When You Lose Your Heritage

Probably the biggest event in the antiquarian bookselling community since the internet arrived was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Heritage Book Shop
, one of the leading antiquarian bookshops of the world, has announced a major downsizing that is sure to affect the trade for years to come.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1963 by brothers Louis and Benjamin Weinstein, Heritage has blossomed into a pillar of the antiquarian bookselling trade in this country and abroad.

The Weinstein’s have created one of the most beautiful high profile shops in the world and their inventory consists of some of the finest material available in the private market.

Their story is the rags to riches bookselling story of my generation.

All this is about to change (except the riches part).

-the Weinstein’s have announced that they have sold the building that houses the shop. There is no word if the chairs in the main room that were used in the film Gone with the Wind were included.

-a majority of their inventory will be auctioned off. One auction house has reportedly guaranteed them millions of dollars for the privilege.

-one of the brothers will be retiring while the other along with a family member will continue the Heritage name though in a much reduced capacity.

Consequences:

-the loss of the millions of dollars a year that Heritage spends on inventory purchased from other booksellers. This will surely have some repercussions.

-the first-tier book fairs of the world will take a hit too. The book fair success of many a bookseller is directly correlated to how much money Heritage spends. The New York Book Fair which is coming up in April will be the first test.

Talk about the trickle down theory.

Anyway you cut it it is a net loss for the trade, a trade that has already been knocked off balance by all the technological changes of the last 10 years.

I trust that it can withstand this too.

great article on the first year of business by Lou Weinstein, 1982
NYT article on the shop, 2005
article “To Live and Book in LA” that appeared in the now defunct Biblio magazine, 1998
Lux Mentis had a post on the news

This has been a low flying story so far.

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