a Bronx branch would succeed "beyond their wildest dreams."

The Bay Plaza store may or may not turn out to be a magnet for northwest Bronx residents, but Barnes & Noble's announcement is significant beyond who it draws from which neighborhoods to its new branch. It will show that the borough can support a large retailer selling non-essential goods (although many consider books a necessity!) and thereby attract other wary businesses to the Bronx.

It will also amply demonstrate Bronxites' appetite for the printed word, and that may spur other smaller booksellers to take root in neighborhoods throughout the borough. As Fern Jaffe of Riverdale's Paperbacks Plus says, even with the 25,000-square-foot superstore the Bronx will still be vastly "underbooked." Maybe elected officials and community leaders on this side of the Bronx River can build on Kaufman's accomplishment by seeking ways to "book" their own neighborhoods.

It's possible. Who thought a year ago Kaufman would succeed?

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