Sunday, June 16, 2024


Author reading

Author readings were frequent at The Book Shop in Ball Square, Somerville, including a May 2013 visit by Dennis Lehane.

The Book Shop in Somerville’s Ball Square is closing at the end of February, with an everything-must-go sale underway since Monday.

Owner Gil Barbosa announced the closing then with a Facebook post describing his “heavy heart” and thanking his family as well as “some amazing people (and doggies too) … authors, artists, my Ball Square neighbors, my book club members and volunteers and everyone else, way too many to list.Thank you all for coming along on this wonderful journey with me. This is a community like no other, and I’ll miss you all. It’s been a great pleasure and I have memories that will last a lifetime.”

“That being said, everything must go,” Barbosa said. “Be sure to stop by and pick up some books, bookcases and fixtures … all available at deep discounts.”

Barbosa’s 900-square-foot shop, which opened at 694 Broadway on June 1, 2011, focused on used books in classical literature and nonfiction, some catering to reading lists for Somerville High School and Medford’s nearby Saint Clement High School, and the fantasy and science fiction genres – things he found appealed to buyers in the neighborhood, according to a profile posted by journalist Chris Orchard. He also brought in authors for frequent readings, which has helped stores such as Porter Square Books and the Harvard Book Store thrive.

But Barbosa was aware of the recent loss of another bookstore, Lorem Ipsum Books in Inman Square, which opened in 2004 but struggled to find a successful model even with some forbearance from its landlord. As he closed up shop in October, founder Matt Mankins said he hoped to return in some form “but for now need the rest.”

That resonated with Barbosa, who said Saturday that as much as he enjoyed running the store and engaging with customers – “Book people are just really nice people,” he has said – it was exhausting to battle against competition from electronic devices including e-readers that use downloaded digital copies of books, Amazon, which delivers books to readers’ front door; and big box stores. In addition to depleting his energy, it threatened to take all his money.

“I need to stop that before that happens,” he said.

News of the closing was met by customers and other residents with a slew of kind and sorrowful words, several calling it a loss for the neighborhood. There was also a response from Annie’s Book Stop in Waltham:

So many bookstores have closed in the last few years. It is not easy to have a small business in this state … I worry about my store as well. More people need to seek our local small businesses and support them. While the Internet can be a great tool, it is also stealing business from the little guys.

The Book Shop, 694 Broadway, Ball Square, Somerville, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday. Call (617) 764-1624 or click here.