Labyrinth may close

With no buyer in sight, the closing of Labyrinth is inevitable and a new bookseller may move in.
With no buyer in sight, the closing of Labyrinth is inevitable and a new bookseller may move in. Photo by Christopher Peak.

Unless a buyer steps in with an offer, Labyrinth Books could close in as soon as two weeks.

For the last few months, the York Street bookstore, which has offered Yale course books as well as a variety of academic titles for more than five years, has searched for a buyer without success, said Labyrinth Books’ manager Martha MacDonald. The store has not ordered any course books for the upcoming academic year, MacDonald said, and on Monday several of the store’s shelves, including long stretches of the higher bookcases, had been cleared.

“We’re hoping for a Hail Mary buyer,” MacDonald said. “Times are tough in books.”

Labyrinth’s co-owner Dorothea Von Moltke said in an email Wednesday that plans were still being finalized for a new bookseller to move into the space, but declined to comment further.

Factors in the potential close include the increase in prices of new editions, the economic downturn and the difficulty of competing with online retailers like Amazon, MacDonald said.

“Kids will [buy a book], move seven feet away, turn on their laptops and see that Amazon is selling it for $15 less — and then say, ‘I want to return this,’” she said.

Store owner Clifford Simms could not be reached for comment.

The bookstore’s property, along with Yorkside Pizza and part of Toad’s Place, is owned by ANG Realty, Yorkside Pizza’s co-owner Anthony Kontronmanis said. On Monday, Kontronmanis said he had not heard of the bookstore’s search for a buyer or potential closing, and said the property leased by Labyrinth is not up for sale.

Undergraduate students generally were unconcerned by the news that the bookstore may close. Of 14 students interviewed, seven said they did not buy any books from Labyrinth in the past year, and six more had bought five or fewer. Marisa Karchin ’14 said she bought 10 books from Labyrinth Books in the past year, but said the closing would only be a minor inconvenience, as she would have shopped online instead.

But Pruittiporn Kerdchoochuen ’11 said that while she had not bought any books from Labyrinth this year, the store played an important role.

“It’s nice to have an option that’s not a big chain,” she said.

For the store’s part, though, MacDonald said the amount of customers has visibly decreased.

“If a community wants a bookstore to stay … the first thing they should do is buy the books,” MacDonald said.

Erin Carter ’12 said she was not concerned as long as the Yale Bookstore continued to carry the same books.

While the New Haven bookstore might be closing, MacDonald said there are no plans to close the Labyrinth Books in Princeton, N.J.

Of the books already removed from the shelves, all standard edition books are being sent back to publishers, while discounted books will go to Great Jones Books, an academic wholesale book company owned by the brother of Simms, MacDonald said.

Before Labyrinth, the storefront was occupied by Book Haven for 22 years.

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