When in July 2011, the Borders book franchise broke down and closed its shops across the country leaving entire buildings deserted, everyone said in a panic: “Nobody is buying any books anymore – the whole country is going online!” This was said and always will be said in times of a media revolution.
But those who have studied and know the history of the media a bit better, know that media never dies, only: its center of gravity gets shifted – sometimes with a lesser and sometimes with a stronger impact as the anecdote of the Border’s shop reveals. After all, we humans do no longer rely on the messages conveyed via cave paintings, yet, this does not mean, that an artist cannot create images and send messages via a corner stone into the world: today, everything is possible!!
The same kind of philosophy seems to be represented by the owners of ‘Century Books’, a new bookshop which opened on Green Street only nine months after the crash of their bigger business brother, Borders. Istvan and Judith Marosvolgyi, a beautiful Hungarian couple, share a passion for books which they have made their business by selling used and new books in their shop.
What is the worth of a book when the market just broke down and thousands of copies are still being printed? “It depends”, says Judith Marosvolgyi as she discusses the recent crash with me. “Some books are really rare, so those are sold a bit above the original market value and it also depends on how we find them. She points out a Spanish copy of the Congress of Panama from 1826, a rare find which she is particularly proud of. Other books are just printed copies that can be found anywhere. “If you are lucky, you can find it here at a used book value without paying the postage that you would be charged if you got it through Ebay. And you can look at it,” Judith explains, reminding me of the magic moment when I touched the cover of an Everyman’s translation of Voltaire’s ‘Candide’, my favorite story.
Judith and Steve Marosvolgyi have been collecting books for decades and they have their own special sources. Some of them are donations, some of them come from closed down libraries, and some originate from Estate Sales. But the sources are innumerable.
When I ask her if they were happy when they heard about the Border’s crash, Judith shakes her head . “We are book lovers. It will never make us happy to hear that a business that is related to ours has failed.” Fair enough.
But in this tough market of new online literature, how do Steve and Judith survive? “To be honest with you, we don’t know yet,” she says. “We haven’t been around long enough to be able to tell. Time will tell. And we do make an effort!”
The couple hosts a bi-monthly art venue showing artists of their choice in the upper story of the shop. Currently, Istvan’s own art is on display, a colorful collection of hand drawn prints, a humorous collection of works, well worth a detour.
Century Books also hosts a weekly book study. For more information on events please contact Century Books directly.
New &Used Bookstore & Art Gallery
1039 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA, 91106
(626) 796 1703