The 84-year-old Penguin Bookshop in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley is about to get its sixth owner, Susan Hans O’Connor, who has a background in book publishing, including associate editor at Viking, and has been working part-time at the bookstore for the past year. Although there is no information on the terms of the sale, it’s likely that when the transaction is completed with current owners Janet and Bud McDanel early next year it will be for more than the 1939 purchase price of the Penguin (named for Penguin Island). It went for one dollar, while the McDanels, who purchased the store in 2007, spent more than $1 million to transform the building to meet LEED specifications.
The bookshop building has already been sold, and the Penguin has to be out by January 31. O’Connor will move the store across the street to a former bead shop, two doors down from a Starbucks. At 1,600 sq. ft., the new space is considerably smaller than the current three-story bookstore. O'Connor says that she plans to "right-size" the bookstore, which had too much overhead, when it reopens under her ownership on Februray 1. "It's an empty shell that needs a lot of work. I see that as an opportunity to put my stamp on it and make it warm and inviting," she told PW.
To facilitate the move and to empty the building, the Penguin has already begun selling off inventory. All books other than bestsellers, author event titles, and special orders are being discounted 25% nonreturnable. In a letter to customers, the McDanels wrote: “We know that with the loyalty of our wonderful customers along with the talent and dedication of our staff, the Penguin’s transition into the new space will be a successful one. . . . We feel certain that [O’Connor] will be a wonderful owner and is eminently qualified to carry the bookshop into the future.”