Sadness as renowned New York travel bookstore closes today

Book browsing

Book browsing. Image by Laura D'Alessandro / CC BY 2.0

A little bit of history ends today with the closure of a famous New York travel bookstore.

After over 30 years in business, the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore on Madison Avenue at 35th Street is closing its doors for the last time this evening.

Its loss will be felt by tourists and locals alike as it means there will be one less place to browse in the company of a rare and antique travel collection.

Despite the sadness of its passing, there is a genuine reason for the closure though, the New York Times reports. The owner, Harriet Greenberg (75), explains: “It was just time. We are not kids anymore.”

Mrs Greenberg, and her 82-year-old husband, Arnold, have been running the bookshop since 1984, when they bought out an original partner. As travel writers themselves, the couple saw the ownership of the store as a real way in which they could indulge their passions.

Such was their attraction in the area that they were able to survive the arrival of chain bookstores and also prosper despite the on-line era’s arrival

The closure is down to getting old with Mrs Greenberg revealing that her husband had been feeling unwell of late. The couple decided enough was enough and they will now spend more time with their children.

The store will be open all day today and then the movers will come to pack up the collection of mainly vintage books. They will be sold online.

Store Manager Mike Durell, (53), said that the place had been a refuge for a certain type of discerning reader and traveller.

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan fell from 150 to 106..

Mrs. Greenberg said that her store had felt pressure over the years, particularly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001. “People were afraid to travel,” Mrs. Greenberg said.

It was then, she explained, that they moved away from selling modern travel guides and focused almost exclusively on vintage and antique travel books.

Related content