The timeline is a work in progress.
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Common Language Bookstore
Common Language Bookstore was a feminist and LGBTQ bookstore that operated from 1990-2018. Originally called Common Destinations, it began operations at 214 S. Fourth Ave in 1990. It was soon afterwards purchased by Kate Burkhardt and Lynden Kelly, who renamed it Common Language, and operated it until 2003. It was sold to Martin Contreras and Keith Orr in 2003, and in 2005 they moved it to a converted house at 317 Braun Court, where they operated it until its closure in 2018.
In 1990 Jeffrey Pickell opened his store to house his collected books, comic books, baseball cards, and other collectibles. The store was first located on State Street, then on N. Fourth Avenue. Pickell retired and closed the store in 2017, but it continues to have an online presence.
Dawn Treader Books
Dawn Treader has been selling used books, including rare and antiquarian books, maps, and prints, for over 40 years. Bill Gilmore started Bill’s Bindery on S. Fifth Avenue, before opening Dawn Treader, named for a ship in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. The store was purchased in 2022 by manager Africa Schaumann.
David Kozubei worked for Centicore books and Borders, then began selling books in the basement of Eden Foods on Maynard, before opening his own store, first on State Street, then on Liberty. He commissioned the famous bookstore mural by Richard Wolk that is displayed at State Street at Liberty. The store was sold to Ed Koster in 1983, and closed in Ann Arbor in 2011.
It continues with an online presence and plans to reopen in Ypsilanti.
The Eye of Agamotto
Norm Harris opened The Eye of Agamotto at 340 S. State Street (upstairs) in 1975, taking over the space of Curious Used Book Shop, Too! His exclusive focus on selling comic books led the Ann Arbor News to dub him the “comic book king of Ann Arbor” in 1985. He was the sole owner and proprietor from 1979 until the store’s closure in 1986. The head shop Stairway to Heaven later took over the Eye’s store space.
Photo of owner Norm Harris by Larry E. Wright appeared in the Ann Arbor News, September 17, 1978
A Woman’s Bookstore
A Woman’s Bookstore opened on April 20, 1975, sharing space with the Free People’s Clinic at 225 E. Liberty Street. It was founded by members of the Women’s Community Center and the personnel of the Ann Arbor feminist publication Herself. It sought to provide new and used books on herstory, non-sexist books for children and young adults, poetry and fiction written by women, among other topics. Rebranded as Womanspace, in March of 1977 the bookstore moved to 211½ N. Fourth Avenue (right across the street from Wooden Spoon Books), this time sharing space with the Women’s Crisis Center, the Common Woman Library, and the Women’s Art Gallery.
Logos Bookstore opened in 1968 at 1205 S. University Ave. It was a Christian bookstore sponsored by the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship campus ministry, opened and operated by Jim Carlson and his wife Priscilla. The success at this location led to enfranchisement; there are many locations open around the country. The S. University location closed around 1993.
Wooden Spoon Used Book Store
Wooden Spoon Books proclaimed itself “Ann Arbor’s Oldest Used Bookstore!” It was opened in 1968 by Dee Marshall, at 200 N. Fourth Avenue, the former location of Joe Parker’s College Saloon. Originally intended as a store specializing in used cookbooks (hence the name of the store), it soon broadened its focus to include books on the arts, natural history, and science fiction, among others. It focused on rare and antique books, and sold other dealers’ books on consignment. Ownership eventually changed hands to Richard Wunsch (who also owned Volume One Bookstore in Hillsdale, Michigan). In the mid-1990s, the store also functioned as a community space, hosting meetings of the Labor Party of Washtenaw County, according to listings in Agenda magazine. The store was sold to an 18-member collective in 2003.
“Stepping into Paideia is like stepping into the sunny library of an unabashed scholar.” Paideia Books was located at 313 S. State Street, upstairs, above what was then a Kresge store and is now a Walgreens. It was owned and operated by Thomas Prins, with the assistance of his wife Glenda. The store specialized in academic books and covered a wide variety of subjects, including history, philosophy, literature, and sociology. The date of the store’s opening is unknown as of this writing, but it closed in 1980, the space taken over by Shaman Drum Bookshop.
Quote from article “A walking tour of Ann Arbor’s bookstores,” by Pat Smith, in Ann Arbor Scene Magazine’s Newcomer’s Guide to Ann Arbor (1978)
Ulrich’s has been selling textbooks, school supplies, and University of Michigan merchandise since 1932. The store was opened by Fred Ulrich, then operated by the Ulrich family trust until its sale to the Follett Company in 2015. It maintained its original location at the corner of S. University and E. University for over 80 years, until construction necessitated a move down the street to S. University.
Over the course of nearly a century, George Wahr and his descendants operated bookstores at several locations in Ann Arbor.
Wahr and his partners George Osius and Charles Ludlow bought out John Moore's book selling business in 1883 and began the longest bookstore operation in Ann Arbor.
Sheehan & Co.
Perry's Book Store
Like many booksellers of the time, Perry's sold wallpaper as well as books.
James W. Allen, Esq.
The earliest book sold in Ann Arbor may have been the school books offered by James W. Allen along with a multitude of other dry goods from his cabin at the corner of Main and Huron, a site that included the founder, John Allen's cabin.
Source: Western Emigrant, v.1, no. 28, June 2, 1830