In the wake of last winter's acrimonious struggle over the management of the Concord Bookshop in Concord, Mass., which led the departure of all three managers—Jane Dawson, Carol Stoltz and Dale Szczeblowski—as well as 13 other employees, the former management team is about to open a store of its own, Porter Square Books. Three other ex-Concord booksellers, including associate buyer Jane Jacobs, are taking a minority stake in the store, which will open October 1 in North Cambridge, about a mile and a half from Harvard Square.
"We felt we had a good grasp of the book business, and if our services weren't wanted in Concord, we would pick up and go," Szczeblowski, the v-p of New England Booksellers Association and a member of the ABA Advisory Council, told PW. "The majority of the initial staff at Porter Square Books will be ex-Concord book people." In fact, the new 4,480-sq.-ft. bookstore and café, which is located in the Porter Square Shopping Center, will be especially convenient for many of the trio's former customers. It is located across the street from the commuter rail station, which has trains connecting Cambridge and Concord, and from a subway station. It also has free parking, a rare commodity in that part of Cambridge.
Szczeblowski, who is managing director for Porter Square Books and will do much of the buying, anticipates that the new store will open with a mix of titles similar to those at Concord. Porter Square Books will be a general bookstore with strong fiction, history, current affairs, travel and children's sections. Over time, those specialties may change. "The idea," he said, "is to serve the local Porter Square area, North Cambridge and Davis Square [a nearby section of Somerville]. We want to be the neighborhood bookstore." The store will carry some bargain books and used titles, audiobooks, as well as sidelines such as cards and calendars. An events area will allow the store to accommodate readings and other activities for 20 to 100 people. The store will be open nights and weekends and will participate in Booksense.com.