Westsider Books

WCBS 880

Community Saves Beloved Upper West Side Bookstore

January 21, 2019 - 12:39 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A bookstore on the Upper West Side that was in danger of closing will stay open thanks to help from the local community.

For 35 years, people have been walking into Westsider Books at 80th Street and Broadway to floor-to-ceiling reads as classical music hums in the background. 

“I would describe it as just a normal used bookstore from the 80s, or the 70s, or the 60s, or the 50s. Just not the noughties and beyond,” owner Dorian Thornley said.

A few weeks ago, Thornley, who has owned the store since 2002, learned he would have to close the store due to financial troubles.

"We weren't going to make it," he said. 

Amid the media coverage, a man who writes for the blog West Side Rag offered to start a GoFundMe campaign.

The store raised the $50,000 it needed for back rent in less than a week.

“I did not realize how much this place meant to the community,” Thornley said. “It was a shock to me. You know, you’re working; you’re helping people find books; you’re ringing them up on the cash register. They’re not telling you how much they love you.”

Selena, a customer, said she had no idea there were plans to close until her son told her.

“I just love coming here and finding books that I can’t find any place else,” she said.

Thornley says he plans to stay open indefinitely. He plans on throwing a party for all who donated to keep his bookstore going.