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March 22, 2007

Comments

Justin

Although I am always sad when yet another used bookstore (or independent bookstore) in the area closes, I can think of two important reasons why this particular store might not be doing so well:

(1) They're really expensive and always have been; they've always been considerably more expensive than most other used bookstores, whether in the Boston area (of which there are fewer and fewer all the time) or elsewhere throughout New England.

(2) Some of the staff / ownership (I never knew which was which) could have tried to be a lot more friendly over the years. The worst incident I personally saw was when one frail old Russian woman was berated and humiliated by the manager / owner when she came in to ask whether they might be interested in buying some old Russian books left behind by her husband who had recently died. She made the mistake of using the word "ancient" when she really just meant "old" or "antique" -- the books evidently dated from the early 20th century -- and this appeared to irritate the staffperson to no end. I'm sure after her dressing-down she never came back. Even apart from this incident, I often felt that the staff was less than friendly; the No Dogs sign on the door didn't help either. Porter Square Books is a hell of a lot nicer on both counts :-).

Alas, it's true that the best thing about used bookstores is that one is more likely to find a book that one didn't know one needed -- there's no reason to use anything OTHER than the internet to find a used book that you KNOW you need -- perhaps if their prices had been a bit more competitive they would have done better on the Internet, too.

Ian Thal

McIntyre & Moore is simply my favorite bookstore. I have found many a treasure on their shelves over the years and they are often the first or second place I go when I am seeking something in particular. Whenever I am in Davis Square, I have to look for an excuse not to go inside (the only two excuses that seem to work for me are: a.) I just bought a book or two this past week; or b.) I am in a hurry.)

For the hardcore bibliophile, only Rodney's in Central Square compares.

Good Riddance

Hey Justin,
Great point about how arrogant these people are at McIntyre & Moore. The salestaff and/or management were simply a group of miserable people. I understood well the story of the Russian woman you brought up. I cleared out my library about two years ago and boxed up many very good hardcover books by Stephen King, Stephen Ambrose,and David McCullough, to name just a few. Most of these books I had bought brand new but many I bought at McIntyre & Moore. I put the boxes into my car and brought them to McIntyre & Moore. I carried one box inside and told the person behind the counter that I wanted to DONATE several boxes of books. I didn't want or expect a cent for these books, I just wanted someone else to get the enjoyment out of them that I did. The woman behind the counter gave me a nasty look and said in a nasty tone, "We don't take people's junk books. Go down the street and take them to the Goodwill store."

I thought she was kidding, if for no other reason than she hadn't even looked at the books and said, "THere's some good books in here and you can have them for free." She stared at me intently for a few seconds and said, "Sir, we don't want them!" I was shocked and left the store, NEVER toreturn for any reason. I got the APO address of a soldier in Iraq requesting books and sent them over at a fairly steep price, but it was well worth it. The soldiers got their books and I got several thank you cards.

The long and short of it that McIntyre & Moore is a victim of their own arrogance. Good riddance to them.

Doug Holder

McIntyre and Moore has hosted countless community events and groups...it gives a distinct flavor to the square...the square is full of eateries...but stores like used bookstores are becoming extinct...McIntyre and Moore is also a great supporter of the small presses in Somerville. Cervena Barva, Ibbetson Street and others have held readings, gotten great publicity, and sold publications through the store. I know Peter the manager there, and he is always welcoming and a gentleman, and the other staff I have worked with have been helpful as well..
It is a very tough business--the book business--and believe me Barnes and Noble don't carry many titles from local small presses--and just don't have the community-minded approach independent stores have...I hope McIntyre and Moore can stay in the square. Good article by David Taber by-the-way!

Come out your front door and look around...

Personally, speaking, a 'no dogs' sign would attract me to shop there. There's nothing worse than shopping beside someone else's dog.....against the Health Department regulations, by the way.
As for being community-minded, they might sponsor things within their little community of 'intellectuals', but they don't give back to the community at large. I'm talking about sponsoring little league teams, donating a raffle item for the high school drama club, buying an ad in a fundraiser for Elizabeth Peabody House, etc.

Manager

"They're really expensive and always have been"

Wanna take a wild guess what the rent is here? In my experience visiting and buying used books in the New England area over the past 13 years our prices were fair to low for the Boston Area and for what the books are. Sure one can find cheaper books in places like....Niantic, NH but, that's not on the Red Line. But to look at from the sellers perspective, should we offer just one dollar for your book you paid $25 for? We have always tried to be fair both with our offers when we buy books and the prices we mark them for the shelves. Our website discusses in great detail our buying, paying, and pricing philosophy.

"Some of the staff / ownership (I never knew which was which) could have tried to be a lot more friendly over the years."

Perhaps you are correct, but the incident you write about involved Mr McIntyre. I can't speak for him. I'm told it is his store after all. Myself, sure I've had my "moments" but, I have made more friends and contacts than moments had.

However

"I cleared out my library about two years ago and boxed up many very good hardcover books by Stephen King, Stephen Ambrose,and David McCullough, to name just a few."

We are a scholarly used book dealer & have been for 25 years. If you have ever looked in the yellow pages you'll see that we ask that people make appointments to sell books. It saves you time not lugging them around and our time not having to look at books we simply can't use. While it is kind of you to think that we NEED donations we are a for profit privately owned company. Perhaps a non-profit, like Goodwill, would be happy to have your bestsellers of yesteryear. As for the staffs "rudeness" how many times in how many ways does one need to say we can't use your books? I'll end by stating that we have about 300,000+ books in boxes waiting our attention already.

"McIntyre and Moore has hosted countless community events and groups...it gives a distinct flavor to the square"

True that thanks Doug! We're still sure to be around for the next year so keep 'em coming.

"I'm talking about sponsoring little league teams, donating a raffle item for the high school drama club, buying an ad in a fundraiser for Elizabeth Peabody House, etc."

We have done extensive work with the Somerville Arts Council, selling light tour tickets, greeting cards, the new Illuminations book, the windows art project (when it was in Davis Sq) etal. It's sad when in a day you pull in more money for the Arts Council than the store itself took in. We sell the Brown School community card for the school. They have taken in a lot of money over the past 3 years and Harris is always extremely thankful. We also have been selling a Lincoln Park community school cookbook. IN EACH EXAMPLE HERE WE MAKE EXACTLY $0.00. What we have is a space to facilitate these things. What we don't have is a lot of cash. We have also made donations, both books and gift certificates, to various auctions for many non-profit Somerville and Boston area causes. In fact whenever we are approached to make a donation for an auction we do. Sorry of this isn't enough for you though. As a homeowner in Somerville it's enough for me to be proud.

And last but not least onto The Dogs:
"the No Dogs sign on the door didn't help either"

That sign came down 2(?) years ago. Let's say you had people come to your house with their dog. Said dog takes a do-do inside your home but the lovely owner doesn't say anything to you and leaves. You "discover" your new piece of furniture later on. Then it happens again. Then it happens again. What would you do, still allow dogs in? Do you have so much free time to walk around happily picking up feces?

Gloria Mindock

My experience with the McIntyre & Moore Booksellers has been a wonderful one. Peter, the manager of the store, has been a gem to me and Cervena Barva Press. I had my first anniversary reading there of the press and have my second anniversary reading there again in April. Peter, has accepted the chapbooks I published, and puts them out where they can be seen. The bookstore is wonderful to the small press. I hate to see any independent bookstore close their doors. Stores like this add so much character to the square. It would be a terrible loss. The staff working there are great! Mary Curtin, who is the events coordinator for the store, does a great job too. I love the place! I hope everyone reading this will go in and buy some books to help support them. Please, lets keep this bookstore in it's place, and that is in Davis Square!
Thank you Peter, Mary and all the staff at McIntyre & Moore-
Gloria Mindock/Cervena Barva Press

Derek

Sounds to me like a lot of whining. "Whaaaa! People don't want to shop at my store anymore!" They're losing business, so clearly it must be the fault of the changing square and not the bookstore failing to keep up with an ever-changing market. No, that can't be! And the owner trying to insinuate that only intellectuals shop at used book stores? And the Intellectuals are cash strapped? I buy my used books online because they always have just what I'm looking for. I am not cashed strapped. Therefore, I must not be an intellectual.

Derek

Re: Manager's Comments

"We are a scholarly used book dealer & have been for 25 years. If you have ever looked in the yellow pages you'll see that we ask that people make appointments to sell books. It saves you time not lugging them around and our time not having to look at books we simply can't use. While it is kind of you to think that we NEED donations we are a for profit privately owned company. Perhaps a non-profit, like Goodwill, would be happy to have your bestsellers of yesteryear. As for the staffs "rudeness" how many times in how many ways does one need to say we can't use your books? I'll end by stating that we have about 300,000+ books in boxes waiting our attention already."

- You seem to exhibit the EXACT behavior the original poster was detailing. Thanks for proving his point. There's a nice, professional way to handle something and an asshat way to do it. As for the yellow pages - are you serious? There are people out there that actually take their yellow page books inside and use them instead of gunning them right into the recycle bin? Is this 1990? Also, if you're a "Schollary used book dealer" then maybe you should remove the "General" from the sign, eh?

Repeat shopper

I've had the great fortune to find a number of rare editions by my favorite authors at McIntyre & Moore, and for prices that I've felt are at least competitive, if not the lowest. However, I agree with those who've found the staff difficult to deal with. In all my years of shopping in the store, I've never managed to get a smile out of any of them, and they've been rude to me on a number of occasions. While I appreciate the business, and I would hate to see them shut down as a result of the gentrification of the square, I do find myself using other sources to find books before going in and facing the people in the store. I'm a huge supporter of local and independent businesses, but it would be nice if McIntyre & Moore made a bigger commitment to customer service.

Aurora

I've enjoyed browsing through M & M, and have found some real book treasures throughout the years. I do agree that the staff is not overtly friendly, and the place is a bit shabby looking, but I enjoy browsing without being approached. Every time I asked for help, I was attended to quickly and graciously. I think the bigger problem is that Massachusetts in general is becoming a stagnant place to live, the economy is not good, Boston is so cost prohibitive that artists and bohemian types are leaving in droves, especially the cool areas, like Davis Square. I have moved away for these reasons. So that means I can't frequent my favorite haunts anymore. Note to M & M staff - would love to see you in a new home, can you make the store a bit more inviting somehow? I always felt like I had to strain my eyes to look through all the books, perhaps a different organization system easier on the eyes? The store in Central Square would be my ideal look.
thanks.

Good Riddance

Dear "Manager,"

Thanks for taking an interest in my post. I would first like to point out that your sign says you are a "Scholarly and General Used Book Store." You conveniently left out the "General" part when you called my literary taste "bestsellers of yesteryear." No need to be so haughty. That was the point of my oroginal post. You know, the point about your store hemorrhaging customers.

If you are indeed a manager at McIntyre & Moore, take a bit of free advice when it comes to customer service: When people complain about the treatment they received, FIX IT! Don't attack your customers. No wonder you can't make the rent.

You wrote, "If you have ever looked in the yellow pages you'll see that we ask that people make appointments to sell books." If you read what I wrote, I was trying to GIVE my books away, not sell them. There really wouldn't need to be an appointment for that. Again, pay attention to what your former customers are saying,it might help you save your job.

You said that "it is kind of you to think that we NEED donations we are a for profit privately owned company." McIntyre himself said, "Business has taken a downturn in the last few years, forcing them to cut staffing and decrease inventory." He said that future rents may cause him to move. Upon reflection, maybe you do NEED my books after all. You may "have about 300,000+ books in boxes waiting... attention," but you apparently need more books to pique people's interest.

How many times do you have to say that you don't need my books, you ask? None, because I'll never be back. And the irony of it all is that nobody else will be back either... after you close.

Book buyer

I have been browsing and buying at M&M since it opened here. I was overjoyed when they came to Davis and will be heartbroken if they leave.

I have never found the staff to be anything but helpful. I have sold books to them, after carefully reading their posted description of the kind of books they like to have in their inventory.

Honestly, some of the people who have written negative messages are incredibly entitled. You want each merchant to be exactly what you want, to accept your generous donation of Stephen King or whatever, and you get surly when you aren't treated exactly as you think you ought to be treated.

It will be a great loss to the Square if it loses one more business like this. Davis Sq. is being ruined.

Linda Haviland Conte

I would be truly sorry to see Mc&Mo go. I love the store and the manager has been a great friend to my kid's school in helping with their fundraiser, and a great friend to intellectual life in our area. I'm going to buy some books this week!

Ben

Nice store, crappy staff.
That's been my opinion since they arrived in Davis.

Richard

The big issue is not whether or not M & M has flaws. It is more one of how the expensive rents have become on Elm Street. Maybe they should take a cue from Porter Sq books, clean the place up, and install a coffee shop at the front. As for dogs, it is not such a hardship to leave the dog at home, although it is probably poor for business to eliminate the many casual strollers who have their dogs in tow. Why not try imposing a 15 minute limit on any given dog's presence in the store? I think that most dog owners would understand the logic of such a rule. Many's the time I would have run in for a few minutes (with dog) just to see if any new "finds" had appeared in the design section.

Michael McIntyre

First a correction to the story: The 500 square foot space was the storefront (across from Starr in the basement of the Lampoon building, which was great) the 2200 sf was the basement, rented from Harvard Real Estate, now offices and storage for them. And "intellectual" isn't a word I use willingly. The quote most likely should be "the literate are always broke" but I meant those for whom literacy is a vice, and they decrease.
Then re comments: In the used book business, the most fun is in the buying part, but one has to be able to pay for the books and expect to price and shelve them relatively soon. A few people take credit instead of money, at half again a better deal for them and a more cheerful deal for us,but fewer people can use credit than in the past, and I surely don't blame them. No one has time, no one has space, and it looks like genetically modified crops have screwed up the immune systems of commercial honeybees (google "bee colony collapse disorder", read links, consider things unsaid).

Anyway, I was grumpy before, but I must admit that having no money to buy with, having to always say in essence "no I can't do you any good" or else increase the debt load,has made me worse. And it's always been a pride thing to not take donations, to pay for any inventory, so the staff is told not to let unexpected boxes be dropped off, but I'm very sorry if indeed the word "junk" was used. Publishers are often criminal in their production standards but that doesn't make any of their stuff junk.
People who wouldn't go into any other type of retail used to end up in the used book business, because of the books themselves. Please, in any used bookstore, look at the books themselves.

david t.

Sorry to have mixed up the sq. footage there mike. I am 99% sure looking at my notes and corroborating with my acute memory that you did say intellectuals.

Either way, this was a really interesting fun story to write and I wish you the best of luck.

Michael McIntyre

Dave T: you got the square footage right, that is the smaller space was the earlier space, but it was also the one that wasn't a basement. It's Bow St Flowers now, assuming they're still open. How about writing a story on bee Colony Collapse Disorder?

Ron Newman

Not sure what you're referring to. Are there bee colonies or beekeepers in Somerville?

(By the way, I very much hope you stay open and stay in Davis Square.)

plushtown

Probably not, but there are food eaters and leader followers.

Matt Goodman

I like M&M. It is like a library where you don't have to bring the books back. The staff has never been rude to me (and I could care less if they're smiley), but then again I've never tried to sell them something. When I have asked for info they've always been very helpful.

Mike

I won't miss M&M because their selection has always been a bit too dry and esoteric for me. When I want to find interesting used books I head to Loren Ipsum, Bryn Mawr or Rodneys.

Turil

I love used books stores, and I hope that either McIntyre and Moore can figure out what it needs to do to bring more customers in and keep them, or that another similar business can. Perhaps the management could try hiring a business coach or consultant to come in and try to turn the place around in the next year, to help them build on the good stuff, and find ways to get rid of the bad stuff...

Brian Beck

Yeah, open up the front area, put in a coffee area, attract people in, cheer up the staff, wireless internet for a monthly fee, some aggresive marketing, discounts, bulk buy offers, book rental and hopefully stay on in Davis. From what I hear, the landlord there is amenable to 'weird retail'!

Ben Saren

I personally don't think that M&Ms problems have anything to do with, what some may consider, arrogant or haughty staff/ownership. I don't think it has anything to do with them not accepting someones Stephen King books. I also don't think it has anything to do with dogs. I've never purchased a single book from M&M, but I have browsed through several times out of sheer intrigue and fascination. I'm not a scholarly kinda guy. M&M has its own unique flavor, it's own target audience, and it's own niche - hence its long time success. While it's not a place for me, I always understood and respected what/who it's meant for. The bottom line is bigger than any of these matters - it's about economics - business, that's it folks. The landlords can raise their prices because they are running a business, not a charity. M&M may or may not be able to afford those new prices. But the building owner is entitled to run his business and demand higher rents. It's a fact of life and business - rents go up. Period. Secondly, this is a matter of supply and demand. Clearly Davis Square has changed, and continues to change. The clientèle that M&M serves is not the crowd you see walking through the square these days anymore. Maybe it was at some point, but clearly it's not anymore. M&M is having a hard time because the local market and their conditions have changed - a lot, for better or for worse, you decide. I'm willing to bet that it also has something to do with the Internet as well as the big book chains like Barnes and Noble, Borders etc. All of these things play a much much more significant role in M&Ms struggles than the little things. In defense of "manager" I'm also willing to bet that for every complaint or negative opinion on the street, there are 20x the happy customers and positive reviews. No matter how you slice it and dice it, M&M is GOOD for Davis Square. M&M is GOOD for the community. All local businesses are good for the community - dogs allowed or not, arrogance or not. The benefits are huge. And even though I've never purchased a book at M&M, I know the owners, I know people who do shop there, and I can say hands-down, M&M is an asset to Davis Square, to Somerville, to the community, and if they left, it'd be a damn shame.

Very Literate Book Lover

I just came across this article. I have shopped at McIntyre & Moore for at least ten years. The very first comment above says that they have high prices. I have to assume that "Justin" has not really done his homework here...their prices are fair to the point of cheap. Many comments invoke Rodney's in Central Square, which is a nice enough place, with prices that are usually about 50% more than what I think I'd pay. If I pick up a book that looks like $9, Rodney's wants $15. Most of my visits to Rodney's end with me leaving empty handed.

Pets do not belong in public retail stores. "No Dogs" is an entirely appropriate restriction for a bookstore. I'm rolling my eyes in disgust at the number of people who have commented above about this.

The folks who are outraged that the store didn't want to buy (or otherwise take) their books are really full of themselves. Why don't I box up a bunch of old things that I no longer want and bring them to your house? I'm GIVING them to you, how dare you tell me that you don't want them?? The store's policies are clearly stated on their website, in their phone book ads (yes, some humans do occasionally consult a phone book), in flyers available for pickup in the store, and over the phone if you'd care to check first. "Good Riddance," thanks for making me laugh until I cried with your whining and threats. I'm sure the store manager feels the same way. You're never coming back? Thank goodness!

I'm not always treated graciously by the staff. But because I'm a grown-up, I don't really care. I'm not there to make friends, I'm there to buy books. McIntyre & Moore is a book lover's bookstore. The fewer whiny complainers that shop there, the better it will be for those of us who are serious about our books.

Dear Very Literate

You sound like the manager that commented earlier.

Who are you to assume that Justin didn't do his homework. He's making an observation from his personal experiences, NOT YOURS. You're a typical progressive... everything has to be viewed through your eyes or its wrong.

I'll go with you on thhe dog issue. Dogs don't belong in stores.

As for Good Riddance, he's trying to do something kind to help out a bookstore that's OBVIOUSLY struggling and you crap on the guy. It's not an issue of you packing up some of your old things an bringing them to his house. There isn't a nexus between your crap and his house. As for M&M, it's a used bookstore and he was trying to give them used books that may have some value to them.

As for your comments about fewer whiny complainers, you fail to see the issues here. M&M needs all the customers it can get, even the whiney ones. And if you want to keep your little paradise open you better hope these whiners come back.

And don't look now you little jerk, but after reading your post, it's clear you've become one of the whiners you detest so much.

M. Rowe

In regard to the angry fiction reader,
A business needs to be run as just that, a business. I ask you to take a moment and step outside your little world and try to understand the following. If a used bookstore was to simply take "donations" from every person who wanted to get rid of their old books, then they'd have piles of books that they don't have room for and wouldn't sell.

You certainly painted a noble picture of yourself with the "solider in Iraq" tale, but you failed to even consider what happened from the perspective of the business. Something that troubles me about your story is if you were just looking to donate the books, then why didn't you proceed immediately over to the Good Will store and donate them there after you couldn't donate them to McIntyre and Moore? I mean, are we to believe that you were so overcome with anger and grief from your experience that you all together lost your bearings and forgot why you were down in Davis Square in the first place? Or we you divinely inspired at that moment to find a soldier overseas that needed your used fiction books?

I think your story is lacking in truth. From your comment, it is apparent that you have absolutely no idea how a business is run. To post such a nasty comment because you felt slighted due to a rebuff from one employee is hardly cause to claim that everyone who works at McIntyre and Moore is a "miserable" person. Your comment gives the impression that you are, in fact, the only one who is miserable.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

The M&M Story - Plain or Peanuts?

I'm grateful to the "News" for posting this story. I have several cartons of old, used books stored at the U-Haul storage place over near Alewife Brook Parkway. For years I've been wondering what the hell to do with them. Now I know.

The first Editions of those depressing Dickens novels(signed by Charles himself), two Guttenberg Bibles, a couple of diaries by a girl named Frank, some travel logs and postcards from my good friend Amelia while she was staying on Howland Island, plus all those damn handwritten manuscripts from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow I cleaned out of his barn over in Cambridge, all that stuff needs a new home.

Now that I know M&M is closing and won't take it as a donation, can I impose on some of you to help me lug it on down to the Goodwill store?

There's $5.00 in it for ya.

Littteratttley Yours,

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

barb

I would be very sorry to see M&M close. I am a frequent visitor to Boston and I don't consider my visit complete without a visit to the store. I usually have to ship books home to avoid being charge for the extra weight in my luggage. I hope the owners of the store find a way to stay in their current location.

Alternative Bookstyle

People being putting off by the treatment they received at M&M? Shocking!

I take my computer to the Diesel, get a cup of coffee, and browse for my used ans scholarly books online so I don't have to deal with those psuedo-intellectual frauds like M. Rowe and Manager. Businesses come, and those that can't adapt, go. I don't understand why everyone has to try and pump up their literary pedigree when they talk about reading books. I guess there's alot of pretending going on.

Try Alibris.com and Amazon (they can get them used as well)... you'll love it!

Tricky

AB, why even crawl out of your cave at all then? Why not order your books online from the comfort of your living room, or while you're sprawled out in your pajamas on your bed? I suspect you come to Davis Square because it's an eclectic shopping district, otherwise you'd be lugging your laptop to Panera out in Everett, overlooking Old Navy and PetSmart. I most certainly hope they stick around, because whatever cachet you're looking for at Diesel would certainly be lessened by a City Sports next door.

I used to do a ton of business at M&M. I was shocked, shocked to have to make appointments to sell books there over the last couple of years (I used to dutifully march into the Cambridge store with a couple of milk crates of books every three months, like clockwork), but instead of feeling offended, I just sucked it up.

The used bookstore circuit is a weird thing; I've got four milk crates of books (another college habit failing to die) ready to be parceled out. After 15 years, you get a pretty good idea of which bookstores will take which, and which ones just to drag up the hill to the library sale.

I would love to spend more time in the store, but it's hard due to the Trickettes - which also means I've picked up two more competitors for the book budget in Chez Tricky. I know M&M has a reasonable selection, but often the girls are looking for something a little less scholarly (cf. the "Captain Underpants" series) which I'm pretty sure M&M doesn't carry.

i heart david square

I am really discouraged by how many people have commented on this article with negative remarks.

It depresses me that folks in or around this neighborhood would log on here and complain at all about a local biz...if you got food poisoning or something like that I would understand that.

Most of you that have commented probably have never worked at a local business.

It is HARD work surviving in a world of Wal-Mart type box stores.

They should be commended on perservering in a changing world, not slagged for it.

Anyone that has worked in retail can also certainly understand that it can be VERY difficult to put on a happy face every single minute- there are a lot of crazies out there!

I dislike how quickly people will slam local businesses online rather than just go to the source and have a discussion with an owner, or whoever is in charge. It must be very discouraging to see negative comments online, without much of a way to defend themselves.

I think the change is the square recently is positive. People who complain about all of the new businesses need to realize that the "hip" factor of the square is the same reason why your property value has quadrupled in the last ten years!

I have heard from a very reliable source that M & M does very much want to stay- so i would not hold a funeral for them yet.

Davis needs a bookstore

Like some of the other writers, I also spend time browsing in M&M whenever in the square. But my husband and I have a specific idea about how to improve business there: improve the fiction section!

We are both avid readers and in fact my husband's a fiction writer, but most of the fiction writers the store carries are a strange mix. Even when I was in grad school in American & English lit, I could never find the writers I needed there. I think the store could really bring in more money if the criteria for buying fiction were changed.

Davis Sq needs a bookstore -- a place to hang out reading and maybe buying that's not just selling food.

The staff could work on their attitude, too-- I always thought it was just that they didn't like kids, even though they have a decent kids' section.

a literate mom

M & M adds so much to the square. A used bookstore used to be taken for granted, they used to be everywhere. Now I feel that Davis is enhanced and special for having one.

Though I used to perceive M&M as a bit esoteric for my taste, since having a child I've spent many hours there reading him picture books, then buying an item or two to take home with us. I always found the used kids books reasonably priced, and the staff never ever minded us hanging out and reading for long amounts of time. And we really, really appreciated that.

Michael McIntyre

Well, thanks to people for comments all. The problem with fiction is that there about 20 fiction authors one really wants but almost never sees used, and then one copy at a time, or from a hurts or remainder skid, where one can buy desiderata deeper if only available. So we buy related stuff if offered, have backup copies of Bukowski New Poems Book 1, .. 2, ..3, ..4 for instance (online too). We also used to buy a lot of literary criticism, literary history, but now can't except for cult subject-authors and ancient through early modern stuff. When 'Davis needs a bookstore' was a grad student, if any other student had the same list and used it first, bingo we're an inadequate bookstore. If either student looked for related material on the back wall of the store - arranged by the author it's about (if possible) for such purpose - they might have found something useful then or later, if they kept in mind the directions they were going in and so what they'd need/want next year and on, but internet makes that habit less useful. There are also a few rows of author biographies and letters/papers.
But grad students and junior faculty seem to have less and less interest in things tangential. Fewer & fewer have time or space or energy for books not required. There are about 3 dozen colleges/universities in the Boston area but it's people from out of town, for us and other used bookstores, that seem to find the most books. By the way, in-store & internet sales are down for the several used bookstores I've talked to, local & nationwide, starting last spring mostly.

Ron Newman

Hi, Michael. I hope you can keep your store open in Davis Square. You may want to look in on the similar discussion at Davis Square LiveJournal, and perhaps comment there as well.

Very Literate Book Lover

"Dear Very Literate"
OMG you made my day. I'm not the store manager. I believe he has posted several times as "Manager." Nor am I a former employee or anything like that. But you are on the right track. Who am I to make the assumptions and statements that I've made? I'm someone with nineteen years experience working in the book business, in everything from libraries to bookstores to publishing to printing. I know my books, I know the book business, and I stand by my statements.

Being called "you little jerk" is awesome though. I was in a rotten mood today, but I saw that and now I can't stop laughing. My sincere thanks to you!

Dominic Santos

It would be wonderful if M&M offered a coffee shop area. I went to a bookstore in D.C. that felt like M&M but also featured a coffee shop/restaurant. It was great.

Dominic

Manager

Dear, "Dear Very Literate"

"You sound like the manager that commented earlier."

I assure you that I am not nor would I stoop to such a level as to disguise myself and hope that any other posters here were adhering to the same ideal.

VL- wanna job? [tongue & cheek]

Scholarly Reader

Manager,
Just to clarify, the expression you used is incorrect. It's not "tongue & cheek," it's "tongue IN cheek."

From one scholar to another...
Good luck.

Michael McIntyre

Hmm. I had assumed the & was meant as a variation, once again a dangerous form of humor. But in any case he's not being accused of pomposity so much as the ownership is, particularly me since I'm the subject of the brutal vignette in the second part of the first comment, following the untrue "They're really expensive and always have been". In Harvard Square, Starr was almost always a tiny bit over us, often just 50 cents, and Pangloss was considered expensive locally because his prices were more like those in other major cities. Since then, as the internet market has expanded, copies of titles that used to be in book barns across the country at essentially wholesale prices, plus those sold at yard sales and library sales for less, have hit the internet , competing to be the cheapest, starting nowadays at a penny plus room on the shipping. We aim to be the cheapest comparable copy ourselves on that date on the titles we put up individually, mostly more antiquarian than the store upstairs. But we'll often put books we really like, especially math or medieval, at $35 in the store rather than $50 on the internet. If they end up in their subjects - where more browsers will see them- rather than on the platform near ancient history, they look expensive whether they are or not. Actually, I think anything over $15 compares pretty well with internet, as does much of the under $15 when one considers shipping costs, uncertainty as to condition, and delay.
I don't go to physical stores myself much anymore. The internet killed the great bulk of dealer-to-dealer business, so when I go I feel like a spy not a customer. But I was at a poetry reading at Rodney's last fall, and the titles I looked at on the shelves were higher than us. Table stock was at the same level as ours, usually is. But don't compare table stock prices to shelved prices. Table stock of new books (remainders or hurts) is always cheaper than used books, or at least has been since the mid-60's. Oh, and don't compare new book stores, like Porter Square, to used. If there's demand, new bookstores can order things. Used bookstores have already sold it if they had it, cannot satisfy your demand.

But the "frail old Russian woman" story is much worse, more damning. At the time I was sworn to not buy out of core areas, and if offered core to try to delay until current bills were paid. I believe it was also shortly after I did the martial arts mouse cartoon and before the polar bear one at www.furrylogick.com (there are only 10 cartoons on now, should have 45 more soon, am bad with computers. E-mail michael@furrylogick.com if you don't know what they're about and want to). In any case, I felt I couldn't do anything for her. I think she did use the English "ancient", but that's just a non-native speaker usage, would never be true. But if she had had antiquarian Russian books, I could have directed her to someone with significant money to buy same. If it was even pre-1950, as remembered in the first comment, each decade has potential of intensely interesting material, and I could either justify increased debt load or refer her to someone. She had 1970's & 80's stuff, bought here she said. I still should have set up the house call. People almost always tell you the least saleable stuff in an estate and there probably was more direct from Russia than she thought. But if I went I'd spend money whether something amazing was there or not. So I really felt I couldn't do anything for her. I wasn't angry at her, but at the situation. (Her husband's dead - he left something that should be able to pay some bills- I can't justify the money). I think I did suggest Boston Book Company as more actively buying , I hope so. I think I did apologize to her for my manner as well, but any of that would have been quieter than what was overheard.

Oh, David Taber is correct that he wrote down "Intellectuals" for the always broke line, and I let him. It was a rephrasing I agreed to because he liked it better. Sorry I forgot, and sorry I agreed to it. The term is dangerous unless referring to the past.


Michael

I'm incredibly sad to hear that M&M might close. I visit the store weekly (some times more so). I always find something interesting in the shop, and everything is reasonably priced. The staff is ok, some times a little out there, but I really come for the books and the serendipitous moment of finding something unique. What I think is changing is there are fewer readers of serious stuff out there - less interest in the scholarly. This has been true for a lot of book shops - for example, WH Allen in Philadelphia had a great selection of classics and medieval titles. Now they are an internet only shop. Hopefully the owners will find a way - like Diesel Cafe did - to re-negotiate their lease and stay in the square. It would be a tremendous loss - it's one of my favorite places in the Boston area.

michael mcintyre

In effort to pay rent and pay down some debt, we're having a 40% off sale through 9/12. Open to 11 pm 7 days, including Labor Day.

Jesse Ross

I love Macintyre and Moore so much that I was actually getting mad at some of the comments here. That never happens to me, but it feels personal here. To "Good Riddance": to expect a bookstore to take your garbage is piggish and stupid. Might as well take your half-eaten Big Mac to Wendy's and expect them to take it, and thank you for the privilege.

Macintyre & Moore is unique and perfect. I've never seen any other store in the U.S. match the quality of its selection in classics or medieval and old English. I've bought some of my very favorite books there, such as a charming edition of the "Promptorium Parvulorum". I've spent hours dreaming over the lovely woodcuts in the out-of-my-price-range facsimile "De Re Metallica" or Vesuvius' anatomy which were with the fancy books up front. It's a privilege to be able to freely leaf through many of these things in a pleasant atmosphere, even if I can't buy them.

I could go on and on. Mac & Moore is a national treasure. And not just for the esoteric stuff which makes it unique; it's reliably very good for cookbooks and children's books too. I've found the staff universally friendly, the vibe pleasantly bookish, and the prices excellent. I would be really depressed to see it go.

Brian

Hear hear!

Patrick McIntyre

McIntyre & Moore sounds like a unique establishment with unique people. If they sold coffee it might make them more like Fox Books in the movie You've Got mail. If they trained their staff to smile at all times they might be more like Fox Books. If they carried the popular titles they might be more like Fox Books. But then they wouldn't be McIntyre & Moore. Apart from outright rudeness, Perhaps the smileless faces, the targeted inventory and the absence of coffee helps make McIntyre & Moore what it is. Sardi's is not diminished because it isn't like Ruby Tuesdays.

Early one morning, I was the only customer in a fantastic French Bistro in the Hillcrest section of San Diego, CA. I drank excellent coffee and ate a freshly baked (on the premesis) Napoleon. Four doors down there was a Starbucks with ten to fifteen people standing in line for coffee that was just as good but cost twice what I paid and pastry which was not even in the same class as the Napoleon I consumed. I don't think the people in Starbucks were buying just coffee and pastry - I think they were buying something that made them feel better about themselves. Franchises package their product and services to make people feel good about themselves. I doubt if McIntyre & Moore has ever considered trying to make their customers feel good about themselves.

Adam Selene

It's true that the staff at M&M is sometimes a bit gruff and uninterested. That could definitely be improved.

On the other hand, one of them spent over an hour looking for a book that a friend of mine had seen in the store, and that I wanted to buy. (Unfortunately, he didn't find it -- might have been sold, but I'll never know.)

I used to be disappointed that their science fiction section seems to continually shrink -- I expect it to become a singularity some time soon. But what I've come to realize is this. Most everyone buys that stuff online now. And why not? The value of a place like M&M in the modern world is being able to browse stuff that I don't actually know whether I want. This often applies to obscure cookbooks, history, even the picture books someone mentioned -- but generally not SF.

Borders and Barnes & Noble succeed because they push out large volumes of pulp at high (full retail) prices. A local used bookstore is just not in the same business.

Ron Newman

Fortuantely, M&M is staying in the neighborhood. They're having a 50% off sale at their current store until March 19 (or maybe March 20). Shortly after that, they will reopen at 1971 Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge, the former location of Bookcellar Café, below Bob Slate.

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