Readers and Booksellers Remember Strand Owner Fred Bass
The bookstore legend passed away this week at the age of 89
Fred Bass, for decades the owner of The Strand—the legendary New York bookstore that boasts 18 miles of used, rare, and new books—passed away on January 3, 2018. Bass, who inherited the store from his father and later co-owned it with his daughter, spent his entire life surrounded by books and considered his job to be like treasure hunting. He was a world-builder of sorts, creating a little literary city within the larger city of New York. Readers, writers, and book enthusiasts are familiar with this kind of love, and many of them took to social media this week to remember a giant of the bookselling trade.
If you have your own memories of Fred Bass, you can share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll add them to the list.
“Fred Bass gave me my first job in books. I probably picked up more useful information during the summer of 1990, when I worked at the Strand between my first and second years at Columbia, than I did in any other three-month stretch of my life. Watching him sort thousands of books every day, barely pausing to accept his deli order, made those books real to me in a new way: as mysterious but knowable artifacts, with secret histories and reputations beyond their texts.
‘This is good. This is bad. This is good.’ ‘Is this good?’ ‘No.’
I didn’t know Fred well, but his death is certainly the end of something for me, just as the Strand was the beginning.” —Heather O’Donnell, owner of Honey & Wax Booksellers, in an email
End of an era! He hired misfits like me in 1980 to answer phones. I was one of just a few women. Anyone else work at #strandbookstore back then? https://t.co/Ds0W3fdTY8
@strandbookstore i found so much discovery & joy in The Strand bookstore. it also regularly destroyed my budget, but i always left w a smile & a big stack of incredible books i'd always wanted (or never knew i wanted) to read! thank you #FredBass for your amazing gift of books.
The Strand Book Store is one of the best things about living in NYC. #RIP #FredBass
Though the news is sad, it gives me hope to see the name of "Fred Bass," my first boss when I moved to New York City in 1978, trending on Twitter this afternoon. #StrandBookstore
I had many business dealings with Fred Bass back when I sold Yellow Pages ads. He was a character and a book man of the first water. I'm sorry he is gone but thank God the store survives. https://t.co/QnAASplETu