HBS In The News
Harvard Book Store
  • Since e-books and e-readers began gaining in popularity, our customers have asked how independent bookstores fit into this new world. We know our customers love physical books (glossy photography books; signed first-edition novels; letter-press editions; the sand-between-the-pages feel of a mass market paperback at the beach), but for many people, e-readers can be a practical addition to a literary life. Now, thanks to a partnership between the American Booksellers Association (the trade association for independent bookstores) and Kobo, we finally have a great answer.

    Why Kobo?
    Kobo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-reading services, with millions of readers from more than 170 countries.

    Kobo has a world-class e-book catalog with over three million titles, including award winners, bestsellers, Indie Next List picks, free public-domain titles, and other recommendations. Prices are competitive with other e-book sellers.

    We are proud to offer two Kobo devices: the Kobo Glo and the Kobo Mini. These devices offer a competitive e-reading experience, with storage of up to 1,000 books, battery life of up to one month, built-in Wi-Fi, a no-glare E-Ink screen, and (in the case of the Kobo Glo) a ComfortLight adjustable front-light.

    You can read Kobo e-books on many smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and on your desk- top through the free Kobo app (iPad/iPhone/ iPod and Android devices) or using Adobe Digital Editions software (Nook, Sony Reader, and other E-Ink devices). And if you’re using the Kobo app, your library will automatically sync across all your devices.

    Customer Service
    Kobo offers first-rate customer support for e-readers and e-books from 8am to midnight (ET) every day. Just e-mail help@kobobooks.com or call 855-202-4098.

    Shopping Indie
    To purchase e-books from us, just set up your Kobo account here or through any Kobo e-reader purchased at Harvard Book Store. Kobo is the best way to support your local, independent bookstore and to fulfill all your e-reading needs.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Do I Get Started?

    1. Set up your Kobo account at kobobooks.com, or via your Kobo Mini or Glo eReader bought from our store.

    2. Login to kobobooks.com with your new account to browse, search for, and buy eBooks.

    3. Start reading! Download a free Kobo reading App here to read on your smartphone, computer, or tablet. (You can also purchase eBooks through the app. Sign into the app with your new Kobo account and continue to support this store. We sure do appreciate it!)

    How many e-books are available in the Kobo catalog?
    The Kobo catalog currently has over three million e-books and they are constantly updating their library and adding new releases. Newspapers and magazines are also available for purchase in the Kobo Store.

    What if I already own a Kobo e-reader or have a Kobo account? Can I still buy e-books through Harvard Book Store?
    Yes. You will need to establish a new Kobo account here. Then, when you next use your device, sign out of the old account and sign in using the new account name. You can then search and buy e-books either through the device or through the web.

    Can I use my Frequent Buyer Card for Kobo purchases?
    Your purchase of a Kobo e-reader and any accessories will add to your Frequent Buyer Card balance. We don’t currently have a way to add e-book purchases to your Frequent Buyer Card balance, but we are working on a solution. We will not be able to discount e-readers or e-books.

    What about the Google e-books I already purchased from Harvard Book Store?
    For any Google e-books you have already purchased from Harvard Book Store, you will continue to be able to access them via your Google account. You’ll be able to access them on your desk- top or e-reader exactly as you always have. The only exception is the IndieBound Reader app, which was designed specifically to interface with Google e-books and will no longer be sup- ported after January 2013. And if you purchase a new Kobo Glo or Kobo Mini, you will be able to load your Google e-books onto it using Adobe Digital Editions software. Visit harvardsquarebookstore.com for more information.

    Other questions?
    For questions about Harvard Book Store and Kobo, ask a bookseller, visit harvardsquarebookstore.com, or e-mail kobo@harvardsquarebookstore.com. For Kobo e-reader or e-book customer support, e-mail help@kobobooks.com or call 855-202-4098 from 8am to midnight (ET).

    Kobo e-readers

  • As Rachel noted in a recent newsletter, we just completed our best holiday season in quite some time. The volume of business happily surprised us after years of challenge. Despite this unanticipated demand, our amazing staff rose to the occasion, the publishers supplied us with the books we needed, and our customers showered us with much appreciated holiday cheer. We are very thankful as we head into 2012.

    A number of you have asked me why sales were so good this year. Theories abound: the Borders bankruptcy, good weather, and great new titles. Maybe even Occupy Harvard and the closing of Harvard Yard, which forced tourists to change their plans and visit local businesses. My guess is that all of these factors played a role, however small. Still, independent booksellers around the country are reporting similar results, even where the weather did not cooperate or there wasn't a shuttered Borders.

    One thing that we all observed was how often customers told us they were choosing to shop with us to support an independent bookstore and local business. While we often receive comments like these, the staff was struck by their frequency and the apparent conviction behind them.

    This growing awareness of the importance of shopping local was probably also encouraged by an unfortunate marketing campaign by our biggest competitor, Amazon. I encourage you to read Richard Russo's wonderful piece, "Amazon's Jungle Logic" in the New York Times (December 12), listen to Robin Young's "Here and Now" (December 15), or read this blog post  by an editor of Harvard Business Review. What emerges is a picture of a predatory corporation, willfully damaging local communities and abusing their employees in support of a supposedly "efficient" business model.

    We know that we have to constantly strive to deserve your patronage. Our ultimate goal is to be able to provide any book ever written, faster than any competitor. We have already taken substantial steps to implement this strategy: a new harvardsquarebookstore.com, a bicycle delivery service, and a book-making robot. I am pleased to report the latest development toward realizing our vision: an agreement with HarperCollins, under which our robot will be able to print thousands of recent works. The list includes books from such writers as Russell Banks, Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Agatha Christie, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Dennis Lehane, Ann Patchett, Richard Wright, and Howard Zinn, among many others

    For those of you who also read e-books, most titles are now available through our enhanced website. In partnership with the American Booksellers Association, we also now provide an app (available on both Android and iOS), through which you can purchase and read e-books, while supporting your independent bookstore.

    It is clear that the rumors of the demise of independent bookstores have been greatly exaggerated. Entrepreneurs continue to enter the industry, reimagining how the printed word is distributed to passionate readers. It has been an exciting year, but we promise you that the coming year will be even more exciting. Thanks again for your patronage and support and we look forward to seeing you in the store.

    Harvard Book Store
    Jeff Mayersohn
    Harvard Book Store

    Indieboud Reader for Android and iOS

  • Cambridge, MA, January 12, 2012—As of this week, Harvard Book Store is excited to announce a new partnership with publisher HarperCollins, which will allow the independent Harvard Square bookseller to print and sell thousands of titles from HarperCollins’s extensive backlist.

    HarperCollins’s new “Comprehensive Backlist Program” will allow bookstores to promote and sell the publisher’s backlist through a combination of traditional stock on the store’s shelves and, when a book is out of stock, a new print-to-order option utilizing the Espresso Book Machine. The paperbacks produced by the book machine, which is located on the store’s sales floor, are indistinguishable from other paperback books. Featuring a full-color cover and black & white interior, a 300-page book can be printed, bound, and trimmed in roughly four minutes.

    Until now, the machine’s database has mostly comprised out-of-print and public domain titles scanned by Google as part of the Google Books project. The new partnership with HarperCollins is an important first step toward expanding the database to include more recent fare. Authors represented in the HarperCollins backlist include Russell Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin, Louise Erdrich, Dennis Lehane, Doris Lessing, Agatha Christie, and Ray Bradbury.

    On January 12th, Harvard Book Store will join with eight other independent bookstores to launch the “Comprehensive Backlist Program,” including a ceremonial first printing. At 1pm EST, each of the nine bookstores will print a first official copy of Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett.

    Founded in 1932, Harvard Book Store is an independently owned and run bookstore serving the greater Cambridge area. For more information, please visit www.harvardsquarebookstore.com.

    HarperCollins, one of the largest English-language publishers in the world, is a subsidiary of News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups around the world including the HarperCollins General Books Group, HarperCollins Children’s Books Group, Zondervan, HarperCollins UK, HarperCollins Canada, HarperCollins Australia/New Zealand and HarperCollins India. HarperCollins is a broad-based publisher with strengths in literary and commercial fiction, business books, children's books, cookbooks, mystery, romance, reference, religious and spiritual books. With nearly 200 years of history HarperCollins has published some of the world's foremost authors and has won numerous awards including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott. Consistently at the forefront of innovation and technological advancement HarperCollins is the first publisher to digitize its content and create a global digital warehouse to protect the rights of its authors, meet consumer demand and generate additional business opportunities.

    Harper Collins partnership

    Meet Paige

    Ann Patchett's Truth & Beauty, printed here at Harvard Book Store!

  • Cambridge, MA, September 17, 2009—Starting this fall, Harvard Book Store booksellers will not only be able to help you find a book in the store—they’ll be able to make you one as well.

    That’s because, on September 29th , the independent Harvard Square bookseller will unveil, on its premises, a new Espresso Book Machine?, enabling the store to produce books locally, and ship them globally. The Espresso Book Machine? is a twenty-first- century printing press that can produce library-quality, perfect bound paperback editions from a virtually limitless inventory of digital titles in multiple languages, including rare and out-of-print public domain titles.

    This month, Google and On Demand Books, LLC, the maker of the Espresso Book Machine?, signed an agreement to offer its patrons immediate access to over 2 million public-domain titles in the Google digital files. This unprecedented number of reading options is in addition to the current 1.6 million titles available directly to Harvard Book Store via the book machine’s catalog and the million titles already available through the store.

    On September 29th , Harvard Book Store will publicly unveil the new machine in an event featuring owner Jeffrey Mayersohn, On Demand Books founders Jason Epstein and Dane Neller, and the distinguished, award-winning author, E.L. Doctorow.

    “My vision is to provide our customers with any book ever written, in any format, and have it either in your hands or at your doorstep—the same day,” said Harvard Book Store’s owner, Jeffrey Mayersohn. “This collaboration between Google, On Demand Books, and Harvard Book Store is a major step toward realizing that vision.”

    All in all, Harvard Book Store’s book machine revolutionizes the traditional book- making and -delivery system, and the community bookstore will operate as a fast and affordable distribution point for millions of titles. Local customers will be able to receive books same- or next-day, via the store’s bicycle delivery program. The store also ships books both domestically and overseas.

    The paperbacks produced by the book machine are indistinguishable from paperback books produced by major publishing houses. Featuring a full-color cover and black & white interior, a 300-page book can be printed, bound, and trimmed in roughly 4 minutes. The book machine also represents a unique opportunity for authors wanting to see their work in book form.

    Information about Harvard Book Store’s book machine and the machine’s unveiling may be found at www.harvardsquarebookstore.com/bookmachine. In the coming weeks, self-publishing guidelines and available title information will be made available.

    Harvard Book Store is an independently run bookstore serving the greater Cambridge area. The independent Cambridge bookseller, located in Harvard Square, has been locally owned since 1932 and, since the fall of 2008, has been under new local ownership. For more information, please visit www.harvardsquarebookstore.com.

    On Demand Books was co-founded in 2003 by Jason Epstein, former Editorial Director of Random House and Dane Neller, former CEO of Dean & DeLuca. The Espresso Book Machine? was named to Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2007” list. Made in the USA, Espresso Book Machines? are environmentally friendly green machines. For more information go to www.ondemandbooks.com.

    Heather Gain
    Marketing Manager
    Harvard Book Store

  • Buy Green. Buy Local. By Bike.
    A new way to get your books
    faster, cheaper, and greener.



    Harvard Book Store is oh so pleased to announce its super speedy, environmentally responsible, and inexpensive delivery service to the Boston area.

    In partnership with MetroPed, “Boston’s human-powered delivery service,” Harvard Book Store will now deliver all local orders for as little as $5, six days a week, using emissions-free vehicles. And all in-stock orders placed for Cambridge and parts of Somerville and Allston will receive same- or next-day delivery.
    All deliveries for the surrounding Boston area will also be shipped through our Green Delivery Service, with arrival in one to three business days.

    All deliveries cost $5 for the first item, and $1 for each additional item.

    three ways to order:

    *Orders for goods not in stock are subject to availability.
    ETAs for these deliveries will be quoted on an individual basis.

    Zip codes eligible for same or next day Green Delivery:
    02134, 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142, 02143, 02144, and 02163.

    Zip codes eligible for 1-3 day Green Delivery:
    02129, 02472, 02145, 02113, 02108, 02109, 02110, 02111, 02112, 02114, 02115, 02116, 02210, 02203, 02199, 02118, 02119, 02120, 02215, 02127, 02130, 02446, and 02135.

    Metro Pedal Power, aka MetroPed (and formerly New Amsterdam Project), is Boston's “human powered delivery service.” An alternative to fossil-fuel based transportation, MetroPed offers healthy, sustainable delivery solutions for small businesses, large corporations, organizations, and universities. “We are replacing internal combustion vehicles with our unique pedal-powered vans to help create stronger, more resilient, and self-reliant local communities.”

  • Cambridge, MA, October 1, 2008After forty-six years as the owner of Harvard Square’s landmark independent bookstore, Frank Kramer is handing over the keys. As of today, Jeff Mayersohn and Linda Seamonson of Wellesley, Mass., are the new owners of Harvard Book Store. Mr. Mayersohn will serve as president of the company.

    On May 27, 2008, Frank Kramer announced that he was putting Harvard Book Store up for sale. In his announcement, Frank underlined his commitment to maintaining Harvard Book Store as the vibrant independent bookstore it has been for over seventy-five years. Frank asserted his dedication to finding a new owner who knows and loves the store for what it has been—and who has a vision for the future that honors the store’s unique history.

    Yesterday, Frank Kramer and Jeff Mayersohn completed the sale, two months in the making. Of the closing, Frank noted: “I couldn’t be more thrilled. Jeff is both a book lover and a businessman who has a tangible affection for Harvard Book Store. When I met him, I liked him immediately. And when I found out that he and his family plan their vacations around the locations of great independent bookstores, I liked him even more.”

    Jeff Mayersohn was equally effusive: “As a customer of Harvard Book Store for over thirty years, I’m overwhelmed and elated by this opportunity. My wife and I have wanted to own a bookstore for many years—I never imagined that it could be Harvard Book Store.”

    Mr. Mayersohn takes over ownership of the company effective immediately. Over the next few months, Frank Kramer will act as a consultant for the company. Carole Horne, who has been with Harvard Book Store for over thirty-five years, maintains her role as General Manager alongside the company’s committed management team. Ms. Horne is enthusiastic about the transition: “Frank said he wouldn’t sell the store unless he found just the right person, and I think he has. I’m very happy for Frank, and I am excited about working with Jeff.”

    Self-described as politically progressive and an avid baseball fan, Mr. Mayersohn is pleased to continue running Harvard Book Store as the community’s locally owned and independent bookstore. He is also interested in bringing his technological experience to the store. “I understand that Harvard Book Store was one of the first independents to adopt inventory-control software, in the 1980s. I’d like to find new ways to continue the store’s tradition of being on the leading edge of bookselling.”

    Mr. Mayersohn has attended the bookselling school for prospective booksellers, sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, as well as several national book industry conventions and the New England Independent Bookseller Association’s regional conference.

    Originally from New York City, Jeff Mayersohn has been a resident of New England for nearly four decades. He graduated from Harvard College in 1973 and received an M.Phil. in physics from Yale in 1977. He has worked at several high-tech companies in the region, including internet pioneer Bolt, Beranek and Newman. For the last ten years, Mr. Mayersohn has been an executive at Sonus Networks, a market leader in IP communications infrastructure. Mr. Mayersohn and Ms. Seamonson are married and have three children: Andrew, a sophomore at Yale, and Rebecca and Anna, who attend the Wellesley public schools.

    Mr. Mayersohn is a passionate reader across many genres, with a large personal book collection. Mr. Mayersohn and Ms. Seamonson contribute to many worthy causes, including a scholarship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and their other alma maters, Yale and the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Mayersohn’s mother, Nettie Mayersohn, is a member of the New York State legislature and is running for re-election this year.

    Harvard Book Store is pleased to host a special event on Tuesday, October 21, inviting the community to meet Jeff and learn about his history and love of Harvard Book Store.

    After forty-six years as owner and president of Harvard Book Store, Frank Kramer looks forward to new endeavors. He plans to spend more time working on the development and growth of Cambridge Local First, a shop-local campaign he co-founded in 2005. Frank will also function as an industry consultant, and would like to learn Italian in his spare time.

    * * *

    Harvard Book Store has been a literary destination in Harvard Square for over seventy-five years, founded in 1932 by Boston native Mark Kramer. Then, as now, Harvard Square was a magnet for students, cultural enthusiasts, and intellectuals. Mark chose to start his bookstore at the center of this vibrant community. Two years later, Pauline Kramer, Mark’s new wife, joined him in running the small bookstore. In 1962, at the time of Mark’s death, his son Frank Kramer took over the family business and actively directed the company’s activities for forty-six years.

    The theme of quality bookselling expressed through a broad inventory and personal service was established early by the Kramers, and it remains the primary goal of the company. Today, the expanded bookstore is a Harvard Square landmark and a destination for visitors from all over the world, providing a comprehensive and provocative selection of new, used, and bargain books.