March 6, 2011

Closing: Cover to Cover Books

We had hoped the recent tweets weren't true, but unfortunately they are. Cover to Cover is closing its doors for good today or tomorrow. The shelves are nearly bare, most of the kids' books are gone, and it's a sad day for the staff and customers at 1307 Castro St.

Cover to Cover has had it's share of closing scares before. During the dot com bust in June 2003, when the store was at 24th St. near Church (where Shoe Biz is today), a sign in the window read: "Now sadly, regretfully, we have to inform you that soon we will be closing our doors and saying goodbye to the neighborhood that has been so nurturing for so many years.... Times change, and you move on." The neighborhood rallied with a grassroots fund-raising campaign and the bookstore was saved, relocating to the current Castro St. spot. The Noe Valley Voice chronicles some of the bookstore's other moves and owners dating back to it's first incarnation in 1976 on Clement St.

Alas, this time it looks like Cover to Cover may be closing for good. Sad to see it go.

[Cover to Cover Booksellers]


JFelton said...

I know this won't go over very well. I like support my neighborhood businesses. But I am not surprised. Terrible store. Lame selection (unless you wanted picture books). I was always ignored when I walked in (fairly often). My questions were grudgingly answered by some person who knew absolutely nothing about the inventory or books and acted as if I was disturbing his nap. I was never asked if I would like to order a book that wasn't in stock. I get better customer service from Amazon.

Anonymous said...

thanks JFelton for those comments. I felt the same way when I would come in to the bookstore.

very aloof sales staff, not personal or helpful.

I dont play the standard Noe card of feeling so sorry for local business that fail. A business takes hard work and great customer service to survive.

They didnt have that and failed.

Mark said...

I don't believe I have ever met JFelton, so I can hardly comment on his / her post. I would be willing to bet that if s/he were to come in tomorrow, I still would not recognize the face. Unless you came in in the last couple weeks, JFelton,everything you've posted sounds like utter bs, and I should know because I'm the guy who worked there.

Anonymous said...

Wow! A wonderful person's dream dies after years of hard work and dedication. And all you can do is spit on him? Way to go. Speaks volumes of your character.

Personally, I'm devastated that the store had to close, and feel as though a dear friend has passed on. In the years I've visited Cover to Cover, the staff and owners have been above and beyond the normal range of helpful. Always knowing which wonderful book to suggest to my children as they've grown up.

When they didn't have a book, they'd call around to other stores to see if anyone else nearby had it.

When times got tough, they kept up as best they could. And as a sign of how much devotion they could inspire, only one staff member was paid (near the end). Friends would volunteer their time, to help out.

It's a tough time to be doing something worthwhile and positive. They should be celebrated, and cherished.

Mark said...

To the second "Anonymous," thank you. For the kind words and defense, you have my gratitude. You are the people of Noe Valley who made this the most wonderful and enjoyable time of my life. As long as we are remembered fondly, we didn't fail. If a love of books persists in your home and with your children, then we have been an unqualified success.

jfelton said...

Mark, thanks for making my point. No, you wouldn't recognize my face because you never looked up from whatever was it was that was more important to see if you could help me find something.

Anonymous said...

jfelton, all I can say is that you're timing is just off. And how 'bout you keep your negativity to yourself for a little bit.

To anyone who isn't feeling the economy, well, good for you. You're mighty lucky.

Cover to Cover was a wonderful bookstore, and a tough economy was too much for it to survive. How many kids in the neighborhood will look back on fond memories of a book store? Countless. That's a fine thing for any neighborhood to boast of.

Unknown said...

Mark (and Tracey),
I hope you're reading this. I came around this morning but you hadn't arrived yet and I wasn't around this evening.

You and Tracey were the first feeling of neighbourhood I ever experienced. I arrived from Ireland in July 2003 and the evening I came to view the apartment we still rent in Noe, I walked past your window and my heart broke to see all of the letters of support for such a cherished business fallen on hard times. The pictures of Tintin drawn by kids who'd found love in the store, the thanks for introductions to Asterix and The Phantom Tollbooth, the letters of support from people like Philip Pullman; the overwhelming feeling of impending loss. Then, when I brought the rest of the family over in August of that year, how happy I was to find that you'd survived.

I walked in your door and it was like I'd known you all my life. You gave us a home in Noe Valley and welcomed our kids as if they were your own. No order was too small to bring in, no favour too large to ask. Sharing your love of all books with us. Supporting local businesses when times were good for you like at a Potter launch, being generous to customers even when times were not. I'll never forget the time Cian fell asleep in front of the band during one of those parties, everytime we came inside it was like we were coming home.

No matter how busy, you'd always take the time to stop and make a recommendation when asked and make sure we were all doing well. Family coming from far and wide would always be shipped off to you and always return with warm hearts.

Your books warm our shelves, your friendship warms our hearts, you will be sadly missed. If there's ever anything I or this family can do you for you you need only ask.

Still yours, quartered safe out here, though somewhat lonelier,
Ross and all the O'Dwyers

Anonymous said...

jfelton---you are a real a**hole! and a rotten troll. Let us all know when you will be moving on, so we can be happy

Anonymous said...

Sad to see how heartless people can be.

JFelton and Anonymous #1, I'm sorry you never experienced what others clearly have.

This was a store run with love for a community for many years and today that community has lost a dear friend.

Spare a thought.

Mark said...

Thank you all for your kind words and support. You should all know, though, that I've spent over half my life (so far) doing something I love deeply. To be able to believe in a product and to offer it to people I genuinely enjoy...not many people can say that. I've met so many great folk, seen so many children grow from infancy to college and beyond. At the risk of sounding like Lou Gehrig, I'm an extraordinarily lucky man. I've extracted a lifetime of joy from two-plus decades of bookselling, and I've enjoyed the support of my wife and kids for all that time. Thank you all again, for everything. And as for felton, don't feed the trolls, okay?

Unknown said...

Mark, you rock! We love you!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this store had no chance given the amazon-izing of the world and the de-energized effort to keep it going.

Sadly, sadly, bookstores may be impossible even with the most energetic approach. See Bird & Beckett in Blen Park, surely a most lively operation, which reports (on its website/blog) a drop in February 0f almost 25% sales versus one year ago.

Gwen said...

I think it would really help Jfelton and others in the 'hood to have even the smallest understanding about how much territory a small business owner covers, and how much even one additional problem (which are created for the small business community almost constantly by government and other situations) can force you completely away from your job. It is a truly daunting prospect. Please at least talk with the business owner about your experience before boycotting or spreading negative opinions. Mark and Tracey shared their love and extensive knowledge of books with us and were a vibrant part of the Noe Valley community. Tracey you are missed. Mark we miss you already. Hope to see you both soon. Gwen - Video Wave

Anonymous said...

Geez Louise--This thread has me confused. Have the doors closed or are they still open; and, will there be an inventory liquidation?

Anonymous said...

How sad! I will really miss this store!

I admit that, due to the economy and just where I am in my personal life, I don't buy as many books there these days. My kids are grown now and I try to get most of my own books from the library. But, when I do buy a book, I always went there first.

Cover to Cover: you provided a great service and I'll miss you.

Anonymous said...

This is a great store and we'll miss it terribly. We have always enjoyed popping in, and we loved your beautiful children's book selection especially.

Anonymous said...

It's always interesting to see what ads pop up to the right of the item on this blog. On this very sad item, "Christian Books" and "Chrisian Studies" have bought there way to the top of this blog.
Too bad Cover to Cover didn't have a prayer. How much does NoeValleySF get for their Christian adverts.

murphstahoe said...

I'd open a snark store but I think everyone in Noe has plenty on hand. Too bad, my Wife would probably be happy if I were to sell some of mine for pennies on the dollar.

Anonymous said...

trouble is nobody would buy your bs..I mean snark.

in fact, some of us would pay you to shut up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for hanging the nursery school quilt in your window for so many years, even when we would show up and not really know what we were doing! Now, the nursery school has moved out, and so are you. Whole Foods is in. Noe Valley is getting to be a different place...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Noe Valley is evolving and constantly changing.

As a homeowner who has lived in NV now for 25 years, there is much good change to enjoy:

1. Beautiful renovation of the Day St. rec center, much used and loved by everyone.
2.Great improvements to Billygoat Hill.
3. Lots and lots of new trees and curbside plantings.
4. More seating areas along 24th St. benches and parklets.
5. The potential for a great new Noe Valley town square.
6. Yes, even Whole Foods that replaced an out of date store with mediocre products and people.
7. More retail and restaurant activity on outer Church St.
8. A brand new school that replaced the old ST. Pauls School.
9. Lots of new young families.
10. Lots of renovated houses and properties. People investing in NV.

The list goes on and on..and YES Noe Valley has changed.

If you just look around, you can see all the great, positive new changes.

You just have to think that way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making the neighborhood a better place. We will miss your store. Best of luck in your new venture.

Anonymous said...

Noe Valley still has three great independent book stores. Phoenix Books which moved a couple years ago to a much larger and well lit space, thus increasing their inventory of new and used stock, and our two great "niche" bookstores, San Francisco Mystery Book Store and Omnivore Books.

Mark said...

The remaining bookstores (mentioned above) are all highly recommended. I realize this is a Noe Valley story, but Valencia St also has some excellent places - Borderlands (Science Fiction & Fantasy) is utterly brilliant, Modern Times is more politically oriented and carries a good selection in Spanish, Dog Eared Books for used copies...All could use your patronage and all are deserving of it.

Britta said...

I will miss this store. I loved coming in here. I loved the fact that I could sit in the back and read my son a story on a rainy day. I loved that he could crawl in and out of the house/bookshelf while I browsed the new books, I loved that I could always count on great recommendations if I had no idea what I was looking for, and I loved all the local author events. And I will miss Mark. Never in-your-face, but always ready to help. Farewell.

Maria said...

I will SO miss my sweet neighborhood bookstore. Mark (and Tracey), you have have been great. At selling books, being a great neighborhood business and helping me sell and launch (ah, he parties!) my books.
You will be missed. I wish you the best. Maria van Lieshout

MaxxSlaxx said...

Losing Cover to Cover is like losing a family friend. In fact, the folks who worked there WERE family friends.

Over the years, we've had our ups and downs,but the store and the commitment of the staff could not be questioned. If anyone thought Mark was gruff, you missed the twinkle of mischief in his eye. The droll humor, the painful puns and the whimsical sensibility of the store made it a fun place to drop by, even when not shopping for books.

eBooks are taking a larger share of the book market every month. Alas, one cannot wander through the shelves of an eBookstore. There is no banter, no one who really understands your tastes and sensibilities ( the algorithms try, but they just don't compare.)

Good luck and thanks to all who made Cover to Cover a wonderful neighborhood institution for more than twenty years.

Anonymous said...

I've moved to the Davis area in the last few months but have been keeping track of the old neighborhood through this blog. I am SO sorry to hear that Cover to Cover will be closing! I remember the store and staff fondly--many years of our nursery school having our quilt in the window, the move to the new site...the neighborhood won't be the same without out. Know that you were loved and did a wonderful job.