Pin It

North Country Books to Close on Church Street 

State of the Arts

For inveterate browsers, it's the end of an era. Since 1996, all they had to do was tromp down a flight of stairs in Richardson Place, at the top of Burlington's Church Street, to find a huge array of used and antiquarian books basking in 4000 well-lit square feet.

Now North Country Books, which opened on Cherry Street 14 years ago, is closing its real doors and taking all its operations into the virtual world, where owner Mark Ciufo says he's been doing brisk business for years. He's already selling books at a discount, and plans to stay open for at least another month, he says.

Ciufo, 48, is unusual among used-book sellers in that he acquires all his inventory locally, rather than from publishers looking to unload their overstock. He says he's handed out more than half a million dollars to individual sellers over the years. But, while Vermonters provided the books, about half the store's income came from "the Internet and tourists," Ciufo says. Passersby didn't always understand his pricing, he explains, which reflected the volumes' online market value. Collectors understand that "there's a value and aesthetic to used books."

After a disastrous December for retail, "I'm simply overgrown in the space and quite burnt out," Ciufo says. He cites the presence of Borders and the relocation of Banana Republic - which used to draw customers into Richardson Place - as reasons for North Country's declining sales over the past few years. Then there was the rise of the online marketplace, both a new revenue source and a curse. "The irony of the Internet is, it's forcing people like me to close," Ciufo says. "The logic of making more money is to cut the overhead and work independently. It's frustrating."

Ciufo doesn't rule out the possibility of reopening a bricks-and-mortar store someday. But for now, he plans to put the books in storage and work out of his home, aside from appearances at local book fairs. "And I'm gonna read," he says. "I haven't had a chance to read."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Margot Harrison

About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Arts News

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation