Linden Tree Books co-owners Dianne Edmonds and Jill Curcio have been working to sell their shop for approximately a year, with a focus on finding a buyer committed to preserving the atmosphere that has attracted area residents of all ages for more than 40 years. Now, they’re inviting the store lovers themselves to be part of the conversation.
Edmonds and Curcio placed an advertisement in the May 8 Town Crier with an intriguing banner: “What is the next chapter for Linden Tree Books and what does it look like?” These are questions the business partners have been asking themselves since early 2018.
“At the beginning of 2018, we started discussing our transition plans,” Edmonds and Curcio said in a joint email response to the Town Crier. “Things we took into account were the timing of the lease renewal, the purchasing cycle of books within the publishing industry, the economy and the least disruptive time for a transition.”
The owners organized two information and Q&A sessions, including one today, to discuss options that could curtail a permanent shutdown. That’s what could happen if no clear new ownership possibilities emerge by June 30, Edmonds and Curcio said in the ad.
Plan of action
It isn’t just a plan the nine-year guardians of 256 State St. want, but a plan of action.
They know what they’re up against in terms of the trade, as well as the added onus of the accelerated cost of living in Silicon Valley.
“The publishing industry is feeling the pinch up and down the operational ladder from acquiring an author to final distribution,” Edmonds and Curcio said in their email. “We know from national data collected from the American Booksellers Association that we have the highest occupancy costs and wages as compared to the rest of the nation.”
One of Linden Tree Books’ biggest challenges in working to remain a self-sustaining shop is working on a fixed margin, an obstacle underscored in the May 8 ad.
Beyond what one can and cannot do in the brick-and-mortar bookselling world – such as marking up a price to cover increased expenses – lies virtual competitors like Amazon.
“We also have the harsh reality that independent bookstores cannot afford to mark the price down to compete with online retailers because we don’t have the sales volume to compensate for the lower sales price and increased expenses,” the business partners told the Town Crier.
Looking to the future
While the co-owners have no future plans for themselves individually, they know it’s time to move on and let Linden Tree Books move into the next phase of its shelf-life.
“We bought the store in 2010 and our goal from the beginning was to rebuild Linden Tree into a sustainable business model,” Edmonds and Curcio wrote via email. “We’ve achieved everything we set out to do and feel it’s time now to hand to others with new eyes and new goals.”
Although the downtown merchants have talked to many interested parties, both those inquiring about ownership and those offering well wishes for the future, their favorite part of the process has been hearing each visitor’s own individual “Linden Tree story.”
“We are on our second, and even third, generation of customers coming into the store,” Edmonds and Curcio said in their email. “Everyone seems to have a Linden Tree story, whether it be when (the original owners) the Ronbergs were on Main Street or a special concert in the courtyard of the old building, or meeting a best-selling author at our current site or at their school. … To this day, we hear over and over again, ‘Thank you for keeping Linden Tree alive.’ Now we hear, ‘Please don’t close.’”
Today’s session is scheduled 7 p.m. at Linden Tree Books. To RSVP, email