October 24, 2013

Beloved Boston bookstore set to reopen its doors


Barbara’s Bestsellers. (image via LibaryThing/Tim Spalding.)

Book-loving travelers of New England suffered an almost catastrophic blow in the spring of 2013 when Chicago-based chain Barbara’s Bookstores was forced to shutter its store in Boston’s South Station in order to make way for a new branch of a well-known Seattle-based coffee giant with locations on the corner of every street everywhere. But, with Publisher’s Weekly reporting that owner Don Barliant has “Signed a lease for a 300 sq. ft. store that will open in December,” there is once again hope for the gossip magazine-weary wanderers of the Northeast Corridor.

Prior to closing its doors in April, Barbara’s Bestsellers had been a South Station institution, having quickly established itself as one of the most beloved booksellers in downtown Boston after the doors of its 417-sq. ft. shop opened in 1994. Despite the fact that stagnating in-store sales have forced many of Boston’s most highly-regarded independent bookstores to shut down in recent years, Barliant claims that “[Barbara’s] didn’t close after 20 years because it wasn’t selling books.” After-all, over its twenty-year run as the only bookseller in Boston’s main commuter-terminal, Barbara’s Bestsellers was highly-successful, providing students making the trek home for the holidays with reading material for their longer-than-advertised bus journeys.

While Barbara’s Bestsellers’ old location remains in the hands of the coffee-peddling behemoth, the store is set to open the doors to a new South Station store some time in December of this year. Though the new store will be considerably smaller than the old one, there is little doubt that the Barbara’s will continue to offer a wide-selection of new releases and classics.

And readers may not have to wait as long as December: Publisher’s Weekly reports that Barliant “plans to set up a book cart near where the bookstore will be located” in anticipation of the formal reopening.

Although it was sad to see Barbara’s close its doors, its return is a sight for eyes sore for those of us who found ourselves spending too many hours perusing racks of gossip magazines and tabloids or watching subpar sitcoms on Netflix and Hulu.


Michael Elmets is a former Melville House intern.