Sunday, January 30, 2011

A bookmark from a late, great bookstore in Berkeley

I came across this wonderful bookmark tucked away inside a falling-apart old copy of Bulfinch's Mythology.

It's for Shambhala Booksellers in Berkeley, California.

Sadly, this bookstore is no more.

I found this bittersweet article from the December 2003 online edition of The Berkeley Daily Planet. An excerpt:

When Philip Barry told his son that Shambhala Booksellers had to close, his nine-year-old protested, “But Dad! I want to work there when I grow up!” The boy immediately made some bookmarks to sell to help the store make more money.

In spite of the dedication of the staff and appreciation of the community, Shambhala did indeed have a closing ceremony Nov. 26.

The founders, Sam Bercholz and Michael Fagan, both idealistic 20-year-olds when they started the business in a tiny side room of Moe’s Bookstore, were joined by current owner Philip Barry in saying farewell to this precious member of Berkeley’s bookselling community.

Was this one of the bookmarks that Philip Barry's son made in an attempt to save the family bookstore? The back of the orange bookmark provides some reading material on Shambhala -- its history and various meanings.

Shambhala Booksellers was a spiritual, new-age bookstore that made its mark for 35 years in the Berkeley community before closing its doors.

The 2003 article by the Daily Planet's Alta Gerrey laments the tough times descending upon independent bookstores: "As irreplaceable stores close, such as Shambhala Booksellers ... our access to information may continue on the Internet, but the serendipitous encounters that book lovers cherish are irretrievably lost."

I would love to be involved with an independent bookstore some day, but obviously there are tremendous challenges involved with that, at the forefront of which is the sea change in how we digest the written word and the place that printed material will in our culture and economy moving forward.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful find. I also just found an old bookmark from the store that must be even older since the spelling of "Shambala" is the older version without the "h". It has a beautiful graphic on the front and an interesting picture at the top on the back of four guys with their heads touching. Below is the quotation, "All Hail to the One Mind!".