Andover Bookstore turns 210-years-old this year, making it the oldest independent bookstore in the country.

After many years of being no. 2 on that list, the former no. 1 on the list, which is located in Pennsylvania, is now managed by Barnes & Noble, so its independent label has been permanently checked out.

"Yes, it's true," Andover Bookstore  owner John Hugo wrote in an email to the Townsman. "Yes, I think it is good news. We are working on a new strategy to add it to our marketing."

The Moravian Book Shop in historic Bethlehem, Penn., has reigned for years as the oldest continuously operating independent bookstore in the country. It was founded in 1745. Andover Bookstore was founded in 1809 - 64 years later - and the same year that President Abraham Lincoln was born.

The 15,000-square-foot Moravian Book Shop is used often by college students and staff at nearby Moravian College. The shop is now under the management of Barnes & Noble, and is currently closed as it's undergoing a big renovation. 

"We look forward to seeing it thrive and continue to serve the Bethlehem community for the next 273 years," Moravian College President Bryon Grigsby said in a local newspaper story last October about the Barnes & Noble takeover.

Those renovations include a new lounge area, food and beverage options, and interior and exterior aesthetics, including enlarged vintage maps of the college’s campuses on the walls and should be complete by the end of the year.

Hugo was not surprised to learn of Moravian's latest chapter that now includes Barnes & Noble management as the independent bookstore business is tough, he said. The Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon are huge competitors for independent bookstores.

"It's a tough business in the face of the ever growing 'big river' of brown boxes bombarding people's homes. I'm hopeful we can continue to stay relevant and make a living," he said.

Andover Bookstore is located at 77 Main St. after several years of being located at 89R Main St. in Andover. Hugo misses the former location but that building has been demolished to make way for a new restaurant set to open in April.

"I still miss the old space and the fireplace - we have a great fireplace in our new space but current landlords aren't allowing a wood or gas fireplace at the moment. I keep trying," Hugo wrote. "This was the only move possible as the coming restaurant attests to, but that's life." 


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