The Boston area’s iconic bookstore in Newton, Mass., New England Mobile Book Fair, has a new owner just in time for the holidays, management consultant Tom Lyons. “Tom impressed each of us with his commitment and passion for the Book Fair, as well as his respect for my family’s legacy,” said former co-owner Jon Strymish, whose family founded the Book Fair 54 years ago.
The Strymishes and co-owner Steven Gans put the Book Fair on the market last November. “We said that we would take our time and find the right person or persons to take it into the future,” Gans told PW. “It’s a testament to the Book Fair that when all the news about the book industry was negative, people kept coming.” He praised Lyons’s vision for the Book Fair brand and the opportunity that it represents.
Lyons plans to make changes to the store gradually to adapt to changes in the book industry over all. While he may be a relative newcomer to the book business, Lyons is already attuned to the value of shopping local for independents. In a statement he said, “The best way the people of Newton and surrounding cities and towns can support us is by coming in during the holiday season and shopping our store. Local businesses keep their revenue in the local community to everyone’s benefit. We will be fully staffed, fully stocked, and open longer holiday hours.”
As part of the sale, which was brokered by Ridge Hill Partners in Needham, Mass., Lyons purchased the Book Fair name and will continue to operate the store out of its current Needham Street location, which the Strymishes and Gans own. They also held onto online retailer Jessica’s Biscuit (www.ecookbooks.com), which sells cookbooks for a number of food and cooking sites, including TVFoodNetwork.com and Epicurious.com. Jessica’s Biscuit continues to expand and just signed with GiltTaste.com.
In the near term, Jon will stay on at the Book Fair as a buyer and will handle customer service. His brother David and Gans will run Jessica’s Biscuit.