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Coliseum Books Is Closing, and R.I.P., R.W. Apple

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , , , ,

I saw the news on my RSS feed last night but blocked out the doleful knowledge till now. It was my first New York bookstore—back then, it was across the street from my first New York job, fall semester of my freshman year, working (in a very roundabout way, believe me) for Sting, Trudie Styler, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, and the doomed Michael Hutchence, whom I saw in the elevator. (This is also the location of my first New York celebrity street sighting, and luckily for my enthusiasms at the time it was Paul Shaffer, who was a gent.) I’d go to Coliseum every lunch hour and after work, sometimes taking a side trip to Lee’s Art Shop on 57th St. and a peek at the longhairs who were always lounging on the steps of the Art Students League, sometimes petting the horses at Columbus Circle. Coliseum was the sturdy ship that was always in the harbor. It was depended upon. Then it closed. Then, miraculously, it resurfaced on 42nd St., where Condé Nast people and Nortonites and others frequented it and its superlative cafe.

So what happened? I know this is Barnes & Noble’s fault. I always meant to bring that place down. Perhaps it’s time to renew my efforts. Jurgen Habermas my elbow. Coliseum’s founder George S. Leibson blames Amazon in part, and that’s probably justified, too. Note that many of the links on Emdashes are to Powell’s Books and, when things are out of print, Alibris; I almost always buy books new when I know the writers need the money, which most writers do. Leibson says, and what a sad statement, “I believe we will simply disappear.” It’s more like the Simon & Garfunkel line, Coliseum; our love for you’s so overpowering I’m afraid that we will disappear.

In other news of life cycles coming to a close, the longtime Timesman R.W. Apple has died. From the NYT:
“I used to say that Johnny grew into the person he was pretending to be when we were young,” Joseph Lelyveld, a contemporary who rose to become The Times’s executive editor, told the writer Calvin Trillin in a 2003 profile of Mr. Apple in The New Yorker. “Now I wonder whether he actually was that person then, and the rest of us didn’t know enough to realize it.”
The New Yorker website now has this up: Calvin Trillin’s 2003 Profile of Apple, “Newshound: The triumphs, travels, and movable feasts of R. W. Apple, Jr.”


Wait, I’ve been in there a zillion times to buy dictionaries (for some reason I made Coliseum my reference book store — the only fiction I ever bought there was Chandler’s “Farewell, My Lovely,” my favorite), and never noticed there was a café!!!!

I guess I better hustle on over there and try it out before it’s gone!

Ever the NY opportunist, in spite of my chagrin, I wonder if they’ll have a close-out sale!

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