Labyrinth Books (“Book Culture”) Update

Written by

The co-founder of Labyrinth Books (and proprietor of Book Culture!) just issued this statement:

To all members of our community,

Having negotiated our independence and dissolved the partnership that founded Labyrinth Books on 112th St, we have changed our name to Book Culture. The outward indications of this change will appear one by one in an effort to make a gradual transition. I and all the staff here are extremely proud and happy to be 100% local and 100% independent.

Our commitment to being a great academic bookstore is still paramount to our mission. We’re going to try even harder to be the most interesting, complete and valuable bookstore possible, while trying to be more of a neighborhood store as well, carrying more magazines, mass market titles, and travel guides; generally becoming a more attractive and comfortable place to browse and visit.

If you haven’t been by in a while, do come in for a visit. And please feel free to spread the word about our newfound identity and independence.

Your memberships will still be honored and that program will continue to be in effect. All gift cards and credits will also remain valid.

Our staff, phone numbers, address, management and owner remain the same. We do, however, have a new website,
, as well as new email addresses.

With our own website we’ll be able to apply your purchases to membership rewards. Most importantly, the customer service and everything associated with the website will be provided by us, here at this location.

So much has changed in the 22 years I’ve been selling books in this neighborhood, in bookselling, in America, in all of us as we change as people and as a community. One change that’s relevant to us is the disappearance of local and small businesses, particularly bookstores. More than ever, stores like ours and the relationship that we have with each of you deserve support. Independent bookselling is essential for a healthy, developing, progressive community and of course Independent bookstores are essential to literature, writing and scholarship, which make you essential to us.

I am open to any feedback, questions or suggestions and can be reached directly at 212-865-1581 or emailed at [email protected].

-Some historical notes and more on why we have to make this change.

My partner and I began working together in the early 80’s at BookForum which was in the space next to Ollie’s on Broadway. We became junior partners there and eventually left to found our own company in the mid 90’s. That company, Great Jones Books, was founded to buy and sell academic remainders with a vision of opening our own store back in the Columbia Neighborhood.

Jonathan Cole, Columbia’s Provost at that time, shared our interest in having a great bookstore at Columbia and with the written and vocal support of many, including in particular Edward Said who lived around the corner from the shop my partner and I ran, a space was finally offered to us in 1996. The post office was being moved from its space on Amsterdam for the new building and the new location seemed to have enough space upstairs to offer a great bookstore. Ten years later, and we are still here.

The partnership had run its course long ago however. For my part I had tried to find a path to independence for many years. After a time of disagreements we were able finally to agree on one more thing, that it was time to split up. Giving up the name was part of the cost.

My former partners continue to operate a store in New Haven called Labyrinth Books and a catalog and the website that also use that name. This store, Book Culture, is in no way related to any of those businesses any longer.

I and all the staff here at Book Culture are at your service. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your input.

Chris Doeblin.



  1. damn

    how did the new haven store get to keep the labyrinth name? morningside heights got hosed.

  2. whew

    "Your memberships will still be honored and that program will continue to be in effect. All gift cards and credits will also remain valid."

    Thanks Chris. Taht's all I needed to know...

  3. who in the fuck

    thought "labyrinth" was a good name for a bookstore in the first place? and true to it's name, it's never a quick, easy trip to their store. you never find what you need right away, nor do the workers ever know right where to lead you, they overprice their merchandise, and when it's time to sell back they give you pennies on the dollar. spectacular place. and book culture, from this letter, sounds like it will nobly carry on labyrinth's culture of pain.

  4. The fuss?

    Never really understood what the fuss was about with Labyrinth(/Book Culture). It's just another bookstore fleecing Columbia kids. More people need to start using Books on campus.

  5. they

    have awesome books on clearance. they better keep the obscure titles cheap.

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