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Monday, 18 August 2014

Best of Boston: Bookshops

 The Raven and the Brattle
The Raven

The Brattle's Ken Gloss
In 2009, John Petrovato began to search for a Boston location for a second store. Despite trepidation among the general public about the declining state of the retail book business, John felt a quality bookstore in a prime location could do well. In March, 2010, he opened Raven Used Books on the best known shopping street in New England-- Newbury Street in Boston.
The Raven's John Petrovato
Located between Gloucester and Fairfield streets, The Raven has already established itself as a prime tourist destination as well as local community bookstore. As in Harvard Square, neighbors and visitors alike were excited to see a privately owned local business open up in an area where chain stores have become more prevalent. In 2011, the store began hosting readings and book launches, including luminary speakers such as Noam Chomsky. In its first year of business, the book store sold almost 50,000 books. The Boston store was awarded "Best of the New" by the Boston Globe in 2010 and both shops won the Boston Phoenix's readers poll for "Best Used Bookstore" for 2011.
As opposed to many other booksellers in the country, John Petrovato believes that the market, though struggling, is still strong and plans to open up additional shops in the following years. As opposed to most bookstores who are putting more and more of their stock on-line and/or closing their doors, The Raven has very few books on line, as John prefers to have the best stock on the shelves for local customers rather than to be sold to anonymous buyers around the world. It is a practice that has helped build a loyal customer base and one of the strongest stock of books available on the shelves of a used bookstore.
Although his focus are now in the Boston and Cambridge area, John still has an interest and love for the Western Massachusetts book scene. He stocks the books for sale at Pages Coffee Bar and Bookstore, in the picturesque small town of Conway in the Pioneer Valley. The bookstore stocks about 8,000 well priced books in a nineteenth century Masonic temple on the corner of Rt. 116 and Shelburne Falls road. (Pages also has, hands down, some of the best coffee drinks around!) And finally, John's former business partner, Betsy Frederick, continues to own and run the original Raven Used Books, now a Northampton landmark, and has opened an exciting second location in Greenfield MA.

The Brattle
The Brattle Book Shop, founded in the Cornhill section of Boston in 1825, has been in the hands of the Gloss Family since 1949. Over the years George and his son Kenneth built this shop into one of the largest antiquarian book shops in the country.
Housed in a three-story building in the heart of Downtown Boston, The Brattle Book Shop carries an impressive stock of over 250,000 books, maps, prints, postcards and ephemeral items in all subjects. In addition to its general used and out-of-print stock, The Brattle Book Shop also maintains an inventory of first editions, collectibles and fine leather bindings in its rare book room.
Ken Gloss is the current proprietor of The Brattle Book Shop. He is a past President of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America’s New England Chapter. He also sits on the Associate Board of the Boston Public Library.
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