‘Buying books is a little bit like treasure hunting,’ Bookseller owner reminisces

by Colleen Hanke

The Bookseller has been a staple of the Akron community, at one location or another, since 1948. The book store was opened by Clarence Klein and his son Frank Klein. Nowadays, The Bookseller is at its third location, run by Frank’s daughter Andrea Klein. 

But after many fond years, The Bookseller is closing its storefront and becoming an online-only business. 

Andrea Klein made the decision to become an exclusively online store after the passing of her father, who had operated the business since 1970, last winter. 

“I’ll be sad to see it go. And it’s all tied in with my dad. My grandfather started it and my dad took over in 1970. So, you know, I’ll be sad to close it, but [I] kind of have to,” Andrea says.

Over the years, the shop has evolved based on which Klein family member was running it. 

“My grandfather was more of a book accumulator. He just liked books and you never knew what you’d find in there because it was just stuffed with books,” Andrea says. “But, my father really educated himself on books. He did rare books and was knowledgeable about books. He kind of raised the quality of our shop and did book fairs on the coasts and published catalogs and more that kind of stuff than just having people wander in off the street.”

Although the majority of their business comes from the physical store, The Bookseller has had an online presence since the ‘90s.

“I guess a lot of the book services started around ’94, ’95 and that’s when we started selling books online. So, we’ve been doing it ever since. That’s mostly been about 20 or 30% of our business,” Andrea says.

The store has been at its current location for nearly 20 years. The store appears quite small, but every nook and cranny is filled with books.

“One of the things that sold us on renting it is: there’s a conveyor belt to the storage [area], and you know, an aging bookseller… you can move books up and down on [it], that’s pretty cool,” Andrea says.

The Bookseller has hosted many events and book signings, but the memories that stick with Andrea are the customers.

“One of the things that goes right along with used bookstores is you get people who are like, ‘the expert’ in some very little narrow area. And there’s nothing they like better than to tell you all about it,” Andrea says.

She’ll miss those customers when The Bookseller becomes an online-only business.

“I know I won’t have as much contact with the public,” Andrea says. “One of the things the sale is doing: bringing back all the people that have been coming in for 30 years. Some of our customers started coming here when they were little kids.”

The other thing she’ll miss? Buying the books, of course.

“Buying books is a little bit like treasure hunting,” Andrea says. “People drag books in here and we look through them and see if there’s anything worth buying and once in a while you might find a rare book. So that’s fun too. It’s just a life, I guess.”

The storefront will be closing in August. Until then, the remaining books will be deeply discounted. After every book, shelf, and table is sold, The Bookseller will close its doors. But they will continue on at thebooksellerinc.com.

The Bookseller is located at 39 Westgate Circle, Akron, 44313. Their hours are Monday-Friday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday 12 pm-4 pm.

Colleen Hanke is a Media Studies student at The University of Akron.