Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 5, 2014

No storybook ending

Phillips Academy ceases 200-year-old contract with Andover Bookstore

If Andover Bookstore can’t secure a break on its rent, the 205-year-old independent bookseller may be forced to close the chapter on its run in town.

Co-owner John Hugo said a decision by Phillips Academy to break with a two-century-old tradition and contract with an online vendor for its textbook sales has dealt a “devastating financial blow” to the bookstore.”

Andover Bookstore realized about 50 percent of its receipts from the sale of textbooks to Phillips’ students and faculty, said Hugo, who is slated to meet this Thursday with the landlord for Andover Village on Main Street to discuss a rent reduction.

“Without a rent change, we do not stay open. No business can lose half its sales and stay alive without massive change to rent and payroll,” Hugo said in an email this week.

Founded in 1809, Andover Bookstore was originally located on the Phillips Academy campus. It made its first move to Main Street in downtown Andover in the late 1860s and found its current home at 89 Main St. in 1963.

It has become the second oldest continuously running bookstore in the country, behind Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pa. And although Andover Bookstore has changed owners and locations throughout the years, it has always maintained its charm and close ties to the community, Hugo has said.

But Hugo, a 1998 alumnus of Phillips Academy whose father, Bob Hugo, bought Andover Bookstore in 1990, now says he is unsure the business can survive the elimination of textbook sales.

Andover Bookstore will continue to sell Phillips Academy gear and novelties — including sweatshirts, day planners and coffee mugs — but it will no longer be the book distributor for the private secondary school that sits just up the road, within walking distance of the downtown.

“This (textbook selling) was a 205-year-old tradition ... and we were just so surprised by this,” Hugo said in a recent email to customers that he also posted on the store website.

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