the covid recession kills a great bookstore: university press books in berkeley

One of the great pleasures of the 2010s was the discovery that the independent bookstore business was still viable, if challenging. Sadly, COVID not only wrecks lives, but it is also destroys businesses. University Press Books, in business for over 40 years, finally gave in as COVID removed all the foot traffic, which was vital to a small business located across the street from the UC Berkeley campus. The $10k/month rent was simply too much of an obstacle during normal times, impossible during a recession.

Personal memory: One of the reasons I loved Berkeley as a city was its abundance of actual physical places for culture – obscure music spaces, cool record stores, and, of course, Berkeley’s truly majestic bookstores. On this blog, I reported on the closing of Cody’s Books a while back and Moe’s used book store is so epic that it even garnered it’s own issue of the famed Cometbus zine. UPB was relatively small in square footage but it maximized it’s rarefied air – it stocked mainly super hip, super cool university press monographs and it was next to a classical music cafe. When I was first accepted to Chicago’s PhD program in sociology, I went to the sociology section, which was on a small mezzanine overlooking the rest of the shop, and bought a copy of Coleman’s Foundations of Social Theory. I still have that memory and it’s a good one.

Slowly, the eco-system of cultural businesses in Berkeley is eroding. The book stores have faded – Cody’s, Black Oaks, UPB – and the music shops have also shut. But hope lasts, UPB has said that they plan to reopen somewhere in the East Bay in a year and will continue online. No replacement for being at the hub, but I do wish them the best and I hope to purchase more sociology texts at their future location.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

June 18, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Posted in uncategorized

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oh no! That’s terrible.


    Jacob T. Levy (@jtlevy)

    June 18, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: