Inquirer staff writer Sam Wood reports:
Robin’s Book Store, a favorite haunt of the Philadelphia’s literati, announced last week that this will be its last holiday season. It will be closing up shop at the end of January.
Early this afternoon there were a handful of customers at the store. The customers appeared suprised at the store's demise.
The city’s oldest independent book seller, Robin’s has long hosted poetry readings and autograph signings at 108 S. 13th Street.
“Operating a book store was always a better hobby than a way to make a living, but now it’s impossible” writes Larry Robin in a news release. “Blame it on the Economy. Blame it on the Chain Stores. Blame it on the Internet. Blame it on Reading Habits.”
Robin’s grandfather, David, opened the original Robin’s 73 years ago on N. 11th Street.
The store has a storied history as a hotbed of controversy.
In 1961, then-Assistant District Attorney Arlen Specter and his boss, District Attorney James Crumlish, sought an injunction against Robin's for selling Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, which was denounced at the time as pornography.
Every bookstore in Philadelphia pulled the novel from its shelves - except Robin's. "We sold 7,000 copies in one week," Robin told Inquirer reporter Alfred Lubrano on the store's 70th Anniversary.. "We were fighting for basic free speech. "
Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the book was not obscene. From then on, Robin's was known as a kind of forbidden-fruit stand, a place where you could find savory items others lacked, and where people stood up for art and language.
Robin’s has put its entire stock on sale at 20 percent off, and will continue to reduce prices by 5 percent a week until January 5 when everything will be half-off.
Larry Robin will remain active in the literary world. He’s planning to open a Center City salon for book lovers and center for poetry on the renovated 2nd floor at 110 S. 13th.
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