You Want To Own a Bookstore?
operate a bookstore] you must love reading books...and you must
enjoy talking about books to other people," says Harris Healy
III, the President of Logos, a pleasantly relaxing bookstore on
a shady York Avenue block on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Logos,
like its owner, dares to be different.
kind of an American expatriate living in America," Healy
says. "What I mean is, I live kind of an overseas existence
right here in New York. At least once a week I see a French movie.
And, on television, I find myself drawn much more to the British
shows than to the rote Hollywood product."
Yet, Healy is profoundly steeped in American culture as well.
He has to be. He says, "in order to be successful book-store
manager, you must keep up with what interests people, and be curious
about - and really interested in - what they want." At the
same time, Healy feels that his responsibility goes beyond that.
also have to do your best to educate, to get people beyond the
hype," he said. "Running a bookstore you really have
a chance to impact on peoples' tastes, to get them to read books
of quality that may be different, that might be outside of the
ordinary group of extremely popular books everyone wants to read
at certain times."
Healy has that chance because Logos is a medium sized neighborhood
bookstore that is surviving in an age when huge conglomerates
are nearly taking over the bookselling-market.
Although Healy was interested in the business of books and publishing
since his school days, he began his job at Logos almost by accident.
was Director of Marketing of the Brooklyn Opera Society," he says.
"And when, in the mid 1980s, the owner decided that there was
no real future for a small non-profit opera company in Brooklyn,
I applied for a part-time salesclerk job at Logos."
Healy enjoyed doing sales and interacting with the customers so
much that, moving up on the corporate ladder with the speed of
lightning, he became manager by 1990, and President and principal
shareholder in 1991. "It satisfied my need to serve, to widen
peoples' horizons," he says. "I wanted to expose people to a different
type of literature. I wanted to show them that it's okay to be
yourself, to dare to be different, to avoid the hype."
Originally, Healy wanted to serve in the ministry. He attended
elementary school in New York and France and studied history and
romance languages at Hamilton College in upstate New York. After
graduating from Hamilton he attended the Drew Theological School
in Madison New Jersey "for both spiritual reasons and for a basic
conversion to the Christian thought," he says. After changing
life-course, he now has Logos specialize in religious literature
course, we serve the general market as well," says Healy. "And
our other specialty, children's books, recognizes the foremost
need of the neighborhood."
Indeed, Logos, which in Greek means "The Word," does much to be
a signal part of the community, using its picturesque back garden
to host everything from community meetings, to summer parties,
to theater and comedy performances, to staged readings by well-known
also have a monthly book club-we call it the Kill-Your-TV Reading
Club ˝that people really seem to enjoy," says Healy. "Probably
because it's very democratic both in its choice of books and in
And, what is his advice to prospective young bookstore owners?
"Love books," Healy smiles. "Enjoy talking to people. Learn to
really listen. Then learn the business side. Be aware of what's
going on in the culture. Yet know how to separate real value from
don't ever think that this will be a profession where you can
relax, sit, and read books during business hours," concludes
Healy. "If anywhere, you'll be doing your reading at home.
Running a bookstore is more than a fulltime job."#
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