If you consider stores like Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca to be a dying breed, Ithaca’s oldest independently owned book shop is on life support.
The store has fallen deep into debt: nearly $100,000.
“There are a lot of people buying books,” explains Woody Chichester, the store’s manager. “They just aren’t necessarily buying them here.”
Physical book sales have been outpacing e-books recently, but that hasn’t helped smaller stores like Buffalo Street. Publishers recently stopped sending the shop new releases because they are not getting paid.
But more than 100 people showed up at an emergency meeting held by the store’s Board of Directors last week. An anonymous donor gave the store a $6,000 check at the meeting.
“Book culture, the community that lives around us, is very much a social thing,” Rob Vanderlan, the store’s board president, said. “That’s something we can do that the Amazons of the world cannot.”
The group has discussed several options for climbing out of debt, including fundraising or reducing space, but a long-term fix hasn’t been figured out. The store has been cooperatively owned for the past several years.
“I can’t imagine Ithaca without a bookstore,” Chichester said. “The community, I think, feels the same way.”
Buffalo Street Books’ Board of Directors will meet Monday to discuss plans for the store’s future.