Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls changing hands, will join forces with Roundabout Books

  • Nancy and Ken Eisenstein are selling Boswell’s Books at 10 Bridge St. after nearly 10 years of ownership. Boswell, the eponymous cat, will remain with the store. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Nancy and Ken Eisenstein are selling Boswell’s Books at 10 Bridge St. after nearly 10 years of ownership. Boswell, the eponymous cat, will remain with the store. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Raymond Neal, the owner of Roundabout Books in Greenfield, will be taking over ownership of Boswell’s Books at 10 Bridge St. in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Raymond Neal, the owner of Roundabout Books in Greenfield, will be taking over ownership of Boswell’s Books at 10 Bridge St. in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Raymond Neal, at left, is purchasing Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls from Nancy and Ken Eisenstein, who are selling the store after nearly 10 years of ownership. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/16/2021 4:00:48 PM
Modified: 12/16/2021 4:00:14 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — Nearly 10 years after seeing a “For Sale” sign in the window of Boswell’s Books while walking on Bridge Street, Ken and Nancy Eisenstein are selling their longstanding bookstore to another local bookseller.

Boswell’s Books will be sold to Raymond Neal, the owner of Greenfield-based Roundabout Books, effective Dec. 31. The Eisensteins, who bought the store as a retirement project, will be retiring a second time as they look to spend more time with their family. They say they will continue to visit the store and the eponymous cat, Boswell, who will remain at Boswell’s Books.

“We’re in our 70s,” Ken Eisenstein said sitting next to Nancy and Neal. “It gets harder every year to be schlepping boxes.”

The Eisensteins added they were fortunate to find Neal to take over.

“I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t found Raymond,” Ken Eisenstein said. “We’d probably still be owning the store.”

The Eisensteins said they have known Neal since he opened Roundabout Books right around the time they bought Boswell’s. They added he was the perfect candidate to own the store as he knows all the ins and outs of the bookselling industry.

“We didn’t want someone coming in saying, ‘Hey I’ve always wanted to own a bookstore, but I don’t know anything about it,’” Nancy Eisenstein said. “We’ve known Raymond for almost 10 years now. We kind of came into the business around the same time and we kind of grew up together in the book business.”

Neal said he never really had plans to purchase the store, as he has kept busy with Roundabout Books.

“It was only when Ken and Nancy approached me. I did not think that it would be something we would do,” Neal said. “I’m delighted about it.”

Roundabout Books, located at 26 Kenwood St. in Greenfield, is an independent bookstore selling new, used and vintage books. Neal said he plans on using the vast collection of more than 20,000 books to bolster the selection at Boswell’s.

“It’s almost like digging a deep well,” Neal said. “I feel like we have a big well of books available.”

Beyond that, changes at Boswell’s will be minimal. Neal envisions adding streamlined online ordering and in-store pickup options, but staff and day-to-day operations will be the same. Maria Uprichard, the current manager, will continue to help run the store.

“The well of books is the biggest thing I can offer,” Neal said, “but it is the case it will have some sophisticated in-store pickup and shipping options and things like that.”

“He’s going to bring Boswell’s into the 21st century. We have been steadfastly rooted in the 20th-century model,” Nancy Eisenstein said. “For example, during the pandemic, if we had online ordering, we would have done much better. We just didn’t have the capacity for it.”

The Eisensteins first saw Boswell’s Books in 2008 when they were traveling from Newton to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. They were interested in purchasing the bookstore then, but held off until they made a return visit to Shelburne Falls in 2012.

As they head off into their second retirement, the Eisensteins say they’re going to miss running the bookstore, but are looking forward to spending time with their granddaughter and continuing their volunteer work.

“We both have done a lot of volunteer work over the years. That’s going to continue,” Ken Eisenstein said. “I will be haunting this bookstore as I would any bookstore.”

Neal said the pandemic has made business tough, but he thinks he can have a unique pipeline of customers and books between the two stores as business continues to pick up.

“It’s been such a challenging year and a half. Ken and Nancy coming to me was such a bright spot,” Neal said. “I think our staff are excited about it, too. It’s going to be a really cool connection.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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