The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Robin's Bookstore - Philadelphia, PA

We just found out yesterday that Robin's Bookstore ( will be closing. There have been some rocky moments in Robin's history, but they've always managed to bounce back. I'm not sure what the nail in the coffin was, it could have been many nails really. All the same, we're sorry to see it go, or change (into a cultural salon/performance and discussion space) as the case may be.

Steve first became acquainted with Larry Robin in 2002 and soon after took up the poetry reading torch and carried it for 2 years or so. The eternal NOW poetry series introduced us to a lot of poets, some of whom we've published and some of whom have remained good friends. Robin's was a bookstore like none I have met. Yes, met. It wasn't just a place but a real sort of presence. The whole store was very worn in, the kind of cozy space that corporate bookstores try to emulate with varying degrees of failure.

Robin's Bookstore stocked chapbooks- a blessing for us; and one of the only stores that do. Robin's also had specialities, depending on Larry's interests: his African American section and Charles Bukowski corner were a strength. His fiction selection was interesting and independent. I also liked his kids' section for its variety and highlighted books. It was a small space, but he did alot with it.

Since Larry was extremely socially active, his events tended to be varied and interesting. Every night was something else and he was welcoming to new ideas. He started programs like Poetry Ink, the 100 Poets Reading, and the Black Writers Series that made a real impact on peoples' lives. His store was a Philadelphia institution. It was a given that we would probably see someone we knew when we stopped in. Sometimes Larry would be there and we would either chat in his office or go out for a cup of coffee or gelato.

There were odd moments too, don't get me wrong. At poetry readings the mic system would occasionally pick up WYSP radio. Larry had dogs where he lived above the store, and they would sometimes run from one end of the room to the next sounding like thunder over our heads. There were staffing problems too from time to time. And our books would get lost for months, then found again, so our inventory fluxed wildly for a while. It was an experience doing business with Larry.

Being away from Philadelphia, we miss quite alot as it happens, only finding out about things after the fact. I'm sure we will make a trek to see Larry before the store closes. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by and absorb what you can while it's still here. You won't meet another bookstore quite like that again. (visit Robin's Bookstore: 108 South 13th Street, between Sansom and Chestnut Streets)

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